While enjoying the first day of the New Year in an unspoiled tropical island in South East Asia, a parasail Malaysian flag catches my eye. It is gracefully carrying someone along the coast.
Everything else stops existing and I imagine myself up there with a feeling of freedom capturing the beauty of the nature around me for just a few moments. 'Flying gives you wings to achieve everything your heart longs for.' I think to myself.
My body feels good, my mind is calm; during the last couple of days, they have both been nurtured by the blue sea, sound sleep and bird singing. I feel empowered. My body and state of mind support me, they are in balance. The thought of being up there is exhilarating.
A strong belief and burning desire for kicking off the year with a new experience takes over me. It turns to a decision and action. I get up and go straight to the nice Chinese man to book a parasailing session. Few minutes later, I am indeed up in the sky, enjoying a stunning view and filled with beautiful plans for the New Year.
How does the Communication Model of NLP developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder relate to all this?
Through our senses, the brain receives 2,000,000 bits of information every second. The conscious can only cope with 134 every second. A set of three automatic mechanisms 'filter' the incoming information so we do not get overwhelmed.
How do we do that? What are the filters? Deletion-Distortion-Generalization.
The parasail Malaysian flag is an 'external event'. Through my senses I become aware of it.
I 'delete' other external events or motion around me at that moment. Through 'distortion', a major tool for imagination, I can already picture myself up there and through 'generalization' I tell myself flying is one of the most amazing, uplifting experiences for everyone.
After the 134 bits enter my mind, there is a thought created or 'internal representation' in NLP terms. It interacts with my emotional state and my physiology. Both support the internal representation at that moment fully.
Others around me have different experiences, through their filters, they end up with different set of 134 bits. I myself will go for a totally different set a minute later anyway.
How is it decided what we will delete, distort and generalize?
Another set of filters: Values, beliefs, past experiences and decisions we took. Our Attitude.
At that specific moment in time, my belief that it is important to kick off the year with adventure is strong; I want to send a message to myself and my body that we can do this. The combination of past experiences and my own conclusions about them lead to my behavior. In this specific occasion, it is me taking action, booking my parasailing with the nice Chinese man.This is my outcome.
The Communication Model helps us understand how we process information, why certain events cause specific reactions within us and outside of us and ultimately helps us improve our behavior.
Another day, I notice crabs on the beach. The whole process of deleting, distorting and generalizing takes place. I feel uncomfortable and past experiences of getting bitten go through my mind. I put my slippers on even though I really like walking on the sand. I make a note in my head to find out how really dangerous these crabs are.