Why we think the way we do


Why we think the way we do? Here’s the big picture of how your internal map of reality operates to generate your feelings, thoughts, and behaviours.





Modalities - the internal representations we make based on our senses

These internal representations are made using one of several thinking modalities, which mirror our external senses.

An internal representation can therefore be a:

  • picture
  • sound
  • smell
  • taste
  • feeling
  • touch sensation
  • internal dialog [what most people consider to be thinking]




Sub-modalities - e.g. large/small, black/white, near/far

These internal representations can be constructed with a number of variables, which are called sub-modalities.

Just to give you an idea of what a sub-modality is, an internal picture could be:

  • large or small
  • colour or black and white
  • close to you or far away

These are three categories of visual sub-modalities. These sub-modalities are like a filing system. They’re the mental equivalent of putting some documents in a folder of a certain colour and other things in a folder of another colour, to help you tell them apart and keep track of them.

It is through sub-modalities that you make the millions of distinctions you make every second.

It is through sub-modalities that you are able to:

  • recognize faces and voices
  • keep track of beliefs and values
  • see close to you or far away
  • have likes and dislikes
  • make millions of distinctions you make in every moment




Strategies - a series or sequence of internal representations in a certain order

We string these internal representations; each made in a certain modality and using certain sub-modalities, into sequences called strategies.

Everything you do and everything you feel is the end result of a strategy, a series of internal representations in a certain order.

So you can see that strategies are very important in determining how you experience life, for example:

  • If you procrastinate, it’s the end result of a strategy.
  • If you’re motivated, it’s the end result of a strategy.
  • So if you’re happy, sad, anxious, depressed, or experience any other internal state, it’s the end point of a strategy.

And, as you might have guessed, by changing a strategy, you can change the end result.




Cybernetic loops - the combination of strategies, states and behaviours

These strategies ultimately end in either a behaviour or a state of mind, and it these strategies and states of mind create your experience of life, internally and externally.

The combination of any or all of the following three items are what scientists call a cybernetic loop:

  • internal representations, whether singly or in sequences called strategies
  • internal states
  • external behaviours

This means that whenever you change one of them, the other two change.

So if you change your internal representations, you change your behaviour and your state.

If you change your state, it changes your behaviour and your internal representations.

If you change your behaviour, it changes your state and your internal representations.




Please Note: This presentation draws heavily on and fully acknowledges the work of Bill Harris of Centerpointe Research Institute .




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