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What are The NLP Presuppositions?

The most basic and essential parts of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) are the presuppositions.

Think of the NLP presuppositions as the guiding principles or beliefs holding the NLP model up, like how a programming language maintains an entire computer operating system. Without the programming language, you can’t build the operating system and it collapses. But if you use the coding principles, your ability to create is limitless.

NLP doesn’t hold that these beliefs are ‘ultimately’ true, but we pre-suppose that they are. In NLP, whether a belief is ultimately true or not is not as important as whether or not it’s useful.

In the next NLP 101 series of posts, I’ll be introducing the core NLP presuppositions one by one, and we’ll see how they can relate to your life and help make it a more colorful and expensive one.

For the very first one…

The Map Is Not The Territory

Every second of our lives, millions of bits of information are streaming through our five senses into our minds, but only 7 plus or minus 2 bits gets consciously registered. NLP says that we cannot truly know the world as it is, not only because our conscious awareness is limited, but even that tiny bit that gets in we experience through the conscious and unconscious filters that we have, like our beliefs, values, and states.

And because everyone experiences the world differently, we say that the map is not the territory: I have a different experience of reality than you do, and it’s not about being any more right or wrong than yours is. In NLP, we only ask if the current map you have is the most useful one for you right now.

How Can I Use This?

If you pre-suppose that the map is not the territory, then you’ll automatically assume that your beliefs do not always reflect reality accurately. You might have lived your whole life believing something is so, but just because you believed in Santa Claus didn’t make it so.

Could a belief like ‘the world is full of assholes’ limit you? Someone might have had one lousy experience in the past, and formed that belief. As the years went by, they might have forgotten how that belief got formed and taken that habitual belief to be fact: to them, that’s how the world ‘really’ is.

But if the map isn’t the territory, that person could realize that belief isn’t etched in stone, but merely written on her map of the territory. She might realize that other people who don’t believe the world is full of assholes aren’t deluded, they just have a different map of the world.

And if she changes that writing on her map to something more useful, like perhaps: ‘the world is a nicer place because I’m here’, she’ll work with the territory a lot differently and get different results because the map is guiding her differently now.

The Map Is The Territory

Contrast that with the opposite belief: that the map is the territory. Think of it: an entire world full of people who walked around believing that their view of reality is the only right one and everyone else who doesn’t share their map of the world is just plain wrong.

Doesn’t it sound like a potential recipe for arguments, fights, and wars?

If The Map Is Not The Territory, What Would Be Different For You?

If you don’t already hold this belief, pause your disbelief for a moment, and just allow yourself to imagine it’s true that the map is not the territory (even that is not the territory, I know, but let’s test). How would your life be different if you held that belief to be true, emotionally, mentally, socially, physically and spiritually?

NLP 101 Series:

NLP 101: What is NLP? Part 1
NLP 101: What is NLP Special for The Super NLP Hardcore
NLP 101: What is NLP? Part 2
NLP 101: So Dark The Con Of NLP
NLP 101: How NLP Changed My Life
NLP 101: The Map Is Not The Territory
NLP 101: There Is No Failure Only Learning Experience
NLP 101: Every Behaviour Has A Positive Intention
NLP 101: The Meaning of Your Communication is The Response You Get
NLP 101: You Cannot Not Communicate
NLP 101 Thoughts: You Cannot Not Change The World
NLP 101: People Are Always Making The Best Choices They Have
NLP 101: People Are Not Broken
NLP 101: You Cannot Not Communicate: The Pygmalion Effect
NLP 101: Everyone Already Has All The Resources They Need
NLP 101: There Are No Resistant Listeners, Only Inflexible Speakers
NLP 101: Life Is A Series of Systems