Sunday, March 11, 2007

NLP: NLP is about Thinking Part 7 - Filters


This is Part 7 of our series of NLP is about Thinking.

I am speeding up myself in writing so as to at least finish the first major section of this articles series before the start of the NLP Practitioner Program this year.

We are continuing to discuss the 5 Factors that make "Our Maps are not the Territory". Filters is the 3rd factor. Filter is the single most core concepts of NLP. You can say that all other 4 factors are Filters-related.

The Physical Barriers, Missing Perspectives, Time and Language Factors create the discrepancies between our Map (Internal Reality) and the Territory (External Reality) and at the same time they add and/or alter the related Filters, which continue to generate the discrepancies in a long run, with or without those original factors existing.

For example, you saw one of your friends not caring your feelings as he was shouting loudly to you when you had make a mistake. However this might not be the reality as it is his habit to talk loudly when he is worrying. This is a typical Physical Barriers example. However, this individual incident might not affect your perception just once. It might also create a Belief (one of the Filters) of "He is not a caring person". This belief affects how you perceive and interact with your friend in the future.

We formed most of our Filters during our grown-up. During our earlier years of our lives, we do not have many filters. So, it is too easy for us to take in so many filters from people and situations around us, your parents, brothers and sisters, relatives, teachers, classmates, church, your school life, TV programs, etc. As we grow up, it becomes more difficult to add and alter filters as our existing filters "filter" off most of them.

There are basically 3 types of Filters: Value, Belief & Rule.

1. Values are what you think that are important. They are the qualities that are intrinsically desirable to us. When our values being met, we feel satisfied and harmonious. Our values influence the goals and choices that we make. Our values direct our Perceptions and thus our actions. If someone values "stability", he/she will constantly evaluate a situation whether it causes stability or instability.

2. Beliefs are what you think that are real. This guides our Meaning-Making System. It gives meaning to what is perceived. One can find something interesting, but another one can perceive it as annoying. Thus it affects our Reactions and Expectations.

3. Rules are what you think that are right or wrong. Rules connect some of our values to our actions. If we think something is important, we will non-consciously set some rules to make the value being valued by us and by others. Our rules make our actions and behaviours consistent, but they might also limit us to change or choosing other options of action.

All our Filters (Beliefs, Values & Rules) are just what we think. It can be real or far from reality.

Our filters can be conscious or non-conscious to us. Most of our filters are non-conscious. We do not know their existence but they affect us. So discovering your filters are one of the most important kinds of Self-Awareness.

Our Filters create discrepancies between our maps and the reality through 3 fundamental mechanisms, Deletion, Distortion and Generalization.

1. Deletion is the process of we selectively focus on part(s) of the experience and excluding others. The world is too complicated. Deletion reduces the world to make us capable of handling.

We might delete part of the outside information Content, e.g. we focus only on someone's out of style dressing, while ignoring what he is talking. We might also delete part of the Context, e.g. we focus only on someone's tone of speech. Furthermore, we can even delete most of the Outside World, e.g. you sink into your inside world to think of something important while forgetting everything outside.

We usually delete something we think which is not important to us (i.e. Non-Values), or which is not real (i.e. Non-Belief), or which is right or wrong (i.e. Rule & Non-Rule).

2. Distortion is the process of shifting our experience of outside world's information. It alters the information so as to match our original Preconceptions and/or Perceptions. For example, when one of your staff is late to work, you immediately think that he is lazy without asking for when happened to him.

We use Filters to distort the Outside World to fit our Filters. Great arts and breakthrough in science can be resulted from a distortion from the present reality of the world.

3. Generalization is the process of detaching one element of the experience and taking that element representing the whole category of which the experience is an example. Through generalization, we draw global conclusions based on one, two or more experiences.

Generalization can be Useful or Limiting. We can generalize that rejecting an opinion from our superior is not polite. This makes you having good relationship with your superiors, but it can also limit your performance if the opinion is not appropriate.

Generalization is also Context-Related. The above generalization can be very suitable in Chinese culture, but might not be useful in other countries.

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