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Exploring Your Internal Map Of Reality: Part 1 – What Is It?

Internal Map Of Reality - Dot map

What is your ‘Internal Map Of Reality?’

The Internal Map Of Reality is an internal processing system that takes what you experience and processes it in various ways. This processing creates your life. It evolved as you grew up and was created for the purpose of keeping you safe and able to deal with the world as you experience it.

For instance, if we examine your beliefs, these are shaped by your experience of the world. Initially they are shaped by your parents’ or care-giver’s set of beliefs. However, as you go through life you gather further life experiences, which in turn further shape your beliefs – which form part of your Internal Map Of Reality.

Of course, some beliefs serve you and others do not serve you. For instance if you had a traumatic childhood, your beliefs will largely be centred around avoiding trauma and seeking safety.

All the above tends to suggest that your thinking processes are not self created.

This is inaccurate.

Indeed I would contend that ALL your experiences are self created.

However most of them are created unconsciously so that they appear to come from somewhere else. This is the source of the ‘victim mentality.’

This is not to assign fault or guilt to what you experience. Merely that if you want to have a life built on your terms, then you need to take responsibility for your experiences, because it is you who create them, either consciously or unconsciously.

Another point to note is that whatever you focus on is the key to everything in life. If you focus on what you don’t want, most likely you will get what you don’t want. Likewise if you focus on what you want, you most likely will get what you want.

This leads us to the assertion that runs as follows:

“For any outcome, whether internal or external, there’s a certain way of thinking and acting that will get it for you.”

All that is required is for you to find it and be able to adopt it. Finding it may be easy, but the real challenge is to to adopt it diligently. This is because our system (Internal Map of Reality) will resist. It will resist because it is perceived as a threat to our internal safety

What makes up your Internal Map Of Reality and how does it work?

Internal Map Of Reality - Diagram

If you look at the diagram above, you’ll see three grey boxes: Emotional State, Behaviour and Filters.

Essentially what happens is

  1. We see/hear/feel/taste or smell something. In other words you have sensory input from the external world.
  2. Because there is so much information coming in, it is necessary to filter it out: in fact 96 to 97% of it is removed from our immediate consciousness. There are those that claim that the rest is not lost, but stored somewhere in our subconscious mind.
  3. An ‘Internal Representation’ is created (definition below).
  4. Emotional state(s) are reached, a behaviour is exhibited, or both.

The filters that are applied include memories, decisions, beliefs, values, ways of sorting information and ‘Strategies’ (more on that in a later article).

These filters have 3 effects on what we experience. They

  1. delete information from our consciousness.
  2. distort the information
  3. generalize our experience.

For example, we may see something that doesn’t tally with our beliefs and our mind will delete it from our consciousness – such as a flying pig.

It may also delete things it thinks are not important to us – for instance we may pay attention to a door that we walk through, but not to the dirt on the door, or even the color of the door

Of all the effects above, each one is capable of being ‘resourceful’ or ‘non resourceful’. For instance, it helps to generalise the door as being a door and not a window. It doesn’t help to generalise it as a window, (or a giraffe for that matter!)

If things were not right with our internal map, we may distort the appearance of the door and get the height wrong and injure ourself attempting to go through it.

Similarly, if we don’t generalize the door correctly, we might think it is a window.

Whilst the examples above are trivial, they still apply to more serious experiences including trauma.

The second part of the process is to create an ‘internal representation.’

What is an ‘Internal Representation?

Well, consider what happens when you see something. The light waves enter your body through your eyes and are in a specific pattern of dark and light, color etc. This pattern is transmitted along your optic nerve to your brain where it gets filtered as above, then it is stored as a ‘visual’ representation in your brain. The same applies to all the other sensory input.

5 of the 6 Modalities

5 of the 6 Modalities

This results in 5 to 6 ways of thinking based on the kind of sense organ involved. We call these thinking modalities, i.e.

  1. Auditory – what we hear
  2. Visual – what we see
  3. Kinaesthetic – what we feel
  4. Olfactory – what we smell
  5. Gustatory – what we taste.

The 6th modality is called ‘Auditory Digital’ and represents the content or data of what we hear – for instance, the ‘little voice’ inside us that comments on everything we experience.

‘Auditory Digital’ – The ‘Little Voice’ in your head

An internal representation is thus a pattern of data stored in the mind that is one of the six modalities.

So what is the use of all this information?

Well, if you can become aware, for instance, of the ‘little voice’ inside you and what it says, you can choose to ignore it or to pay attention to it, depending on whether the message serves you or not.

You could choose to ‘not feel sad’ or ‘feel happy’ in response to an external stimulus.

In other words, you can control your life, not let life control you!

There are generally 4 things that this will allow you to do – you’ll be able to control:

  1. how you feel, and other internal states.
  2. your behaviour, or ‘non behaviour’
  3. which people and situations you attract or become attracted to
  4. the meaning you assign to what happens

In the following series of articles, we’ll take all of this apart so you can examine each part of the Map Of Reality and really understand how it works in detail.

Gaining an understanding leads to awareness, which in turn creates choice.

Next Episode: your Beliefs