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Maps, territories & the NLP metamodel


Table of Contents

The metamodel of NLP….

At all times we are being bombarded with a tremendous amount of information from our environment that we must filter through.    Imagine how overwhelmed and overloaded you would be if all of your senses:  the sights, sounds, tastes and smells in your environment in addition to all of your bodily sensations, were all being fired off at their full intensity at the same time! Something as simple as reading an article would be a daunting task if you were unable to selectively attend to the specific information you perceive as important while filtering out the rest!  As human beings we must delete, distort and make generalizations about the information coming in through our senses in order to make ‘sense’ of the world.

The map is not the territory

The information that is left over after these deletions, distortions and generalizations make up an individual’s ‘map of the world.’  This personalized way of looking at the world makes each individual unique and allows us to function in our own unique way as we move through life.

When people are happy, living rich and resourceful lives, their ‘map of the world’ is serving them well.   When people view the world and their relationship to it in unresourceful ways, they have formed a map of the world that is not serving them to live a rich and resourceful life.

NLP Metamodel

As stated in The Structure of Magic, “The basic principle is that people end up in pain NOT because the world is not rich enough to allow them to satisfy their needs, but because their representation of the world is impoverished.”

The metamodel is an amazing resource for bringing someone out of their unresourceful map into the see-hear-feel reality that their map is referring to.   From there, they are in the perfect place to change the meanings that they have associated with those representations.  This opens a space for the changes that need to be made that will bring them back into a more resourceful map.

Maps, territories & the NLP metamodel

Not only do the metamodel questions deconstruct unresourceful maps and limiting beliefs, they are also a targeted tool to bring people more specificity about what they are speaking about.  For example, when somebody says “Nobody cares about me” they may truly believe that what they are saying at that time is true.  Metamodel questions will expand their map of the world, bringing them clarity on who specifically they are referring to by ‘nobody’, show them that they couldn’t possibly know what everybody else in the world feels, and perhaps even give them the realization that somebody out there does care about them!

As a coach, manager, friend etc., the meta-model questions can also be used to bring YOU clarity about what specifically someone else is referring to.  For example when someone says, “He hurt me”, your map of the world may lead you to believe the person was physically hurt. The other person may have been expressing how they were hurt because their spouse didn’t compliment them on their new haircut.   Big difference! By using meta-model questioning you can get a much better understanding of other people’s maps while avoiding overlaying the assumptions of your map on top of theirs.

NLP metamodel to gain clarity

The metamodel can be used to gain clarity and specificity for yourself and others, to make outcomes more specific and attainable, to destabilize limiting maps, beliefs, and states, to enrich resourceful states and more. I wonder how specifically this article has enriched your map of the world, and what specific changes will occur in you having now read it!

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