The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Thursday, February 5, 2015


The child’s view

When I was of primary school age my parents lived in the Sudan and then Nyasaland (now Malawi). We came back to England regularly , so travel, for me, was very much the norm. I loved geography, which brought the travel to life, and in particular I loved maps. Maps of where I lived, maps of places I’d been to, maps tracing journeys along the way, maps of other places, maps in general. I could easily relate the map data to ground data.

My favourite book was an atlas of the world – and it was the biggest and best one available at that time. I didn’t just study my atlas, I would read it. Every page was a story containing all that information about every part of the world. And when you read a book as often as I read that atlas, you get to know all about the characters – or so I thought.

While I loved and kept revisiting all the ‘physical’ maps in my atlas, I hardly ever studied the weather and rainfall maps, and never studied the geological maps. I didn’t quite get (as an 8 year old) what all THAT stuff was about. As far as I could see, mountains were mountains, valleys were valleys, plains were plains – there they were, as plain as day. At that age I never asked why they were there or what they were made of.

Fortunately my love of geography as a subject took me on a further journey of knowledge and understanding. As I got older I discovered so much more about the Earth – including what was going on above and below the surface – and eventually my interest spread through the entire atlas as I
studied rainfall and rock structures with as much fascination as everything else.

Maps of the world

One of the ‘bumper stickers’ of NLP is the Map is not the Territory. Whilst this leads to the notion that we are not our behaviour, it also points to fact that we all have a ‘worldview’ and that our Maps of The World are a coded facsimile of that view and how we run our lives within that World.

This collection of our Maps can be described as our Atlas – and of course as we are all unique, then each of our Atlases is unique too. Yes, some of my maps will coincide with yours, or his or hers, or theirs, but never all of my maps. The other thing we can come to understand, of course, is that our Atlas is not set in stone, and therefore we can adapt our maps, remove them and add new ones.

Thinking further about geographical maps of the world and comparing them to our own maps, what if we only understand those of our own maps in terms of what is ‘on the surface’ – rather in the same way that, at first, I could only relate to the physical maps in geography?

In terms of the ‘geography of the Mind’, it’s easier to make sense of the form (the maps of what’s on the surface), than it is to understand the formless (that which still is there but not in consciousness). Or, to put it another way, if the surface is all that we think we know, the structure under the surface (our geology) is ‘formless’ because we aren’t consciously aware of it.

Making connections

There have been countless questions and discussions concerning The Mind, the nature of the Mind, how it works, and the connected-ness of its various constituent sub-divisions, since the dawn of psychology. Advances over the last fifty years are beginning to show us, in a variety of ways, that what we thought of the Mind in the past is now not necessarily all true, or all that is there. In terms of my atlas analogy, science – both practical and theoretical – is discovering not just uncharted regions, but also new patterns and activities above and below the surface.

The structural connected-ness of The Mind and Body, for instance, is now more understood in a variety of ways - all of which overlap. Methodologies such as NLP, Clean Language, TimeLine™ Therapy, TFT, IEMT, and many other recent advances, all tap into the geology of that structural connected-ness – which is why, I suspect, they work so very well for people because they make those connections function once more. It might also explain why science (currently) has difficulty in accepting their validity, because it is hard to prove that something under the surface works if the only means of proof you have is designed for things on the surface.

I find with clients – both in a therapeutic sense of change as well as a coaching and learning sense of change – that structural connected-ness comes up all the time. Being ‘conventional’ with clients may well work in the long run, but if it’s connected-ness they’re looking to achieve, then why would anyone choose the long run ONCE they know there’s a quick and direct route. Why would anyone build a house on sand, once they know that it’s sand and what sand can and can’t support? Once we know the code of a combination lock why would we try and open it in any other way!


So in terms of my atlas – and my Atlas – I now have a much fuller sense of both worlds. The geographical I got to know much quicker than the mental, but that is just my experience. Everyone’s experience is different, everyone’s world is different.

I just know that understanding what is in YOUR Atlas, what all the maps are about, and what you can change and acquire to enhance and enlarge your Atlas, is a great part of life’s quest.

And as a postscript – why do we call an atlas an atlas? Is it related to the mythology of Atlas? Does our Atlas carry our world on its shoulders? Are we our Atlas? It’s only a thought – or is it?!

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