pretending there is a reality

mime reality map territory NLP
I’m not a fan of wasps. A wasp buzzing near me will cause me to flap like a crazed Indiana Jones extra, chopping my way through an invisible mist of cobwebs in a deep, dark cavern. If that doesn’t work, I will duck, sway, even run away.

I don’t specifically recall being stung as a child and I have no evidence that wasps are seeking me out, just to sting me. Sometimes this frantic dance happens before I even know it’s a wasp. Just a buzzing insect can invoke this manic mime artist routine.

In a sense I am creating a false wasp / imagined wasp implication ‘reality’.

We all do this – not with wasps I suspect – but, act as if a ‘reality’ is true. Have you ever seen something shiny on the ground and paused to check, believing it to be of value? Have you ever mislaid something and convinced yourself someone else has moved it, because you ‘know’ you haven’t?

These are somewhat frivolous, innocuous examples. Something to giggle about. But we do the same thing in all our day to day experiences and interactions. Given as human beings we experience things constantly, this is something to pay attention to. Neither frivolous nor innocuous.

Often experiences are shared. We will be in the same situation as a friend, partner, colleague or stranger. It would be easy to assume therefore that we all have the same experience of the same situation. There must be facts? Truths? Reality? Things said, things meant? Actions and words we can all agree on? They happened, right?

Think again.

Let’s say someone you know walks past you at work without saying hello – what’s your reaction, your interpretation? You might think they are ignoring you, that you have upset them? You might think they have more important things to attend to, because after all you’re not important enough? You might think you’ve got it wrong, they don’t like you after all, even though you thought you had a relationship? You might just think you don’t have an interesting contribution to make, nothing to say that your colleague wants to hear?

Of course you can’t know their truth, so you create yours, by deleting, distorting and generalising your experience. Noticing some things, ignoring others; interpreting and distorting the experience to make it ‘fit’ with your map of the world. Then relating this experience to others and unconsciously grouping it with other ‘similar’ ones to create generalised groupings of meaning – eg people never notice me.

This creation of our own reality is the product of our brains pattern matching and making meaning quickly But we are miming.

Miming reality.

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