People are storytellers. We have the brilliant ability to receive information about our world and then recreate this information into ideas. We share these ideas through our stories. Our stories are very real to us, and very meaningful. Stories are how we relate to each other, how we form relationships, and how we find significance in our lives. Stories are a noteworthy aspect of how we communicate, and naturally our language plays an important role in everything we do.
Every second, we are processing 2 million bits of information. Our unconscious minds have the remarkable task of sorting through this information and piecing it together into sizable chunks that the conscious mind can find usable. Throughout the process, some information is deleted and completely removed from our awareness. Other information is distorted, or changed in some way so that it fits our model of the world. We also unconsciously form generalizations and create patterns of thought and ideas. In NLP, this process is noted as Deletions, Distortions, and Generalizations.
We each have our own unique model of the world. This model is also called a map and has been carefully constructed and formed over the course of our lives. The map is a framework of sensory information, programs, patterns, values, criteria, and beliefs. Through our filtering system (deleting, distorting, and generalizing), we create perceptions of what we believe the world to be. This becomes our map, and we place this map onto life events as a way to make meaning of the experience.
Our maps can be a great resource, or they can create challenges. Since our unconscious mind always desires to bring us pleasure, it will use whatever resource it can access. This is its positive intent and purpose. The challenge occurs when we continue to re-use outdated, irrelevant maps on new territories. These are maps that have been formed by belief systems that no longer serve us and perceptions that are no longer accurate.
Life is the territory, our perceptions are the map. Life is dynamic. Life is constant movement, and is always changing. If our maps are rigid, static, unbending, it will be far more difficult for us to ride easefully with the ebbs and flows that greet us each day, each month, each year.
NLP is extraordinary as a technology because its foundational principles recognize that the map is not territory. Our perceptions of the event are not the event itself. Rather, our perceptions are only the world as we see it, feel it, and sense it. When we accept this, we open ourselves to expansion on greater and greater levels. We learn to approach situations with refined awareness. We learn to access new resources that help us create positive communication with ourselves and with others. Each person has a different map, and when we meet the people in our lives from their point of view, we increase rapport and gain the ability to generate successful changes.