The NLP Model of Communication explains how we experience reality through our five senses. We process that sensory information, running it through a number of filters. This includes deleting, distorting, and generalising. We feed it through experiences of time, energy, and matter, through memories and decisions, through preferences and attitudes. Finally, we store an internal representation of that experience. It becomes our unique understanding of reality, with all of the nuances and variations that we each bring. It is, therefore, something of a shock when you finally understand that your entire experience of life is all happening in your head.
And it’s a shock because, until we learn otherwise, we assume that we are all having the same experience. We occasionally get caught out when someone shares something that we’d forgotten, or we disagree over the details of past events. Sometimes, it can feel like we’re speaking different languages, with confusion abound. Then, one day, something happens and you realise that you have a very different understanding of events, and that difference of understanding is completely genuine.
For me, it felt like a revelation. It explained so much, so many confusions and misunderstandings. It shed light on relationships, professional and personal, which had proved challenging. Suddenly, I was aware that what I recalled was my version of events. Only mine. And it went beyond my interaction with others. I became aware of how my thought processes, my ideas, my recollection of my actions and intentions, was all a representation in my head.
Additionally, those recollections and representations varied. My mood changes and nuances them. Other events and my energy levels affect them. I reached a point where I began to question the validity of everything that I thought I knew and remembered. And then I paused.
Of course, most of what goes on in our heads is a fairly accurate representation of what is happening around us. We have enough shared knowledge and experience which allows the world to function around us. The times when it does feel like we’re on different planets speaking different languages are not routine occurrences. We not only know the rules to the game, we all generally play by those rules.
Knowing that we potentially have different internal representations of what we believe to be the same experience does give us an advantage. Similarly, knowing that what’s going on inside your head may not, in fact, be what actually happened provides new insight.
I’m generally happy to accept that my internal representations are mine and mine alone. I understand that those representations vary depending on a range of factors. Importantly, though, when I’m aware of conflict, either with others or with myself, I’ve learned to pause. If the issue is with others, I now check to see if our internal representations are in alignment. Are we on the same page? If the issue is with myself, I check my internal representation. What have I missed or what I am confusing?
I don’t always get the answers. It does, though, make a difference. I’m more able to resolve conflict. I understand that we may be working from different perceptions. Indeed, we may well be working from very different representations of reality. Part of the process now is checking to see if we are on the same page, or sometimes on the same planet.
So, how often does your version of reality trip you up? How do you feel about taking a step back in those moments of conflict, no matter how big or small those conflicts are? If you know what to do, do it now. If you’re not sure, book an initial consultation here, and then work out the next step. You know that it makes sense and you know that you can do it, don’t you?