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Neuro-Linguistic Programming Presuppositions – 12 Rules to Change Your Reality

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) looks at how an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and actions produce the results they get right now. NLP is used for peak performance, overcoming phobias, and building unstoppable confidence to name a few of its endless applications. The technology can change how you live every second because it is based on the mental software that runs your brain.

NLP practitioners have a set of rules known as “NLP presuppositions” that form the foundations for the technology. They are beliefs that govern NLP. The presuppositions give you the foundation to understand how you perceive the world and presents you with the opportunity to change your reality. It is not that the presuppositions have been proven, but rather they give us opportunities and freedom to produce for effective living and better communication.

While few people agree on exact NLP presuppositions, the following presuppositions are ones I frequently stumble upon. They appear to be widely accepted. Though the presuppositions are simple, and hence can appear idealistic, think of how they can be applied to your life to change your reality:

1. The map is not the territory

This could be the most important presupposition to understand. “The map is not the territory” means we are separate from reality. The menu is not the food. The road map is not the city. The map of the world we have in our minds is not the real world.

We short-change ourselves of our full potential when we believe our mental map of the world is the territory we deal with everyday. If you take your assumptions of people’s behaviors, your position in the world, how people perceive you, or anything as reality – when it is merely your mental map painted from abstract understandings – you cheat yourself from what you can become.

Instead of interacting with the world, you interact with your map. How you treat people and yourself is dependent on the map you hold. Your map can be more quickly and easily changed than the world it attempts to describe.

2. Every behavior has its appropriate context

You may get angry in sporadic outbursts because it gives you the space you need from people. You may be a passive person because of its benefits such as the praise you receive from parents. You may be scared of snakes because when you were little a snake-bite hospitalized you for two days.

Unfortunately, the behaviors, phobias, and ways to communicate you learned from experience that served you well then limit your potential now. You let the past dictate your future. Instead of using old ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving that served their purpose in old contexts, you need to adapt new thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are most beneficial for the present moment and aligned with who you want to become.

3. People already have their needed resources

If you take your assumptions of people, yourself, or anything as reality – when it is merely your mental map painted from abstract understandings – you cheat yourself out of what you can become.

This is the weakest of the presuppositions. It is has been reinterpreted and misused from its original intention given by Milton Erikson when he said patients in therapy have the resources to handle their present problems, not all problems.

Unfortunately, and fortunately, you are human. While you may have the resources to solve personal problems, it does not mean you are capable of solving them right now. You need to know the resources you have and how to use them. You need to learn the skills, go through the experiences, discover a book, or whatever it may be, to awaken these resources within you.

You already have the ability to visualize, feel, hear sounds, communicate, and experience other sensations. These innate human abilities are the framework for personal change. In this article, and anything I share with you, I hope to give you the ability to use your resources better to create the reality you want in your everyday awakening life by showing you how to put your frameworks to more effective use.

4. Experience has a structure

Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell create an experience for you. These five senses hold the potential to change your identity and reality. Each habit or skill is birthed from the five senses.

Pleasant-filled and pain-ridden experiences each have a structure that use the five senses. Recurrent painful memories typically are large, bright, and up close. Painless memories of previously painful moments are typically seen in black-and-white, a single frame, and at an objective distance like in a photo – or even possibly combined with humorous music. Knowing the experience you want and understanding the structures that gives the experience, helps you establish an empowering pattern.

5. If one person can do something, anyone can learn to do it

This presupposition is modeling, doing what someone else does. It forms the foundation of NLP where individuals observe successful persons then mimic what makes them successful. Someone who wants similar success to a person they admire are to learn and do what makes the person successful, which leads to their own success. Successful individuals for centuries have modeled successful predecessors.

6. Change what is not working

The old saying, “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” is so true. This presupposition encourages people to stop doing what is ineffective. If you want something new, start doing something new.

It is sick to see parents use unhealthy ways of disciplining their children. Every action by the child gets a consequence placed around it. To the parent’s disbelief, the child continues to push those consequences. The parent thinks it’s the child’s problem, but the parent is too ignorant and stuck in habitual behavior to realize that what he or she does is not working.

7. A positive intention exists beneath every behavior

You might yell to be heard. Fight to establish justice. Smoke to feel relaxation. Retreat to feel comfortable. Remain in bed to avoid the pain that awaits you. These are all positive intentions.

A positive intention does not mean the behavior is correct, healthy, or the best option. Rather, knowing a positive intention or fundamental human need exists behind behaviors and communication enables you to resourcefully act. When you see positive intentions, you are more able to separate the problem from the person and update your map.

8. You cannot not communicate

I have come across many people who think it is possible to not communicate. The idea that you cannot communicate is one of the top communication myths.

You always communicate and will always continue to communicate. Your nonverbal communication illustrates the thoughts and feelings inside of you. While your thoughts remain hidden, a snicker in your smile, a wink in your eye, or a sigh of relief communicates a message without you needing to verbalize a message.

9. The meaning of communication is the elicited response

NLP Truth or Myth?

While some NLP presuppositions are proven to be true like the map is not the territory, not everything in NLP is accepted as truth because mainstream academic psychology has limited studies on the field to validate its claims. NLP makes outrageous promises at times, but most of its theory and techniques are adapted from what works – even if its professed results are yet to be documented by academics.

The field of study is based on how psychotherapy greats Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir, and Milton Erickson communicated with patients. Thousands of NLP practitioners and psychologists worldwide live by NLP for the results they see firsthand.

You just gave a brilliant presentation to a board of directors about a new project. Or so you thought. They rejected your idea. Why? There could be many reasons, but the underlying concept I’m painting here is the message received differs to the message sent.

A person’s response shows you their meaning of your communication. When you understand the difference between sending communication and receiving communication, you open yourself to intimately understand people. You become aware that people need to verify their understanding of your message, which allows you to adjust future communication with them.

This presupposition encapsulates another NLP presupposition: failure does not exist, only feedback exists. Every piece of feedback you receive is treated as an achievement because it takes you one step closer to what you want. If something does not get you the results you want, it only means you need to correct what you are doing. You eventually create the reality you want by having the flexibility to change.

10. The more choices, the better

The better your map, the more choices you give yourself to create your desired reality.

The fewer options an individual has, the unhealthier the person. Individuals limited in behavior feel victimized by circumstances that “give no options”. You may consider yourself to be absent of any psychosomatic illness, but there will be unhealthy areas in your life where you feel limited and powerless.

People stuck in negotiations are limited by their constraining choice(s) because choice correlates to power, influence, and change. The more choices you have personally, socially, and professionally, the more control you have over your reality. The better your map, the more choices you give yourself to create your desired reality.

11. The mind and body are inseparable

It was previously believed the mind and body are separate entities. Today, researchers, medical experts, and philosophers discover evidence each day about the mind and body influencing one another. Your thoughts and emotions affect your body and vice-a-versa.

Do not underestimate the influence your mind has on your body and the influence your body has on your mind. There is endless amounts of research that proves the strength of the two-way communication between the mind and body. Fields of study now heavily integrate the two entities that once seemed separate.

Body psychotherapy deals with the subconscious mind and body. Your experiences show in parts of your body. One particular example is bottled emotions manifest themselves in pains throughout the body. Emotional pains arise in predictable places over the body. A sore left knee signifies a fear to move forward in life.

Last night, I purged my thoughts and emotions, which remained inside of me for years, to my parents. I woke up the following morning with my worst ever headache. 18 hours later as I write this, I still have a headache – something that has never lasted more than 30 minutes for me. Such a long-lasting headache means I still have stuff to work through.

12. Action develops understanding

Regardless of the number of books you read, people you talk to, or universities you attend, you will not understand what you seek to learn until you “do”. It is only when you “do” can you fully comprehend what you intellectualize.

There you have 12 neuro-linguistic programming presuppositions. These presuppositions are given to you as frameworks. They are rules to change your reality. Live by them and soon you will be in a reality that once seemed a dream.

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Joshua Uebergang aka "Tower of Power"

Joshua Uebergang, aka "Tower of Power", teaches social skills to help shy guys build friends and influence people. Visit his blog and sign-up free to get communication techniques, relationship-boosting strategies, and life-building tips by email, along with blog updates, and more! Go now to


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[…] “map”. Our map is our understanding of reality that provide us with a direction in this world. The map is only a construct of reality; it’s not reality itself. Mind-Lines will have you analyze your map, see its many faults, […]


I really love the way you are!!but, sometimes it is easy to speak beautifully however ,practically we can’t do so!I don’t know why I found it hard to
change myself in the way I want or desire after all these informations!


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