The Map is not the territory

Despite all appearances we never experience the world directly. We only ever experience the world through the filter of our beliefs about the world. To say another way; there is a difference between our beliefs about the world (our Map) and what the world actually is.

Therefore, it is not the world that generates our experience but our ‘Maps’. This is the essence of NLP. That is :Neuro-Linguistic-Programming. NLP describes the way that the map we use is encoded by our Nervous system as thoughts feelings, sensations, beliefs (linguistic representations). NLP is a set of tools to use to re-structure this ‘MAP’ and consequently transform both our experience and the results that we produce in the world.

This is good news because it means that once we change the Map we will alter our experience. It is not that people are broken but that the maps they use do not adequately describe the territory they seek to. It’s not that the universe does not have enough choice in it but, that you are limited by the ‘Maps’ you hold. So, if you have a problem on many occasions helpful shifts can take place when you alter the ‘Map’ that you have.

You can change, thoughts, beliefs, behaviours, sensations, memories, the building blocks of your ‘Map’ and make meaningful changes in your life.

What change do you want to make in your life?  What would you have to : think, believe, do, and feel in order to take a first step to making the change?


I want you to experience a little thought experiment in order that you can appreciate the impact of the beliefs that you hold.

Imagine that 2 twins decide that they need to learn some new skill in order to improve the quality of their life. These two people are very, very similar to each other. Many of their friends struggle to tell the difference between them. However, there is one notable difference. They think very differently about the same experiences. One of them does not believe they have to get everything right first time. They don’t mind making mistakes. They believe that with consistent effort, practice and patience they learn most things to a good enough standard. The other believes that they have to get things right first time. Hates making mistakes and believes that being good at things is just something that happens for other people.

Now take a moment and try on (as you might try on a pair of clothes) each of these two different sets of beliefs.

These two identical twins have to move to a country that speaks a different language. How might their experience of learning a new language differ? If you believed as they did how might your experience of learning a new language be?

I hope you have got some sense of the profound impact that our beliefs have on how we interact with our environment. How we learn new skills and what we believe is possible for us in life.

What Map do you need to take you where you need to go? Do you know someone else who has climbed this particular mountain? Could you ask them what Map they used and climb the same (metaphorical) mountain. What would be some useful questions to ask them? How might you use what you learn to support yourself in achieving what you want in life?