Monday, 24 March 2014


We live our lives in language.  At a most fundamental level, we are
linguistic beings.  We inevitably create mental maps using our native
language and whatever additional languages that we have learned.  We cannot
do otherwise.  And if we don't, we don't become human.  Is that shocking?
It ought to be.  And if you ask for the evidence, you have to go no further
than the phenomenon of "feral children."

There used to be feral children-the children who in some way got lost from
home, from mother and father, and left in the wild, they were "adopted" and
raised by animals- dogs, wolves, etc.  Once upon a time feral children were
not that uncommon, but fortunately the last ones reported were in the
nineteenth century.  What we discovered about such children is that if they
missed the imprint period of language, that period in which a child enters
into the semantic world that's navigated by symbols- later when the child
was discovered and brought into society, it was never able to enter into,
and live in, the symbolic world of human culture and language.  The feral
child would not wear clothes, eat without utilizes (gobble food like an
animal), would be unable to talk and use language, etc.  He or she would
never really enter into the human condition.

We are so inevitably linguistic in nature that without language we cannot be
human.  If all we could do would be to create visual images, auditory
sounds, kinesthetic sensations, olfactory smells, and gustatory tastes and
we could not name any of these or relate one to a conceptual idea of
meaning, our consciousness would be extremely limited.  In NLP we call these
sensory experiences our representational systems, our VAK languages of mind.
These enable us to detect and work with the movies that we play in our

In NLP we call the domain of language-the meta-representational system.  And
while there's lots of problems with it, it is this system by which we can
use develop our meta-consciousness (consciousness-of-consciousness).  It is
the language system that allows us to detect our thinking, adjust it, refine
it, and improve it.  It is our self-reflexive consciousness that takes
fullest use of this higher and more abstract thinking and that enables us,
as humans, to create science and art so we can keep improving upon our
knowledge over the ages (e.g., time-binding).

Yet language itself is a challenge and a problem.  That's mostly because our
languages are not very precise.  Both the structure of our language and
hundreds, if not thousands, of words are very poor "maps" for using to
navigate the sea of experience.  And no wonder.  Our words and language and
ideas have developed over thousands of years and grew up from more primitive
times.  And growing up during more primitive times, we still have many
primitive pre-scientific, unscientific, and erroneous ideas incorporated in
our language.

For these reasons (and others), one of the tasks before all of us, if we are
to live a sanely and effectively, is to clean up our language.  With so much
contamination in our words, our sentences, our ideas, our philosophies, and
our assumptions- when we use words without consciousness of what we are
saying, the premises we are operating from, what we are presupposing without
evidence, etc., we thereby contaminate our responses, our relationships, our
emotions, and more.

Another factor enters into this consideration.  We are not only linguistic
beings, we are neuro-linguistic beings.  What does that mean?  First, it
means that the very creation and generation of our words and language arise
in our neurology from how we use our neurology.  Korzybski described this in
terms of how our nervous systems abstract from the world "out there," the
energy-manifestations that impact our sense-receptors, and then transform
those impacts along the neuro-pathways of our body and sent then to the
various sensory cortexes where that information is processed.  The NLP
founders described this as how our nervous systems model the see-hear-feel
world of experiences that we encounter by deleting, generalizing, and
distorting that information.  This enables each of us to create an unique
mental model or map of the world and use it in our responses.

[Read more about that in Korzybski's classic book, Science and Sanity (1933,
1994) and Bandler and Grinder's The Structure of Magic (1975, 1976).]

As neuro-linguistic beings, using language enables us to send signals to our
body and our body (neurology, physiology) responds to that information.
When those signals are coded as "beliefs" then the signals operate as
"commands" to our nervous systems which they then seek to "actualize" (make
real).  In Neuro-Semantics we highlight this structure and use it to guide
the thought-signals and the belief-commands we want to be commissioning our
body to feel and actualize.  That's because we know that "as we believe, so
we are" and "so be it unto you."  In this way beliefs become self-fulfilling
prophecies (or self-organizing attractors).

Is it any wonder then that we need to clean up our language?  Do you know
what you are doing to yourself with your language?  Would you like to?  In
this and the next articles, I'll be addressing some of the ways that you can
clean up your language and give reasons for how it will improve the quality
of your life.  There are so many ways in which language can misdirect you
and send you off in unproductive directions.  Yet the amazing thing is that
you can use such language and never suspect this.  You can use the most
dis-empowering language and not even realize it.  That's why Meta-Coaches
learn to listen for that kind of language and then invite awareness, "Do you
hear what you just said?  Do you really hear what's implied in what you just
said?"  That's step on for cleaning up your language.  More are to come.

L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.

                Neuro-Semantics Executive Director

                Neuro-Semantics International

P.O. Box 8

Clifton, CO. 81520 USA                            

                1 970-523-7877

                Dr. Hall's email: