It seems that people, in general, are confused.
This is no surprise with so much information available today. It is getting harder and harder to discriminate between what is news and what is gossip, what are facts, and what is just clickbait, what is true and what is the truth.
The current COVID -19 situation highlights people’s inability to make clear distinctions, to make distinctions between hearsay and science, quality science and bias science, pseudoscience, and pop-science.
Even if a reliable source of scientific news and data is located, how can you be sure that the scientists undertaking the research followed the scientific method which is designed to remove personal bias? Or that the data has not been cherry-picked to reflect or promote a particular agenda?
The same difficulties occur when looking at something that is less complex, such as how we live our lives on a daily basis.
The Map and the Territory
There is an approach, a system called NLP (Neural Linguistic Programming) that may help bring clarity. NLP has a list of fundamentals or agreed truths that are useful to keep in mind when approaching life. One of these core tenants is that ‘The map is not the territory.’
What does this mean exactly?
Well, simply put, what we think is reality, is only a representation of reality- how?
Think of a map, whether a physical map or maybe google maps, that you may use every day while driving.
What is represented on that map?
The roads -major and small, junctions and intersections
Names of towns, cities and villages
Names of rivers and mountains
Distance between one point and another
Places where there may be congestion
It provides an overall perspective of the lay of the land, a helicopter view of the area that the map is concerned with- is a shortcut so that the user finds it easy to use and reduces complexity.
Now, consider the territory-imagine standing on a particular part of the territory -how does this compare to the map as you look around?- pretty quickly, it will become apparent that the map is a pretty poor representation of the actual place.
The map is missing much detail, missing not only physical differences such as the width of pavements, location of signposts, number, and type of shops, type of businesses, how many people are on the footpaths, names of the shops, the colour of the shop fronts. But also the feeling of actually experiencing the location, the noise of the place, the smells etc.….you get the idea!
It is impossible for any map, no matter how well-drawn or digitally accurate, could be a real-life reflection of the reality of the experience of the actual location that it depicts.
And so it is with our own beliefs and perceptions, we fall into the habit of believing that our map of the world is accurate and that it is THE map of the world.
We are missing the point that our map is a short cut that helps us navigate what is a complex reality.
People will often go to extraordinary lengths to protect their map.
Bumping up against each other as they argue and compare their particular inaccurate map to another’s inaccurate version of their map, all the while ignoring the actual reality.
The skill is been able to determine what is true and what is truth.
As humans, we tend to be pretty biased when it comes to our own beliefs and values.
We believe that we are fundamentally good and that we want the best, and we forgive ourselves quickly when we make errors.
However, when looking at another, we are convinced that their motives must be less virtuous or truthful than ours.
Your personal truth, backed by your bias and life experiences, etc. feels real and feels truthful to you. But…….this is not the same as truth.
Learning how to make these distinctions is vital for a more fulfilled and less confrontational life or a life that is less filled with uncertainty and distress. This is one of the pillars of creating a wise life.
We teach our clients how to make these distinctions.