The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there. —Yasutani Roshi
Is there anything that we can truly know is objective reality? My answer is I don’t know. My internal jury is still out and deliberating!
What I do know is that my subjective experience is what matters to my life. If I think you hit me and I feel the pain, then whether you agree that you hit me really isn’t that important to me. I know science is all about proving what is objectively real and consensual, but how many times do Doctors fail to cure their patients? How often does scientific opinion turn right around? My mother was taught in school that the atom was the smallest thing in the universe and could not be split.
And I well remember being told not to eat butter as it would raise my cholesterol levels – that opinion has changed.
When you have a problem do you want someone who knows all the theories of what works for your ‘condition’? Do you want someone to tell you the way you should respond to their standard treatment of that condition? Or would you prefer to have someone pay attention to your uniqueness and treat you more holistically?
Have you, like me, ever wondered if the Doctor will believe you when you tell them how you feel and tell you there is nothing wrong with you and you are just making a fuss about nothing – possibly because they can’t find what is wrong. Or would you prefer to work with someone who respects and accepts as valid, your subjective perception of reality and helps you towards your goal without judging whether you are ‘right’ to feel that or want this?
I really like the fact that the model within which I work is completely respectful of subjective experience. So when someone comes to me asking to change something, I take them at their word and help them get from where they are to where they would prefer to be.
Here is an example – I had a client who came to see me for help to get rid of a bridge phobia. Once she had answered a few questions in the clinic I took her to Kew Bridge which was 3 minutes away, and asked her to walk across it with me.
She fell to the ground and started crying and screaming ‘I can’t I can’t’. Kew Bridge is a busy main road and there were a lot of people glaring at me as if they might have been wondering what the hell I was doing to this poor woman!
So I took her back to the privacy of the clinic and did some NLP magic, and then we went back to test our work. As she’d told me she had a voice coming out of her forehead telling her to jump into the water, which turned out to be why she felt she couldn’t walk or drive across bridges, as strange as that sounded to me, I completely took her at her word.
By the way, many of the clients with bridge phobias that I have seen, have something similar going on and fear they might suddenly jump over the bridge and fall to their deaths! It may sound crazy to me – I mean, why on earth would you think like that? But then I don’t have a bridge phobia so of course that isn’t how I am thinking.
In this case, I put my hand onto her forehead so the voice was unable to get out! As we walked across the bridge this time, with my hand glued to her forehead to stop the voice getting out, she started shouting just as loud as before. However, now she was screaming, “I can’t believe it – this is better than sex.” You can imagine the looks I was getting this time. But I was just so happy she was able to cross a bridge for the first time in 40 years.
We then returned to the clinic and as she had now done the bridge crossing once we just had to make sure this voice never shouted at her again.
By working with her experience of reality, without questioning the validity or ‘reality’ of her subjective experience, we were able to clear the phobia, and I heard from her a few weeks later to tell me how happy she was now she was free of her phobia. In fact she felt so free that she started doing all sorts of other things she couldn’t have done before. Happy outcome!
When Richard Bandler said “the meaning of the communication is the feedback you get” he was bang on target, because if I tell you I like you, but you think to yourself “she really hates me” then I may as well have saved my breath!
So I love the fact that the NLP model is completely respectful of subjective experience, and even if you are telling me that you are seeing cubes of sugar flying through the air and it is upsetting you, I will work with you to disappear the sugar cubes. I might tell you I can’t see them, but I would also never tell you that you were ‘wrong’ and the sugar cubes didn’t exist.
My personal jury is still out deliberating on the subject of objective truth but I am sure that working with people from a place where you totally respect the validity of their own personal perception and subjective experience is a most useful way of working.
Please comment below and come back soon for more voice, NLP, personal development and general ranting Laura-style 🙂