If all of our limitations are limitations of our maps rather than reality (Previous article), then the case of our lives is one of inside-out limitations, rather than outside-in.  Yet for almost everybody, limitations feel like an outside-in process.  It certainly seems that what is creating limitations in my life are other people, how I was treated by my parents, friends, lovers, bosses, etc., by the circumstances that I’m facing, etc. It seems that way; it feels that way, yet in actuality, that’s not the way it is.

Why is that?  What explains this?  The principle is that our inside-out limitations (which are in our maps) color our perceptions.  Limitations seem to come from the outside, because that’s how we use our map-endowed limitations-we use them to color what we see.

The result of this is that much of what is inside us is projected outside. It is projected onto other people, onto the world, onto experiences, etc. In NLP this shows up as the process of “mind-reading.”  Yet even more than projection is the mechanism of filtering-we see the worlds that we see as colored through our filters.  This describes the power of a belief.  A belief, as an understanding and conviction about something (yourself, others, your work, money, business, discipline, etc.), works as a self-organization attractor within your mind-body system.  That’s why all of the great faith systems warned: Be careful what you believe because as you believe, so be it unto you as you believe.

After last week’s post on this subject, Cat Wilson, who trains NLP in Portland Oregon sent the following quotation from Jennifer James (2003) who said something that relates to this challenge.  She offers a solution: We can learn to recognize the distorting factors.

“Tugged in opposite directions by a familiar present and an uncertain future, we can lose our balance and our ability to keep things in
perspective.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  We can learn to recognize the many factors that may be distorting our perceptions.  We can sharpen our perspective skills.  In short, we can keep our eyes and minds open to the forces of change as they will affect our businesses and our lives.” (Thinking in the Future Tense, Touchstone iBooks)

Is this easy?  No, of course not.  Yet is it important?  Yes, absolutely. And is it possible?  Yes!  And that is one of the values of NLP Training, learning to recognize the distorting factors in our perceptions.  If you’re committed to learning that, I’d recommend that you start with learning and using the Meta-Model of Language.  It was designed to enable you to challenge the quality of your map-making.  And don’t just use the original 11 distinctions (The Structure of Magic, 1975), use all 22 of the distinctions (Communication Magic, 2001).  From there, focus also on the thinking pattern that you use in thinking- your meta-programs and the cognitive distortions.  These govern how you think.

Similarly, Neuro-Semanticist and Meta-Coach, Scott Pochron, who has made developmental psychology his focus (Scott presented a paper at the NLP Research Conference last year) wrote the following about the importance of a community of support for enabling all to engage in better thinking.

There is a real limitation though-a developmental limitation that impacts the way in which maps are constructed.  In this case, the challenge is not just the quality of the map, but the capability of the individual to coordinate maps of sufficient complexity to adequately represent the territory.

A simple example is systems thinking.  It’s estimated that only 20%  of the US population is able to think systemically (i.e., able to coordinate the interdependencies between more than two variables) without some form of support.

There is enough research evidence to confirm that there is a change over time in how individuals construct meaning and there are patterns in the structure of these changes from one stage to the next.  What is exciting, as Neuro-Semanticists and Meta-Coaches, this is the area we attend to-we can work with clients to understand both the structure of the maps and their map-making capabilities, and provide the support to enable transformation, which eventually can evolve the map making capability itself so they can be
self supporting.

I wrote back to Scott noting what a shocking statistic that is- “only 20% of the US population is able to think systemically … without some form of support.”  So what support do people need?  What do we have in Neuro-Semantics that an offer you support?

I’d first recommend using the Meta-States Model.  As a systems model, it will get you use to the system process of self-reflexivity and how to follow your own information-energy loop through your mind-body-emotion system. This non-linear facet of thinking will condition you to think about the variables as information moves through the loops and are transformed into neurological responses.

Once you have a good working handle on how you meta-state yourself (and others) with layers of psycho-logical levels, then focus your attention on learning how to use the Matrix Model.  This will enable you to identify the key variables in the system and a few key principles that govern the dynamic complexity of the system.  Then you will be able to follow the information into a person’s individual system until it emerges as energy “states” that the person operates from in speaking and responding.

This is what we do in Meta-Coaching.  We follow the data that a person is paying attention to and focusing on.  We follow it into his or her map-making system where the person then creates both limitations and resources by interpreting the meaning of the data.  When this framing of meaning creates a limitation-the problem is that limiting frame.  And that’s the leverage point of transformation in that person’s system.  What limitations in emotions, speech, behavior, and relational responses makes sense.  It makes senses to the meaning that the person maps about the data. While it may seem like the limitation is out there in that data, it is not. The limitation comes from the inside to the outside due to the interpretative meanings framed by the person.  Got a limitation?  No worry, the frame is the problem!  Time to reframe!

Dr. Michael Hall Phd.