NLP is a communication model. It is all about how we send and receive messages (verbal and non-verbal), how we process that information, and how we access mind-body-emotion states.
As a communication model, NLP explores many questions about how we communicate. Yet even more centrally, it explores the meaning of communication.
What is communication? While communicating certain involves sending and receiving messages, it is not that. It is not even talk. We can talk and not communicate. Do you know that one? Communication is about communing, about co-sharing meanings until a sense of understanding is created. We co-create by sending messages back and forth until eventually we create a sense of union, at least in understanding, if not at some level of agreement.
NLP explores the processes within our mind- body- emotion system for how we communicate, for how we use our nervous system to create our working “model of the world” which we then use to navigate life. We communicate by creating, sending, receiving, and processing linguistic and non-linguistic maps.
These maps are our way of talking about, symbolising, and altering our understanding of the world.
The genius of NLP communication models is that it is based or something very simple: our nervous system and brain inputs information from the world via our senses from our sensory based see-hear-feel-smell-taste senses.
Bandler and Grinder simply used this sense modalities to describe our internal processing as the variables with which we communicate.
Designating these sensory distinctions as representational systems, they noted that we use them for representing to ourselves again (re-presenting) what we have already seen, heard, felt, etc.
As we have seen, heard, felt, smelled, tasted things as we encounter them through our “sensory end receptors” of eyes, ears, skin, tongue, and nose, so we make sense of things by representing them to ourselves. We create representations and play them as a movie on the screen of our mind.
What does this mean? It means that “thoughts” and “awareness” and “knowledge” and all the rest of the vague nominalised terms ultimately boil down to the “movies” that we play in the theatre of our mind. That’s our way of neurologically mapping things. We re-present the world “out there” inside our mind and we can go inside and revisit the recordings we have made.
This is how we communicate to ourselves. We create see-hear-feel representations of the sense modalities and linguistic representations of those representations. These are the variables that make up what we call “mind”. We use these variables to communicate to ourselves and to each other. These gives us the representational system model of mind.