International association of HNLP

NLP Principle Training

The Map is not the territory

Alfred Korzybski, founder of general semantics, used this term. Korzybski’s law of individuality states that, "No two persons, situations or stages of processes are the same in detail". That’s because all of our experiences are subjective, which means that it is our life experiences that can make life either incredibly dull or rather invigorating. As Dr.Richard Bandler would say,"Look at life as a rare and unprecedented opportunity to learn". Our beliefs and past experiences have all been generated though our senses: Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic (feelings), Olfactory (smell), Gustatory (taste) and these experiences have created our unique map of the world; from this map is where we gather all our information. What happens if that information is out-of-date or the information that is required by the ‘printer’ to print a particular map has certain parts missing? We could then miss many chances to gain access to new streets or avenues, all because we were not aware that they were there.

A map can never be the real thing, or completely accurate, as we have many maps and there is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ map - it all depends on how useful they are. All of us have different maps of how we express ourselves in the outside and inside world, and we use the map that is the most useful to us at the time. We use these maps because they are real to us, but they are still maps, and you will find some maps that are better than others for finding your way around. Maps can always be changed. Language is a map and, as you know, if you wish you can learn a new language, giving you a new perception of the world. According to the dictionary, reality is “the world or the state of things as they actually exist”. This sounds, looks and feels a bit ambiguous and subjective to me! So what is the territory? A reality that is even more real than the map.


Cliff Partridge
HNLP Trainer
NLP Master Practitioner