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The Map Is Not The Territory

“If personal mind is simply a tool the question is do you understand the tool or do you let the tool fool you” Jacquie Forde 

Last week I began my sold out Wild and Wise Inner Circle with a group of beautiful women intent on deepening their own understanding of the principles, business, love and the spiritual essence of life.

As always when groups gather together introductions happen and opinions are formed as we filter for the familiar and unconsciously edit each experience to form a memory or map.

The human left brain is constantly analysing experience and coming up with stories about the reality in front of us regardless of whether that reality is true or not, it is simply creating a map.

Our left brain uses language and categorisation to help make sense of our experience which is two of the mechanisms by which we create our sense of self.

Can you hear that little voice inside of you reading this article, the voice that whispers or screams within you? That voice is simply your internal dialogue, the left brain narrator interpreting life as it unfolds for you. It chats away almost continually for everyone on the planet and plays a pivotal role in the illusion we call the self.

The left brain is a map maker. I’m assuming that you brush your teeth every morning with a toothbrush. This activity gets coded and a map of your experience is created via the left brain so that you remember that this is the way you brush your teeth. Most people know what a toothbrush looks like and what saying the word toothbrush sounds and feels like and somewhere along the line it was agreed that that is what the thing you brush your teeth with is called.

Voila … you have your toothbrushing map.

Now, if I was to be naughty and bring you a toilet brush to brush your teeth you would have a distinctly different map relating to the toilet brush wouldn’t you? And, if we didn’t have that map or the experience of a toothbrush we could see that the toilet brush was still a brush like object and perhaps could be used to clean our teeth or not.

In Iain Gilchrist’s book,The Master and His Emissary:The Divided Brain and The Making of The Western World, he discusses the main role of the left brain as a map maker to reality and our dependence on language to help us make sense of it all. However, our personal mind can often mistake maps for reality and we end up believing stories that are simply not true. Our left brain takes language literally and makes mistakes.

As an NLP Trainer I always loved seeing the confusion on my students faces when I was teaching them the following NLP presupposition, ” The Map is Not The Territory”.

This basically means that there is a difference between the world itself and how we experience it. The way we make a model of the world is merely a reference to reality. It is not reality itself. A map can be outdated and represent something that has changed or no longer exists. And on a deeper level perceptions can be considered to be maps too. Your brain takes what you perceive through your senses and creates maps of reality written in neural patterns. And that kind of map is just as problematic as any other. So as we create our inner representations of the external world, we do so using incomplete and distorted information. As a result, we often end up with beliefs that don’t match up with reality.

All of the maps, thoughts, beliefs, values, perceptions etc are constructed from the gorgeous gifts of mind, thought and consciousness and we see the world through a filter of thought which can be outdated and untrue.

One of the best examples I can give you is when someone asks me for a character or workplace recommendation for someone I worked with years ago. I always laugh first then explain why I am laughing. I absolutely believe we never meet the same person twice. I know that I am different every day. I have insights and experiences which change me so how can I honestly and authentically give an opinion on someone I haven’t seen for over 10 years?

I can’t.

I have no idea who they have become and to state an opinion about them would be simply be an old stale idea or thought about who I knew years ago not who they are now.

Consider how many times you have met someone you haven’t seen in a while. Do  you expect them to be the same person, to behave in the same way? If so, ask yourself if you are seeing them through the filter of your own cognitive biases or fresh thought in the moment.

Let yourself be surprised. Life is simply fascinating.

Dinna Fash.

Jacquie Forde

Jacquie Forde is an NLP trained, Three Principles Teacher and Transformative Coach, dedicated to helping men and women reach their greatest potential, both personally and professionally.Over the last 27 years, people from over 20 countries have invested in her transformative online and in-person coaching programmes. Jacquie now works primarily from the Three Principles, a new understanding with the power to change the world. She is the founder of The Unashamedly Podcast and School which is launching later this year and is finalising her first book, ‘ Unashamedly Human”.


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