From: L. Michael Hall

2017 “Neurons” #17

April 17, 2017

The Matrix Model Series #5







Given the de-emphasis on content in NLP and the focus on structure and process, if I had designed the Matrix Model abstractly or conceptually, I would never have even thought about including the five content matrices within the model.  It would never have occurred to me to do that.  Yet I did.  And I did so because there is one content which is extremely close to how you process information and create meaning.  There is also one content that “you never leave home without.”  You take that content everywhere you go and, in fact, you see the world through that content.


What is that content?  It is the content of your self.  Developmentally, the first thing you invent and the first meanings that you construct involve you as a person— Who am I?  What is my value?  Am I valued?  Am I loveable?  Do I have worth?  What can I do?  Who will be my friend?  Do I count?  As you and I enter the world, these are the first questions we seek to answer.  And fortunately, Developmental Psychology has a lot to say about this as does Phenomenology.  Accordingly, in the Matrix Model we have five aspects of self —aspects that function very much the way any perceptual filter or meta-program functions, we interpret the world through the content of the meanings, intentions, and states that we have created about Self.


For short memorable terms, we have designated The Content Matrices in terms of five key aspects of the self—


  • Self is you as a person, as a living human being, your being— your worth, value, significance, loveability, etc.  In terms of being human, Self is your construct of your self-esteem.
  • Power is you in terms of what you do, your behavior, your skills, competencies, talents, and achievements.  Normally we speak about this as your self-confidence— your trust in yourself that you can do something.  Here also is self-efficacy, your sense of responsibility, taking initiative, and being proactive.
  • Others is you in terms of your relationships, your social self— who you are as you connect, relate, and get along with others.  This is you as a friend, lover, parent, student, teacher, and other key social roles in life.  It shows up as your social panorama.
  • Time is you as a temporal being.  You live in time and time defines your sense of mortality.  Once you construct this aspect of life, you begin to live in the three time zones and to spend thought and energy to each.  As a temporal self you have a relationship to time and define yourself in terms of your age and your stage of life.
  • World is you in all of the roles that you play in the many domains or dimensions of life.  In any domain or world where you spend much time, you also tend to play various roles which define who you are in that area.  Your role self entails your status, position, titles, etc.  And just as others see you in terms of that role, you also define yourself in terms of it.


All of this describes you— you in five dimensions, experiences, or aspects which, in turn, provides a rich description (and definition) of who you are.  Who are you?  To answer, you will talk about these five aspects of your life.   Who you are also determines what you perceive in the world and how you interpret things (the meaning matrix)That’s because as it has often been said— You see the world, not as it is, but through who you are.


To be more specific, you see the world through the lens of your personal sense of worth and value (Self, self-esteem), the more conditional and lower your self-esteem, the more you see the world as threatening and overwhelming.  You see the world through the lens of your personal powers as you wonder about whether you can handle various tasks or roles or challenges.  The weaker your sense of your fundamental powers, the more you see the world as threatening and over-powering.  The less your sense of control over yourself and in owning your powers, the more you feel a victim in the world rather than a victor.


You see the world through the lens of your social self— your social skills, your ability to connect, your sense of being valuable to others, your social emotions, and your competencies to handle a wide range of social experiences from gaining rapport, sharing humor, conversing, negotiating, selling, to supporting, inspiring, etc.  The weaker or less enhancing your social self, the more frightening the social world will seem and the less able to handle the things required to make friends.


You see the world through the lens of your temporal self— your sense of your own beginnings, current experiences, and anticipated experiences.  As a temporal self you can hold in mind events that have happened and use them to define yourself and operate from the states that you once experienced just as you can anticipate future events that will happened and use them to determine what and how you think and feel today.  As a temporal self you can live in the past or in the future.


Finally, you can see the world through the lens of your role self— the roles that you have learned to play, the titles or statuses that you have attained, and you can so identify yourself in terms of those roles that to lose a role could trigger an “identity” crisis.  Your role self may over-lap with some of your social self, or not.  Over-identifying with any role tends to make you as a person less flexible, less able to adjust to new situations, and less authentic since your role tends to become your persona.


You, who you are, and how you understand your person, what you can do, your relationships, your experience with events over time, and the roles that you play in life, operate as a very powerful and determining meaning-making lens.  This is why there are times that you cannot understand something until you change.  This is also why that sometimes when you change, the whole world that you know changes.