Are you living in a world that is flat?

February 17, 2011

On December 1st 1955 African American seamstress Rosa Parks refused to do something which had been considered ‘normal’ in the racially divided Alabama society she was a part of. She refused to give her seat on a bus up to a white man, which unbelievably Alabama State law dictated she must do at the time. Her arrest, led to the boycott of the Montgomery bus company by black Americans, which forced the bus company to review its segregation policy or face bankruptcy. In 1956 the Federal Court ruled segregation on buses to be unconstitutional. Rosa Parks was one of the brave people who refused to accept what was considered normal at the time which led not only to change in the law, but the birth of the modern civil rights movement.

More recently, we are seeing situations change daily in the Middle East where people are no longer passive to the authoritarian rule they have been subject to for decades. People are demonstrating and as a consequence, a mass change of attitude (inspired by a few) is occurring. Dictatorships are falling, with the possibility of a new open way of living emerging.

Through centuries and on a smaller sale, decades, society changes as a consequence of scientific discovery and changes in a way in which the constructions of society are accepted or rejected by the masses. The cases presented above are examples of how scientific (Newton) and social change (Parks) has impacted the way we live. Examples of change are everywhere you look, the question is, are you ready to be part of a changing world, or more importantly are you ready to be the instigator of change in your world?

There are many people I meet in the course of my work, who seek out change but simultaneously have deep resistance to change. Their resistance brings about a justification for their current behaviours and drive to maintain homeostasis in their lives. These people have a fear of change because the change brings an unfamiliar territory, so the familiar seems more attractive even if is problematic. As a change agent it is necessary to deal with the cognitive dissonance a client brings with them and help that client build very strong internal representations that change is a natural process, and then help them build congruency with the change the client is seeking.

What I am talking about here, that is preventing change, is the person’s ‘flat world’ pattern. This is where a person is so fixed with a certain belief, that the belief acts as a filter and all the evidence contrary to that belief is not processed as a compelling reason to change. We have all had experience of being so fixed on something we ignore the sensory data that points to new ways. It is important to recognise that all beliefs are limiting if they are over generalised, and through the overgeneralization we miss so much. If we are open to new ideas we see and hear so much more and learn the reality we have constructed for ourselves can be so much richer when we are open.

There are at least two ways that the flat world pattern can show up. Remember I am using the term ‘flat world’ as metaphor for over generalised beliefs.

a. Beliefs about yourself, sometimes called core beliefs. These beliefs often show up in statements like ‘I am no good at learning languages’ or ‘I am crap in relationships’. Such statements act as filters and the belief determines experience. The opposite and more constructive way is to reflect on ongoing new experiences and the reflections promote learning and changes.

b. Beliefs about society and systems. This is where you passively accept as normal out of date ideology present in systems such as businesses, communities and society. Many of us have witnessed the dinosaur manager in a business who runs the business in a way that may have been acceptable and profitable 30 years ago but in the modern world that business is going in one direction and that is down. The same is true of dinosaur politicians and community leaders. To succeed in life people must be open to the fact that systems are changing all the time. As an individual you are part of the system, you can be passive and accept what is equivalent to flat earth or you can be a Rosa Parks and be a change instigator.

Thirty eight years ago John Grinder was part of a partnership that created a new field called Neuro Linguistic Programming. Prior to NLP, therapists and change agents generally believed the change process needs to take time, involve lots of talking and be painful.  NLP challenged the popular consensus that was popular in the present in field of psychology and psychiatry at that time. NLP provided rapid interventions that created lasting change without the client having to talk for hours in sessions over long periods about their problems. Initially NLP was rejected as a fad by the medical professionals and the educational establishment. It’s now great to see NLP integrated into teacher training college and GP’s becoming NLP Practitioners. We still have a long way to go in NLP before the field of psychology fully opens up to us, but we are heading in the right direction and with the right leadership NLP can only expand more.

Interestingly, many people in the field of NLP are living on their own ‘flat earth’. They are so mesmerised by the work the originators of NLP created and the results they can achieve with the classic code of NLP, that they shut down to new ideas. Some exciting new ideas have been developed by NLP co-creator John Grinder. The Classic Code of NLP (Bandler Grinder 1972-79) is indeed brilliant, however there is whole world of NLP beyond the world of the classic code of NLP. In recent years, I have been working with John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St Clair on developing the New (New) Code of NLP to its current level of development. I say current level of development because next year it will be at a different level of development and it will always be developing. The term New Code NLP first emerged in the field of NLP in the mid 80’s and then it was a revolution in NLP. The revolution was part of a different thinking process in NLP co-creator, John Grinder. The good news is that a different way of thinking about NLP is still present today as new innovative people join us in the development of New Code NLP or should I say ‘‘New (New) Code NLP.”. To find out more about New Code NLP, click this link.

The world is full of stories where people with tenacious spirits refused to accept the norms of the society where they lived, and challenged the status quo, with the outcome being a complete change in universal thinking and being. You are capable of doing the same on either a macro or micro level, the choice is yours on what you want to change. One thing that is guaranteed, is that somewhere in your life you are subscribing to an out of date set of beliefs and as a consequence are living in your own version of flat earth. Now is always the best time to make a change, the most important question to ask yourself is ‘when am I going to make this change?’

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