When I was studying Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), one of the biggest realizations was that the map I had of the world wasn’t actually true. My map is a mere reflection of me, just like yours is of you. Neither of them tell much about the world itself.
Just by this simple realization, my map expanded. Hugely. And I got curious about what else is there that I haven’t yet actually seen.
It helped a lot to understand how we come to draw our mental maps of the world. Which happens much like drawing a real map of a city, for example. We simply leave stuff out, generalize and change the proportions.
Why? Because there’s just too much information to contain. Our brain can’t handle it all. Or rather, our conscious mind can’t handle it all. So, it labels and categorizes everything and tends to allow in only what is, at least somewhat, in line with our current view of life.
Every once in a while, it’s good to take a good look at your current map of the world, of the life you’re living. Because if we don’t, we tend to mess up hugely in two ways.
- We keep on doing what clearly doesn’t work, and even though the results aren’t in line with what we’ve desired, we keep repeating the same things, only expecting different results.
- We imagine restrictions and limitations where there actually are none.
For example, due to the way our brain works, we tend to generalize a lot of the experiences we’ve had in the past and project them into the future as truths. If something hasn’t worked once, it won’t ever be possible. Or, if something has, it will always do so. Until it won’t. And then the story changes.
But does it ever change into the other direction? From not working to working? Do you tend to predict the future in your favor?
The truth is that we do not know what will happen in the future. It is still unwritten. Thus, predicting in any direction is just a prediction. Not the truth.
And we do not ever find out the truth unless we give it a go.
If you keep doing the same things, yet expecting different results, and then being disappointed when that doesn’t happen, or you’re only thinking about and talking about what you’d like to do, but not taking action, it’s clearly time for a reality check.
One way of doing it, is to stop to think before jumping into action. Answer these questions first.
- What is it that I’m not seeing yet of the situation?
- What is there that I have not yet seen about myself that I need to see?
- What perspective / information would help me in this situation?
- Who has the answer to help me in my situation? Who already knows what I need to know?
- How can this be possible? What would need to happen for this to be possible?
Then, when you’re ready to go for the action, notice, that it needs to be
- different from what you’ve done so far
- slow: chunk it into doable bits and pieces
It’s never about quick wins. It’s about being the person you want to be. So, accept the lack of immediate results, as you begin.
A reality check helps you to expand your map, to let new perspectives in. New information in. And opening yourself up for new perspectives will give you more flexibility in your actions.
The more perspectives you’re able to see, the more flexible your map becomes. And the more flexible your map becomes, the more freedom you have. In everything you do.