Would you like to eliminate blocks laying hidden in your mindset that you have no idea are holding you back from achieving your dream life?
Good. Let’s discover exactly how to do that.
Read this sentence:
And answer me this question:
What do we know for sure about this sentence?
Well, we know there’s some kind of relationship between Mary and Bill. We know they have reasons to say good morning to each other. The odds are, they’re being friendly with each other. We don’t know how friendly, but we do know they’re acknowledging each other as they’re starting their day. Or at least, saying good morning.
We know they’re in the same location. Close enough to hear each other. We also know one or both of them is not mute. They have the ability to say good morning. They also probably speak the same language.
And seeing that the sentence is in the past tense, this is not happening right now. It already happened.
There are more, but I’ll stop there.
Now let’s look for something else:
Let’s look for things that imply existence in that sentence. In other words, what’s hidden — or assumed, or presupposed — in the sentence about Bill and Mary above?
When you first read that sentence, you probably didn’t question whether Bill and Mary already knew each other. You didn’t question whether or not they worked together. You probably assumed they did.
You also didn’t question whether they were sitting down on chairs. Chairs were never mentioned. Your brain totally put those in. You probably took all those things — and many more — for granted.
Now let’s take chairs, for example:
Notice how presupposed, and how deeply-embedded chairs are in that sentence. You assumed they were sitting on chairs, when I never said there were any chairs in the room. They could have been sitting on a bench. Or an ergonomic stool of some sort. Or maybe they work at one of those “hip” companies that lets them sit on an exercise yoga ball.
But the reality is — for most of us, chairs were deeply embedded in that sentence even though they’re never mentioned. They were so automatically assumed, we never thought twice about whether to include them in our mental image.
You might now be saying:
If someone were telling us that sentence about Bill and Mary… we know there would be a lot in that sentence the person knew, but was sort of outside of their awareness because they weren’t directly mentioning it.
Chairs being one of those things.
In the same way, we ALL presuppose hidden beliefs about the things we say to ourselves and others all the time. And we accept the hidden presupposed beliefs and attitudes other people tell us — that fly right under the radar. We never even evaluate them because they’re so hidden.
Sometimes the presupposed beliefs are harmless. And sometimes, they’re devastating to our progress and success. But we can’t always get to them. They exist at the level that the chairs exist in the sentence above about Bill and Mary.
But when you understand and can look for this in everyday language — it’s incredibly powerful. You can see into the minds of others. And you can identify your own hidden beliefs, too.
This is part of what’s called the Meta Model in Neuro-Linguistic Programming. It’s a model of how people think and how they come to conclusions. It turns out our minds distort, generalize, and delete most of the information we come across. In fact, we do that more than we actually keep information straight.
No one is immune from doing this. It’s one of the ways we save energy.
But this process can also screw up our understanding of how to achieve our goals. And it can hamper us from success for years. It can harm our self-image, and it can make us believe we are weak, when we are actually strong.
Luckily, we can all learn to evaluate our own thoughts — and check for these things every now and then.
For example — have you ever been guilty of…
Mind reading is when you claim to know the feelings or thoughts inside someone else’s head when you actually don’t. Simply put, we attribute intention to other people's behavior (or absence of behavior) when we have no proof that intention is there.
Mind reading causes a great deal of interpersonal strife. And it’s arguably the easiest of all of these to overcome.
“I know you don’t want to come tomorrow.”
“The boss doesn’t think I’m management material.”
“I can tell you are happy to be reading this.”
“She’s just not that into you.”
So how do you cure mind-reading?
Any time you catch yourself (or someone else) mind-reading another person, ask one simple question to eliminate it:
How Do You Know?
The mind-read statement, you’ll find, is usually built on nothing but hot air.
“The boss doesn’t think I am management material.”
How do you know?
“She doesn’t invite me to lunch.”
So she HAS to invite you to lunch to see you as management material? There’s no other way?
“Well, it’s a good INDICATOR that she would see me as management material…”
And that’s when you can begin to break down the belief, and see how silly it is.
It went from:
“She absolutely doesn’t see me as management material”,
“She didn’t overtly show me what I consider to be a good indicator that she sees me as management material.”
And that’s progress. You could even probe further — and ask:
Is lunch the only indicator, EVER, in the history of humanity, to show someone that you believe they’re management material? Do you think what YOU consider to be a good indicator is always going to be the same as what everyone else considers to be a good indicator?
And so on.
Now let’s talk about another way our brains screw up information. It’s called a…
A Lost Performative is when people make a value judgement, but the source of the judgement is absent, or lost.
See — often beliefs and opinions pass down from person to person. Eventually, they get to the point where the belief or opinion is no longer relevant to the person offering it or appropriate to the situation at all. So a Lost Performative is when someone is talking about a personal belief, but presents it as though it were a universal truth. Then other people can accept it as true without questioning it. Which is bad.
With Lost Performatives, you’re going to hear them stated in absolutes — using words like: Everything, nothing, always, never, all, every, only, and just.
“Nothing works like it should.”
“This business can’t perform like it used to.”
“XYZ is the political party we vote for in this family”
“You ALWAYS do this!”
“He just can’t understand math.”
“It’s just not worth it.”
These statements all have one thing in common:
They act like there’s something “performing” — like there’s a valid source for the information — when there actually is none. The second we hear judgments in the form of Lost Performatives coming from others, people tend to have a knee-jerk reaction that makes them want to challenge it directly.
That Will KILL Everything.
When you challenge someone else’s Lost Performative with “How do you know?” Or “According to whom?” they’ll put up all kinds of defense — and nothing will get accomplished. Instead, you want to guide people from one line of reasoning to another line of reasoning without telling them they’re wrong.
You do this by first showing them that their sentiment is valid, or agreeing. Then you question their statement’s validity as if you WANT to agree with them, but have a genuine concern.
You then want to search for the source of their statement WITH them, instead of flat-out telling them that they have none.
“Oh interesting, you know — I’m wondering … what was it that specifically told you he can’t understand math?”
Or when you hear:
“Nothing works like it should.”
“You’re telling me! But I just hope that doesn’t apply to everyone. I sure know at least some things work for ME…”
When you catch a Lost Performative in your OWN language?
That’s Extremely Rare.
It’s very rare to catch yourself using a Lost Performative.
By their nature, we usually arrive at them through emotional frustration. Then mistakenly pretend that is a valid source for our statement. But you can train yourself to identify — and eliminate — lost performatives from your own vocabulary if you wish to commit to it.
And it’s an incredibly useful thing to do. Because when you can catch your own lost performatives, it tunes up your thinking. It makes you far more accurate in your words and actions. It can help your self-esteem, relationships, and success go through the roof. Simply because you’re acting in alignment with more reality and less delusion.
Even if you plan to sit alone in a room all day today, I guarantee that just in your thought patterns you will encounter at least 3 obvious “hidden” assumptions.
In fact, they’re in practically every sentence we all speak.
There are many more categories of them than just Mind Reading and Lost Performatives. But this should get you started.
I challenge you to recognize them more often. Because they’re all around you. And when you can spot them with ease—you will become smarter, wiser, and far more powerful in the world.