The Map is Not the Territory

Have you ever studied a map of London, looked at the streets, the building names, the river Thames? Was it like being in London? Did you experience London? Probably not (not even if you have a great imagination!). Was it an accurate representation of London? Of course it was. But it was NOT London.

The same goes for the human mind. You see, our memories and experiences are stored in our minds, much like a map. They help create our reality and how we experience the world. But they are not our reality. They simply represent our reality.

The map is not the territory. Polish-American scientist and philosopher Alfred Korzybski encapsulated a  view that an abstraction derived from something, or a reaction to it, is not the thing itself (source: Wikipedia).

As a coach, I enter my client’s “maps” to understand them so I can best help them. The more I understand their map, the better I am able to understand how their past experiences have shaped who they are today. And then I can assist them make amazing transformational change. While working with a client it is important for me to always know that their map is just a representation, it is not them. Their map is not the territory. It is important for me to hold this belief to be true. Can you imagine what sort of world we would live in if we all believed that our views of reality were the only ones?

So how can we use this? Think about the words you would use to describe different areas of your life like your career, relationships, health and wealth. I you are honest; the words you use are a direct reflection of what you believe to be true and how you value yourself. Someone else might use different words. How you language something becomes your reality. What if you were to change the language that isn’t serving you and expand your map? Who is getting the results you want? What sort of language do they use? Even the smallest adjustment in what you say can lead to the biggest changes. Give it a go, I would love to hear your results!