Riddle Me This...

You can’t hold me but feel my effects on you all the time. You can’t see me, but I effect everything you see. You can’t hear me, but I determine what you hear.

What am I?

The Human Mind.

Science hasn’t cracked the code on how the ‘Mind’ emerges or even agree what it is. Many people think of mind as what they are conscious of, but mind is so much more, and many of the most important processes which make up it happen outside of conscious awareness entirely.

That’s where things get interesting. 

When we have a thought, particularly around a topic we value highly and has a high emotional charge linked to it, or when we are activated by something we read or see on social media, something interesting happens...

Our mind, without our conscious awareness, creates a new meaning and may shoot off in a different direction taking our train of thought somewhere other than being present to what is.

When this happens, we frequently get triggered and respond emotionally. Thereafter we have forgotten that we have invented a point of view and treat our point of view as the reality about the situation itself.

And this is where, as a student of NLP you have the tools to stay present when other people get reactive or riled up. 

Practicing staying present to what is actually said in any conversation is not something you just need to do once, it is something that requires continuous practice.

It’s something you develop greater skill with over time and the more you practice it - the more you learn to master your mind.

The first step to mastering your mind is to notice when it arises and how it moves.

Each person’s mind will have certain patterns of movement.

Certain attitudes around topics you can, when the topic is brought up, predict where the person’s mind is likely to go. 

For example, if we review this past week. Where and when did you get caught up in a story that triggered a reaction?

For many people, it was Megan Markle and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah. 

As soon as the interview was aired, social media and talk show hosts and their guests around the world erupted and started taking positions…

…re-acting to what they heard.

Based on what someone else heard…

… based on what some else said.

And so forth.

Behind every communication, there are, if we simplify things a bit, 3 major processes occurring every time a narrative is expressed.

These are:

  • Languaging
  • Hearing
  • Minding 

Those untrained about how language works and unaware for example that words are symbols, i.e., code we use to attempt to describe our experiences may not know that language itself has some big limitations. 

It is never a 1:1 mapping of the world. 

Without further specification, the words expressed, need to be interpreted – and that leaves the barn door wide open for how that interpretation occurs.

For example, the relatively abstract sentence of “Bob was mad” leaves a lot open to interpretation.

Who is Bob?

Perhaps you think of a person. I am talking of my daughter's teddy, Bob.

Point is the references we hold (or imagine when they are unclear) have a huge impact on communication. 

What is not clear and explicit forces us to create the missing pieces and interpret the meaning and relationship of things.

And how we interpret is dependent on…


The context and non-verbal markers that surround a communication help us make inferences.

Yet, here too, the inferences we create are not passive. 

They are heavily influenced by our OWN expectations, past influences and experience of living.

Those unaware that listening is an active process, not a purely passive one, may not realise that they themselves are active in the process of creating a representation of what they have heard and fill in the blanks for what was left out and make up meaning from what they inferred – which may not be present or accurate to what was actually said.

We all do this all the time. 

Depending on how ‘clean’ we have trained our listening skills to literally hear what is said and the more we can ask well targeted questions to recover those bits of the communication that are absent or not adequately specified…

…the better our ability is to stay present and aware of:

  • what is so
  • what can’t be so 
  • and what might be so…

in any conversation.

Over time, when we do then add detail or judgments about a situation, we are then able to tag our own active process and not distort it with something the other person said or frequently did not say!

Here is where the magical process of our minds come in.

Frequently whenever someone speaks, the listener, unaware of how their own mind operates does not realise that they have added/deleted/distorted or created a new generalisation from what was said.

They never realise they have done so. It’s one of the great tricks of our minds.

Their mind creates meaning, finds evidence to support it and creates a new conclusion(s).

The metaphorical ‘cinema projector’ in their mind presents the ‘evidence’ that what they think is so, repeats the process several times which then reinforces the feeling of certainty that what they think is so.

Thus, two people who hear the same interview (and go through this normal and natural process) can hear two entirely different things and come to two very different conclusions about the topic.

Each rigidly holding on to the view that they are right and unware of their own injections and modifications to what was said.

This can result in disharmony and each side shouting at the other.

So what’s the trick to staying sane?

How can you reduce this happening to you? How can you avoid getting ‘triggered’ by the news and social media?

The short answer is: Get out of your head and return to your senses. 

Rather than trying to process the world with “who is right and who is wrong?”, instead ask some different questions:

  • How has this person constructed their view of the world?
  • What are they referring to (in the world) that leads them to think that way?
  • How does their implied causal logic work?
  • Is that really the case?
  • Where and how has meaning been created?
  • Is that really so?

If you are looking to really take your listening and communication skills up several levels, learn to use the Meta Model.

One very useful application of the Meta Model is in recovering key bits of missing information in a person’s communication, so you can quickly and skillfully construct a mental map of how they are experiencing the world.

This gives you the ability to really help them feel heard and opens the way for them to remap how they are viewing the world so they experience greater choice.

Practice applying the Meta Model on your own thinking regularly. When you combine it with the Framing Tool, you have an incredibly powerful set of tools to begin to master your mind.

And help others.

If you would like to learn more about how to use the Meta Model and Framing Tool, check out this free 1 hour training.

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I'm Tom.

Everyone has something they’d like to change in their life. I’m here to help you transform the behaviours that get in your way so you can have the life you really want.

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