From: L. Michael Hall
2017 “Neurons” #13
March 20, 2017
The Matrix Model Series #1
The night when first of the three movies in the series, The Matrix, was released in 1999 in New York City, I received a dozen emails. Without exception, each person who wrote to me, and most were from New York City, wanted to know what influence I had on the movie. Sadly, the answer is none. Two of the persons who emailed me thought I was being coy or something, and kept asking, “Come on, you can tell me, I will keep it secret.” But the truth is that I had no influence whatsoever on the movie and all I could say was, “I wish!”
Of course, you might wonder, “Why would anyone think that in the first place?” The reason is that for two years I had been running a training called “Frame Games” and earlier that year had published the book, Frame Games (1999). Later I retitled that book, Winning the Inner Game (2007). What I did in that book, and in the training, was to highlight the basic NLP idea that “we do not operate on the world directly, but through our mental maps about the world.” This idea originated from Alfred Korzybski in his classic work, Science and Sanity (1933) which established the neurological basis for this idea.
If we do not deal with “the world” (the territory) directly, but through a simulation (a map), then we do not know what is really“out there,” we only know it through “the transforms” created by our nervous systems and sense-receptors like our eyes that translate the electro-magnetic energy vibrations into what we experience as sight, sound, sensation, smells, etc. As a model of Cognitive Psychology, NLP provides a user-friendly way to use this for communicating, relating, developing, managing, leading, etc. How? By treating all of our mental maps as a human construct which is only as good as it has some correspondence with the territory and can be used to move around in and navigate the territory.
If your thoughts-and-emotions and how you “sense” things, and “make sense” of things is a human construct, then it is not ultimately “real,” but a simulation and is valid and useful to the extent that it enables you to function effectively. The test of any human map about things then is its usefulness, not its truthfulness.
What does any of this have to do with the movie, The Matrix? What does any of this have to do with The Matrix Model that we use in Neuro-Semantics to think and work systemically? Everything. To explain, let’s define the word “matrix.” It literally means “womb.” And A womb is a place where something is given birth. If you use X and Y axes, you can give birth to any one of a thousand concepts. If X stands for time and Y stands for distance, you can now give birth to the concept of miles-per-hour or kilometers-per-hour. Add Z axes and you can create a three-dimensional space that can give birth to even more complex concepts and define relationships between the variables that you use to understand something.
The Matrix movie used the “womb” idea for where the humans were born. In the world after the war between the Machines and the Humans, because the Machines won that war (don’t you hate that!), they now “grew” humans in egg-like shells and pumped information into their spinal chord and nervous system so that they would give off lots of energy to run the Machine World. In this way, “the Matrix” was the false world of 1999 that was “pulled down over the eyes of the humans to deceive them from the truth.” The truth? They were slaves living in a pseudo-world and they needed to “wake up” to discover this reality. Thus enter Morpheus as the coach facilitator who invites Neo to take the red pill and wake up.
The Matrix Model, while it was developed entirely apart from the movie, describes the human constructions that we invent in our mind about the world as the place where we give birth to (“womb”) our “sense of reality.” Our constructions map out how we perceive the world and it is comprised of our “sensory-based” sights, sounds, sensations, etc. as well as our made-up “sense,” how we “make sense” of things with words and language. And, as with the movie, we also were born in a Matrix. We call it family, culture, society, meanings, language, etc. Our humanity is given birth because information was pumped into us via experience, language, culture, school, religion, government, etc. And as with the movie, we also need to wake up!
In 1997, I began saying in an off-handed way, “I never leave home without my meanings, I take them everywhere I go.” At some point, I made the same comment about my states, “I never leave home without my states.” And later I used the same format to describe my self. When asked, “How many things do you not leave home without?” I said to Bob, “Seven things.” He wanted to know what and because I was just fooling around and playing rather than being serious, I said, “Wouldn’t you like to know!” That gave birth to the idea of “the seven matrices in the Matrix Model” in 2002. Actually, it turned out to be eight sub-matrices. But I put “Seven” on the title of the first book on the Matrix Model. When asked why, I said, “Obviously, because seven is a sexier number than eight.” More humor that some didn’t enjoy. 🙂
Where did the eight sub-matrices come from? Several sources. NLP, Developmental Psychology, Systems, and Phenomenology. From NLP came the three process matrices: State, Meaning, and Intention. From Developmental Psychology came the five content matrices: Self, Power, Others, Time, and World. From Phenomenology came Meaning, Intention, Self, Others, and Time. And from Systems came the relationships between all of these variables.
The process matrices summarize what General Semantics and NLP offer. Inside of State, Meaning, and Intention is the Meta-Model, Strategies, “Sub-Modalities” (Meta-Modalities or cinematic features), the Meta-Programs, and Meta-States. These three processes create our mental construct of reality— our mental maps by which we perceive, experience, emote, and make sense of things. Change these and your world changes.
The content matrices summarize Phenomenology and Developmental Psychology and represents the part of the Matrix Model that I would not have consciously designed given the premise of NLP that content is far less important than process. Yet in this instance, content does count. And the content that mostly counts is the content that makes up your maps about your Self. That gives us the five content matrices about Self — Your self-esteem (value of self), your self-confidence (abilities and skills in what you can do), your social self (who you are in relationship to others, your moral and ethical self in how you treat others), your temporal self (your experience of yourself in time, sense of mortality), and your roles (you as you play various roles in various domains of life, status, image, etc.).
With all of that, The Matrix Model of Neuro-Semantics has three axes: Meaning (state, intention and meaning), Performance (state, power, others, time, world), and Self (self, power, others, time, and world).
Summary of the Matrix Model
The Process Matrices:
The Content Matrices
The Grounding Matrix