That’s probably one of the most common “truisms” of NLP. (they call this a presupposition of NLP).
Now, this wasn’t invented by anybody in NLP, and for that matter, NLP wasn’t “invented” either. It’s just a collection of extremely useful communication strategies that have been used effectively by some of the most natural persuaders of all time.
But what does it mean, exactly? And more importantly, what are the implications?
In less general terms, you can rephrase it as “your representation of reality is not reality.”
In truth, our five senses are very limited to what we can detect. Outside there’s this huge, complex “meta-system” comprised of smaller, interacting and interdependent systems always changing.
We stick our toe in the water, and get a feel for “what’s out there.” Then we create some kind of “mental picture” of what we just measured with our limited senses.
Later on, when we recall that image, it’s naturally distorted and generalized.
That’s why any cop will tell you that eyewitness testimony is the weakest part of any criminal case.
In fact, they did a study to show this. A professor was lecturing, and some “criminal” ran in and stole his laptop, right from his desk, right in front of everybody.
Later, they interviewed everybody in the class, and the descriptions of the thief were all over the place.
Any “measurement” we take of “reality” is necessarily going to be extremely limited. And every time we recall that “measurement” it’s going to be further and further from reality.
So what does this mean? How does knowing that any representation we have of reality, even a simple scene, is going to be extremely lacking in accuracy?
One is focus. Those college kids didn’t really remember the criminal because they weren’t expecting him. If you’re going into a situation where you’re going to need to have a good idea of what happened, clear you mind set a strong intention to remember as much as possible.
Just keep telling yourself, “I’m collecting accurate and detailed information.”
The other is to realize that no matter how “sure” you are of something, it’s really impossible to be 100% certain of anything.
Realize that any ideas you have are going to be “best guesses.” That way, when things go wrong, or something doesn’t turn out the way you thought, it won’t be the end of things.
You just need to step back, reassess things, and try again.
One big cause of emotional pain, suffering, and disappointment is holding on to a “map” of reality that just isn’t accurate.
Understand this, and you’ll be way ahead.