“We see things not as they are, but as we are.” — Henry Major Tomlinson
With this simple quote, we understand that we use our senses through our own filters (including our education, culture, experiences, opinions, interests), hiding some of the information we received or, on the contrary, amplifying sensations to serve a purpose, whether it is conscious or not. The way we perceive the world says all about who we are.
So, how can we become more objective when when we rely on our senses, and not fall into the traps set by our mind? Sharpening our consists primarily in identifying how we collect information. This process can be done using Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), understanding first the sensations we are processing and how they influence our decisions.
1 | Understand how we experience the world
Particularly in NLP, we consider that we experience the world through our senses. Our sensory organs are in charge of informing us about our environment and activating responses (for example: too much light comes into my eyes, I close them). We call representational systems the way we capture, select, encode, and recreate information in our minds. We speak of 5 representational systems, under the VAKOG acronym: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Olfactory and Gustatory. Our visual system translates information into images, the auditory system into sounds, the kinesthetic into sensations (such as textures, temperatures, pain or pleasure). The olfactory system translates information into smells and the gustatory into flavors. In general, we tend to rely much more on the VAK systems — visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.
Identifying your preferred representational system can be done very easily: observe what type of words you mainly use to communicate and identify what elements come to your mind first.
For example: When describing a concert you went to, do you use more words related to images, sounds or sensations? What was your first focus during the concert? Was it the lights, the sound quality or the heat?
What can also help a lot in this search, is to practice mindfulness. It will help you become more aware of your feelings and what they convey.
2 | Expand your sensory map
Once you are clear on which representational system you prefer to rely on, the idea is to work on your sensory flexibility in order to be able to expand your map — or better said. your perspective on the world. This allows to develop a greater understanding of others, a more effective communication and to be able to appreciate more aspects of one same thing.
We identified 3 possible ways to get more impressions: mindfulness, creativity and powerful conversations.
Already briefly introduced as a resource to identify our senses and emotions, mindfulness consists in consciously connecting our body and our mind, observing and feeling what is happening right now. It is a form of meditation entirely focused on our senses. In order to expand our sensory map, it is recommended to concentrate on senses that were a little forgotten and that you do not usually use extensively. For example, if you are a more visual person, we advise to practice mindfulness exercises geared towards your auditory or kinesthetic senses. It is important to observe what sensations are produced when reconnecting with these senses and memorizing the emotions generated to be able to access them again in the future.
Not only will you increase your well-being, but it will also enrich your experiences, allowing you to appreciate many more dimensions to them and thus, to build stronger memories.
Exercising creativity is a tremendous resource for expanding your sensory map. It is often commented that our brain is divided into two hemispheres, the left part that would be logical and rational, and the right part that would be emotional and creative. There are several debates about whether this is true or whether creativity is not located in one hemisphere, but connects both, but the point is that we all have a creative capacity, whether we have fully explored it or not.
How does creativity work? In addition to getting inspiration from the book Creativity Rulesby Tina Seelig, a Stanford professor and neuroscientist, here are some tips:
– Experience new things, such as sports, recipes, different styles of music, learning a new language or changing your itinerary to go to the supermarket. Creativity lies in simple things and does not require much financial investment. You just need to take initiative and be conscious of what you do differently.
– Get nurtured by others, whether it is by reading, watching movies, listening to opera, visiting museums and admiring works of art — being able to witness how others see the world is a true gift, and on top of having a wonderful time, you will also be consciously absorbing new perspectives, realities and worldviews ( if you practice mindfulness, obviously 😊).
– Express your own point of view through writing, photography, music, painting or even simply with the clothes you wear or the decoration of your home. Being aware of your messages to the world allows you to make them stronger and more impactful.
Never forget that creativity is a great privilege that only humans have. It is an incredible tool to experience things intensely and make some sense out of the irrational.
Last but not least, one of the most efficient ways to expand your map is to have powerful conversations. We call powerful conversations the ones that allow you to awaken and unleash strong emotions, realize something you have never considered before, or simply make you ask yourself key questions to make a better decision.
It is recommended to resort to a professional to guide you through a process, such as a psychologist, a coach or an NLP expert. These professionals have been trained to accompany you with empathy and master numerous techniques to maximize this process.
One of these is called Points of You®.
It is an innovative and experiential methodology, based on the principles of therapeutic photography. It Is designed to empower the development of individuals, teams, and organizations. Leaning on some powerful images and words, a parallel work of our left cerebral hemisphere (logical and rational) and our right cerebral hemisphere (creative and intuitive) is generated. This connection and fusion allow us to use our “full brain” capacity, so that holistically we are opening a world of infinite opportunities and possibilities. From a neuroscientific point of view, this methodology is very effective in opening up the mind and developing emotional intelligence.
Using this type of tools allows to uncover deep topics, and ultimately have a greater awareness of who we are, what we want and how we see the world.
Our senses are key to understand our environment and navigate the world. We can never be completely objective, but the truth will always be closer if we amplify our perspectives and make our representational systems more flexible.
Although sharpening our senses requires regular and conscious practice, we promise that you will live deep sensory experiences, and develop a stronger sense of wholeness that comes from fully connecting your mind and body.