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Do You See In, Or Do You See Out The NLP Hierarchy of Ideas Part 2

In Part 1 of this article we discussed the Hierarchy of Ideas technique from the NLP Coaching Practitioner Training and the two types of thinking – abstract, big picture, capable of connecting the dots and the specific, detailed thinking that allows us to notice minute differences but misses completely the pattern behind the specific examples. One example to make it easier for you to understand would be food. A bigger pattern of which food is an example of would be nourishment, and an even bigger pattern for nourishment would be health. An example of food would be wheat, and even more specific examples of wheat would be bread, pasta, bakery items, and we can continue from there into even smaller and more specific examples of these. We postulated that both are necessary, that both have useful but also not so good aspects and we focused onto the lack of ability for abstract thinking present in many people.

One day our dishwasher started spewing water on the floor and promptly I called a “specialist” in dishwashers. He came over, looked at our Fisher and Paykel dish drawer machine and very expertly said, “I can’t help you with this one. I specialize in JennAir dishwashers”.

I did my best to explain to him where was the problem since I noticed the valve connected to one of the hoses not working well. There was nothing I could do. The man was adamant – he did not know this model, and therefore there was nothing he could do.

I could have repaired the machine myself if I had the valve. It’s not rocket science! I understand the pattern, the principle of how that works, so then the details from machine to machine are easily resolved. I did not have the tools and the part (the specifics) but I understood the principle (big picture). Unfortunately the dishwasher “specialist” was so specialized that he specialized himself out of a job that day.

Now, a cell in a leaf does not know about the twig or the branch or the tree because it is too specific. Or does it?

In the 50’s Wilder Penfield was instrumental in the development of a very important idea – that every cell in your body retains the memories of the whole body. This bears repeating: every cell in your body retains the memories of the whole body. See The Heart’s Code: Tapping the Wisdom and Power of Our Heart Energy by Paul Pearsall

What this means is that every cell knows and remembers the big picture. At the same time every cell is specialized for the organ it belongs to and fulfills the functions pertaining to that organ. One function of that cell (specialization) does not negate the other (the knowledge and the memories of the whole organism). Only like this the whole organism can be healthy.

Now think of yourself as a cell in a big organism called society. You have the possibility of knowing the whole picture, but you are conditioned to disregard the big picture, to not be able to think of all the information – in other words the “society” decides that you have no “need to know”, so you don’t. Still wonder why your life is unfulfilled, incomplete and plagued by strife and struggle?

Are “the people” of society one group? Well, yes and no. If you take away from the cell its power of decision (for example of what to take in and what to eliminate, or how to replicate and when), as well as its memories of the whole body, the cell ceases to fulfill its independent role in the big organism and it could become at best idle and at worst destructive. The whole organism is made of trillions of individual cells. That’s why our bodies are not made of a single big cell but of trillions of small independent cells who regardless of how small they are they still retain the knowledge and information of the whole organism and their independent importance. They retain the big picture. The body does not exist in and of itself. It exists because of all these individual independent cells working together.

From the perspective of a critical and independent thinking individual, the organization of our society is upside down. It is his/her individual power that is of foremost importance because it is this – together with all other individuals – that makes society what it is, not the other way around. Individual power is not given to you by society; it is your individual power that makes society healthy and powerful.

From this point of view, what does the social fabric look like right now? Well, let’s see – wars, strife, struggle, poverty, unhappiness, ill health, mind control and propaganda, economic and financial trouble everywhere you look, corruption, crony capitalism, uncertainty, fear, and on and on we could go. What’s this telling you?

To an astute observer capable of seeing the big picture and thinking abstractly, our society looks like a gigantic one blob of mindless little cells deprived of their individual power, stripped of their individual purpose idling around. The collective society would like you to think that there is nothing more to its individual members than a bunch of machine-like, robotic minds fused into one collective mind.

Current technological civilization depends on specialized (read very specific micro-knowledge) structures. Or at least that’s what we are led to believe. In certain respects, this is necessary (like the little cell from your trillion cells doing its individual micro-job brilliantly). But the overall effect on people (unlike the cells in your body) is a very strong tendency to forget the big picture information of the whole society. Remember the real cells in your body retain the information and memories of the whole body. Well, you don’t seem to know the whole of reality because of highly compartmentalized micro-thinking in which you are “educated” and which you are required to adopt.

One of the results of this mind set is the lack of power experienced by most people who never really get to experience it. So when the subject of personal power is presented to them in trainings and seminars, it goes nowhere. Every person craves this personal power, they all feel the lack of it but, the whole subject fades away quickly. People react with shoulder shrugs and bewildered looks of confusion. Personal power? Are you talking about lifting weights?

And therefore, the whole notion of critical thinking and independent free thought – which leads to personal power – fails to make an impression, because without personal power, what’s the message of independent choice and freedom of thought? A person can choose any toping s/he wants form the three toppings allowed on their pizza? S/he can ask for a raise or apply for a better job with another company? He can get on welfare or if s/he’s lucky get a low paid job at a fast food chain? Is that all?

Unfortunately for many people that is all! Not for all people – for example see the excellent “Beyond Belief” Documentary as an example of how people from all walks of life refused to be caught in this lack-of-power mindset and how these people make a positive difference in society.

For the rest of the people who succumb to the “no need to know” pattern, slowly but surely they become more and more cynical, depressed, and “realistic”. Life’s a b**** and then you die. They close the lid on the box of their lives. All their physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual developments undergo a major shift in order to accommodate the narrowly compartmentalized and boxed reality, a box in which the individual has virtually no power at all.

If all you know and can think about is the left hand quarter inch of the leaf, how can you ever hope to get in touch with the completeness of your true inner power which lies beyond the tree, beyond the forest and maybe even beyond the galaxy?

Learn how to observe the big picture. Learn how to think abstractly beside your ability to be specific. Any good coach needs this otherwise s/he will get lost in the myriad details of the client. If you learn it will give you an amazing ability to establish business deals, negotiate promotions or relationships, and you will gain an outstanding understanding of society as a whole, not to speak of gaining personal power. Then and only then you can begin to truly help others. I am looking forward to share this with you.

Be well