From: L. Michael Hall

2017 “Neurons” #15

April 3, 2017

The Matrix Model Series #3






Within the systems model known as The Matrix Model, the grounding sub-matrix is the state matrix (the subject of Neurons #14).  If you ask, “Where does state come from?” the answer takes us to the most important of all of the sub-matrices, the meaning matrix.  It is here that you and I create meaning.  We create it— that is, invent it, construct it, call it into being— because apart from our brain and nervous systems (our neurology), meaning does not exist.


Strange as this seems, this fact is the dominating fact in human experience and one of the most shocking facts when people first heart it.  In fact, many people who tend to do concrete thinking will not, and perhaps even cannot, believe this.  They think there is such a thing as meaning.  They have lived in a world where people treat meaning as real and solid and factual, and so it seems stunningly ridiculous when they first hear a Neuro-Semanticist say, “There is no such thing as meaning.”  At first they cannot believe their ears.  “Of course, there is.”  “How can there be no meaning?  That’s stupid.  I know what things mean!”


Yet meaning does not exist outside of, or apart from, the human meaning-making capacity.  It does not exist externally as a self-contained thing or entity.  That’s why you’ve never walked down a sidewalk and stepped into a puddle of meaning.  You have never opened the refrigerator to find some left-over meanings.  Meaning is not that kind of thing.  In fact, it is not a thingat all.  It is a process of the mind— how you and I look at something.  It is the interpretation that we give to things, events, people, experiences, etc.


How do we do that?  Ah, now there’s a mystery if there ever was one!  We don’t know.  Read the 830 pages of Science and Sanity and let Alfred Korzybski share his knowledge about how you and I encounter the energy-manifestations of the world and then “abstract” from that to create what we call our “senses” (sights, sounds, sensations, smells, tastes, etc.) of what exists “out there.”  Even the latest updates from the Neuro-Sciences does not explain how we construct our “sense of meaning” from the world.  Korzybski used the map–territory metaphor to describe it.  The co-founders of NLP used the word simulation— that we construct a simulation in our mind.  And phenomenologically, it does seem that we have in our “mind” (another mystery upon this mystery) a central processing place, a movie screen where we entertain pictures, sounds, sensations, smells, tastes, etc.


Yet we do not.  It seems that way, but it is not that way.  Yet we use it and that is how we have consciousness of things.  It isas if we have a mental map or model in our minds that we use to navigate the events, objects, and happenings out there in the world.  So, without solving these mysteries, we begin working with the constructs that we invent.  These are our meaningssimply because this is what we “hold in mind” (the literal definition of meaning) and from these meanings we move through the world of things, objects, people, and activities.  Generally speaking, when we have a mental map that enables us to navigate work, relationships, wealth creation, leadership, friendship, and a thousand other objectives—if it works, gets us our outcomes—then we keep using it.  It it doesn’t, then we use the feedback of what did not work to keep updating our mental models until we construct one that works, at least for the present time.


In Neuro-Semantics, the Meaning matrix is central because by it we create all of the other sub-matrices within the Matrix.  This is also the realm of NLP.  Here we use the NLP Communication model to understand the first ways we construct meaning— via pictures, sounds, sensations, words, etc. to construct representational meaning. Here also we use the Meta-Model of Language to understand linguistic meaning.  We use the Meta-States model for understanding all of the meta-levels of meaning (beliefs, values, understandings, identity, permission, etc.) and we use the Meta-Programs model for understanding perceptual meaning.


A short and easy way to begin exploring meaning is to ask the four construct questions.  These enable us to figure out various aspects of meaning that someone presents to us (See Neurons #9).

What is it?                          Reference that you are selecting, linguistic meaning, name, identity.

How does it work?            Causation meaning, what causes what?  How does it function?

What is its significance?   Evaluative meaning, what value does it provide?

What is your intention?                 Intentional meaning, what is your purpose, agenda, or motive?


There are many, many more construct questions that you can ask, but these are fundamental as they show the beginning of a person’s construct of meaning.  That nothing inherently means anything, things can have dozens upon dozens of meanings.  And they do.  Open any dictionary and one of the amazing things about it is that the smaller and simpler the word, the more meanings it has accumulated over the years.  There’s a reason for that, words do not mean, people mean.  A word, as a symbol, is just that— a written set of letters or symbols or some sounds said in the air— it is the person writing or speaking the words that has some meaning to convey.  The person uses the symbol to try to convey his or her meaning.


Given that, now you can more fully appreciate the NLP Communication Guideline: “The meaning of your communication is not what you intend, it is the response you get.”  In other words, the meaning that the person hearing your words gives to the words.  That’s what your words mean to that person.  If you keep using the same words, you will create the same mis-communication.  If you want to get your meaning and understanding over to the other, use some different words.


Meaning, while seemingly simple, is actually a complex process.  That’s why there’s a whole discipline of training required to effectively communicate meaning, construct life-changing meanings for your life, reframe unresourceful meanings, etc.  That’s why the ability of a Meta-Coach or Trainer or Neuro-Semanticist to detect meaning and facilitate updating meanings is a special skill that requires study and practice.  That’s why we use the Matrix Model for all of this.



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