Earlier this week, I wrote here about wasps and my propensity to engage them in an imaginary karate-like self defence of mime. Our creation of our reality through the process of deletion, distortion and generalisation.
In my example I am deleting, distorting and generalising the experience as well as the possible outcomes. My language can reveal which process I am using. For example I might say “I’m scared of wasps”, but what specifically am I scared about? What is deleted in that sentence? The buzz? The pain of the sting? The swelling and itching?… I’m behaving as if all buzzing equals a wasp threat; but that is a generalisation, revealed by the ‘all’. Equally I’m generalising that all wasps are out to get me; generalising a wasp’s presence will always lead to a sting. I’m distorting the risk; creating a perceived significant risk of a sting, despite lack of evidence as I haven’t been stung for decades.
Yet it’s my version of reality in that moment, so I thrash, I dance in an embarrassing battle with my aggressor, miming attack, defence, bravery, fear, victory, defeat.
Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) refers to this human truth through its presupposition ‘the map is not the territory’. Essentially what we believe to be true, our interpretations of events past, present and future. These are only OUR truth. Not THE truth. Everyone creates their own truth, their own map. We do this in these three interconnected ways, and in one sense this process of individualised deletion, generalisation and distortion creates our own unique interpretation, our version of truth. Just as with the colleague passing us without saying hello. All of which might suggest there isn’t one version, one truth, one territory; no reality in fact, just our reality.
Our deepest memories are coloured by this process. Twisted. Enhanced and also reduced. Yet those memories shape our behaviours, our way of being, our beliefs about what matters, what is true, today and going forward. We recall experiences and hold great store by them, but the very memory is only a partial truth, an incomplete reality.
A strange way to base current and future behaviour, don’t you think? Human, but not always helpful perhaps?