For this second blog about how the Outer World is a reflection of our Inner World I would like to focus on the aspect of belief.
As you will remember from my earlier blog about the self-fulfilling prophecy, our belief systems are established in our earliest years. Once established we collect evidence to support our belief systems.
In NLP we talk about developing an internal map of existence from which we create our model of the world. This process begins in early childhood when we are taking in new data at an incredible rate and to begin with we are just filling in our map. If we get new information that does not fit our map we simply change the map. In developmental psychology, as discussed by people like Piaget, we call this accommodation.
There comes a point where at some level we make the unconscious decision that our map is complete, perhaps around the age of seven. At this point if we get new information that does not fit our map, instead of changing the map we change the information. This is known as assimilation from a developmental point of view.
Out of this we all develop our own personal set of filters in order to manage how we perceive our world and how we interpret it. For example, before I became involved in personal development and while my self-esteem was low I experienced most people as stupid, aggressive, unhelpful and unfriendly. I didn’t think many people liked me and life was a struggle.
This all changed when I realised that I do have worth and value as a human being and so do others. Now I experience the majority of people as friendly, kind, supportive and fun. Life is now a joy for me and even when I experience a set back I know that I can handle it!
Has the world actually changed? Well it feels as if it has and yet I’m the one who has experienced a shift. For instance, I have a better relationship with my parents now and they seem different . Neither of them has ever read a book on personal development let alone attend a workshop!
In NLP we have a phrase “the map is not the territory” (Korzybski) meaning that our mental map is only our perception of reality, not what is actually there. If you look at a street map you see representations of what a town looks like not how it looks from above. We understand a street map is just a representation and if we apply the same concept to our internal maps we open a new door.
If we apply this to how we experience the world consider the following metaphor and how this might work for you. Imagine that our perception of life is like looking through a car wind screen, if you look out one side you see all that is negative in the world but if you look out the right side you see all that is amazing and wonderful. This is a metaphor developed by my husband and business partner, Joe Cheal. He points out that if we focus on just one half of the wind screen we will assume that it is a true representation of the world. So if we look out of the right side and we see kindness, love, sunshine and beauty we will assume this is reality. If you focus on the other side life will not seem quite so uplifting.
As a species, it might appear we have a natural affinity for a more negative view point. Maybe it is cultural and some races have a more positive aspect. Perhaps there is even an evolutionary reason why paying attention to fear and anger are more successful strategies. After all if we get eaten by a lion it doesn’t matter how pretty the flowers are!
Yet, in the modern world most of us do not need to be concerned about basic survival, we are safe, we have enough to eat and shelter. This allows us more time to contemplate self-actualisation and finding a more fulfilling way to live.
Consider how two people can walk down the same street. One sees the litter, broken windows and the peeling paint. The other person sees the amazing architecture, the flower growing up between the paving slabs and the potential for growth. Where we place our focus creates the world we get to live in, “reality is projection”.
If our beliefs are responsible for what we focus on and how we experience life, perhaps we need to get better at identifying our limiting beliefs. If we exchange limiting beliefs for empowering ones, perhaps that is how we get to experience a different outer world. Perhaps we really do just get what we expect or is it that we just see, hear and experience what we expect?
There are many ways to do this and in my earlier blog I talked about the NLP technique “Change Belief” as an example, however the first step is recognising that it is possible to live in a brighter world right now!
If you would like to know more about how to do that, join us on an NLP training course starting with Practitioner, Master Practitioner and then leading to Trainers Training. Follow the links below to find out more.
Next week we will explore the behavioural aspect of the Outer World as a reflection of the Inner World.