If I told you that one of the key presuppositions in Neuro-Linguistic Programming was:

People are always making the best choices they have

you might think I was off my rocker.

“Alvin,” you might say, “what about people who abuse their bodies with drugs and alcohol, take it out on their kids, and listen to euro-trance? You can’t say those are the best choices anyone can make!”

Which is all perfectly true, and which is also why I’ve waited til now to introduce this NLP presupposition. None of the NLP presuppositions work in a vaccum, and this one, as well as Every Behaviour Has A Positive Intention, needs for you to bend your mind around it a little.

The Map is Not the Territory

Remember this one?

Everyone has a different internal map of what reality is, which has distorted, deleted and generalized information. Just like a map of New York could never be New York, our maps of the territory are never the real territory.

For you, drinking to relax might not be the best choice, but for someone else who has a limited map, it might be the best one for them.

It’s About What’s On The Map

In NLP, if someone makes a less than useful choice, we don’t say that person is broken. Taking the presupposition that people are always making the best choices they have, we realize that people make what we think are lousy choices not because they want to, but because they lack choices.

This is a very useful belief to operate from, as a person and also as someone who works with people, because it doesn’t bother with labels like ‘lazy’, ‘stuck in the past’, ‘depressive’, but forces you to deal with the fact that you’re stuck and limited because you’ve built a stuck and limited map of the territory, and that you have to find new and more empowering choices.

Your Map of the Map of the Territory Isn’t Even the Territory!

There are many things you know you should do that you think is the best choice for you, but you don’t do it. Why? Because your map of the map of the territory isn’t even the territory!

You may think you make lousy choices consciously, but unconsciously those are the best choices you have. Somehow inside your head, those choices you think you shouldn’t make are perceived to be less painful or more pleasurable than the alternatives, and that’s why you make them.

How Do You Use This?

If you haven’t been able to get your ass off that coach to do some running, it doesn’t mean that you’re ‘a lazy person’. It means that it’s been wired inside you, not just mentally, but also emotionally that sitting on that coach is better than going out to run. Maybe running isn’t the best choice for you then, look up tennis, skiing, roller blading, hiking, mountain climbing, kayaking, gymnastics, martial arts!

Something more empowering, more fun, more enticing, more whatever that will make that choice better than vegging out on that couch! After all, there are people all around the world for whom going out in that hot sun, pounding the pavement, sweating like crazy and pushing themselves to the limit is a lot better choice than sitting on that comfy couch eating that yummilicious chocolate cake. If they can do it, why not you?

If People are Always Making The Best Choices They Have, what would be different for you?

Like I said earlier, none of the NLP presuppositions work in a vaccum, adopting a few will already increase your personal power, but weaving them all together creates a far more empowering perspective. Sounding out this presupposition together with the rest helps make it all make more sense.

If you haven’t read 5 Beliefs of Highly Ineffective Speakers, I tell a parable there that shows just how that happens (and what happens when it doesn’t!).

If people are always making the best choices they have, and they still make lousy choices that they think are the best, it only means that they have a map of the territory with lousy choices that needs to be expanded.

If people are always making the best choice they have, what would be different for you?

P.S. Has your mind been bent yet? 😉

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