Words, And What They Sometimes Mean

Found another short bit from Steve Andreas that gets to one of the important distinctions about words and language. The point he makes is global and often overlooked.

Words – Steve Andreas

It was at a party in California in the mind-1970’s. Our friend Mike had arrived quite hungry, and there was a big plate of chocolate brownies on the dining room table, so he helped himself, repeatedly. After he had eaten about nine squares, the host announced that they were marijuana brownies, and that one square would probably be enough for an adequately altered evening.

Late that evening Mike was pretty far gone, especially after some time in the hot tub. As we were putting on our clothes after getting out of the hot tub, we heard Mike saying slowly out loud, “Now I’m putting on my left sock….Now I’m putting on my left shoe….”

I laughed, and said, “Mike, we don’t need a report of your activities.” He replied slowly, “I know you don’t, but I do!”

Even in normal states of alertness, words help us keep track of experiences by labeling them and categorizing them. We can then use these labels like a filing system, to “call up” a particular kind of experience when it’s useful to us. The words on a menu bring to mind the taste and texture of the food described, to help us make a decision about what we want to order. The words are not the food; they only point to the food. This seems like a simple and obvious fact — very few people try to eat the menu — yet many people get so embroiled in the words that they never get to the food.

A word is like handle on a suitcase; the name helps us carry a package of experiences. However, as soon as we have a name for something, there is a strong tendency to stop looking at what the name points to.

Sometimes we happily carry around the suitcase without ever opening it to see what’s inside. As Warren McCulloch, a pioneering neurophysiologist, used to say to his listeners, “Don’t bite my finger; look were I am pointing.”

“Human contact is not about words. Human contact is about eye connection, about voice, about skin, about breathing. Words are something you can read in a book, you can see on a billboard, and they can be totally differentiated from human beings. Words help when people are congruent. — Virginia Satir.

And… Remember…

During 30 years of writing researching and teaching NLP Steve Andreas collected a series of stories and metaphors. Some he wrote himself, others came from sources all over the world, poets and authors, therapists and mystics.

He used them as examples of different patterns, of the power of metaphor, and sometimes just for an entertaining distraction for the conscious mind. A few years ago he gathered the entire collection between two covers titled “Is There Life Before Death?”

If you’d like your own collection of these “Steve stories” I have some hard cover copies of “Is There Life Before Death?” that I bought at a really great price. They were pushed to a back corner of the warehouse and I completely forgot about them until we started packing for the trainings.

Due to an odd packaging they were packed in twos and I got a really great “remainder” type price on them, which I’m sharing with you. Originally $19.95 in hardcover, you get two copies for just $9.95 plus postage. That’s like 75% off.

(What to do with the extra copy? Surely you know at least one person who likes stories. Even my Mom would like these 🙂

Click Here to find out more and get yours: “Is There Life Before Death?”

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