The Givens of NLP and Personal Development

The following list of presuppositions, or “givens” were teaching I gleaned from NLP practitioner training. Many of these are counter-intuitive, so please keep an open mind.

The Givens of NLP, Your Personal Power Matrix

  • The past does not equal the future. You had a past experience or outcome. You generalize that future experiences will be the same, but it is not so.


  • The map is not the territory. You can’t drive on the lines, or swim through the blue on a map. You think your perception is real, but it is a map your mind makes to help you navigate your life experience.


  • People respond to perception, not reality. It’s similar to The Matrix when Morpheus offers Neo the choice: take the blue pill, or take the red pill. Our conclusions are limited by our understanding. Never assume anything is real. Don’t believe everything you think, or think you know.


  • People are always doing their best. This ties into the idea of cognitive bias. People don’t usually have bad intentions, but we tend to assume the worst. We should not allow ourselves to assume the worst. Recall: the map is not the territory; our perception is not reality. We judge ourselves based on our good intentions, or motives. We say things like, “I didn’t mean it.” However, we assume the worst motives and intentions of other people’s actions and behavior.


  • No one is broken, or a victim of circumstance. Focusing on the negative makes you feel bad. These are extremely limiting and disempowering beliefs. It follows that if no one is broken, then you have a responsibility to fix yourself. Convention psychologists are “fixers” of “broken” people. NLP takes a different approach. We never want to be a fixer, or a guru because it disempowers others. NLP seeks to empower and challenging limiting mindsets.


  • Empowerment comes from responsibility. Take responsibility for your thoughts and emotions and actions. Personal power, growth and development comes from responsibility. Maturity is accepting responsibility.


  • Everything is achievable. Just because we don’t know how something is possible doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In fact, the word “impossible” needs to be eliminated. Calling something impossible limits your hope and confidence and self-esteem. Never question your ability, or the ability of others. Instead, seek appropriate strategies.


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