We all live in multiple worlds. There is the one shared world of everyday experience, where we bump into trees and get a lump on our heads. There is also the worlds we create in our heads, our own personal map of that shared world. To capture the entire experiential would overwhelm us, so we only capture those parts that we are interested in. We construct our personal worlds, or maps, based on our values, priorites, and expectations. This serves us well by reducing the ‘noise’ of the the full ‘real’ experiential world.
Then, since we all want to make things better in some way, we manipulate our private worlds, and refine them, and generate hypothesis, and test them, all with the single goal of making things better, in some way, for our selves and others, those we care about.
To understand others, who have created different maps of our common experiential world, we need to understand that they, like us, act based on their maps, not on the experiential territory.
This distinction, first made by Alfred Korzybski in 1933, is so fundamental to many of my ideas that I want to remove it from long fancy, technical words and make it very real for us ordinary folk. Since we have different individual preferences, here are 3 examples.
To make this clear, visually, here is a picture of a local airport both as the world is,
(Google Satellite photograph) and as we see it (Google Map View):
Clearly there is a difference, and when we think about things we must be clear about which world we are talking about. Confusing one with the other has caused countless mis-understandings.The really important rule is that:
We, and others, ACT based on our private maps of the world, NOT on the shared territory!
Audio example: The difference between a bird singing, and a recording of that bird singing.
Kinesthetic example: The difference between flying an airplane, and reading about how to fly a plane.