Thinking is Communication … Communication is Thinking
I was speaking with a client this morning and it came up again …
THINKING IS COMMUNICATION … COMMUNICATION IS THINKING
It’s an idea that’s plagued me for half a decade now. It’s remarkable how clearly this makes sense to me today … how obvious it is to me.
Every once in a while I like to revisit the essence of what I do and why I do it, with and for my clients … i.e.: what value I bring to the work I do and am paid for with and by clients.
Here’s my latest update on that consideration, as of this Sunday afternoon, as I sit contemplating it here on 21 August 2022.
Introduction and History:
But let’s go back thirty years or so when I was first coming into the world of NLP, and it was introduced to be as a human communication technology. At that time the idea was that NLP was a way of considering communication and its implications in human interaction. Alongside the idea or interpersonal communication, it was also presented to me that NLP was an intrapersonal human communication technology too.
In the world of NLP the way we process language (the “Linguistic” part of NLP, “Neurolinguistic Programming”) was the critical consideration, especially the nature of syntactical processing, or the sequencing of the internal representations we use to think. In NLP terms this is the V-A-K-O/G representational systems comprised of V-visual, A-auditory, K-kinesthetic, O-olfactory, and G-gustatory, also know as a 4-tuple, where O & G collapse into an overlaid, singular representational form.
Beyond the primacy of the representational systems processing, NLP also looks at linguistic processing, the nature of how language creates representations and meaning. So there are models within the NLP model that address how we process language, like the Meta-Model which looks at the processes of Generalizing, Distorting and Deleting information in linguistic representations, or Meta-Programs which look at how we preference and evaluate language on a continuum of opposites to make sense of and create meaning from linguistic representations.
Then I think forward from that early indoctrination in the NLP model to my years of studying with Roye Fraser, including his training me in the model of work he developed, the Generative Imprint model. The Generative Imprint model is a meta-application of the NLP model that uses a unique positive orientation based in the excitatory bias, using a wholeform structure of perception and communication.
As I think about the years of apprenticing with Roye what stands out most is his use of hypnotic language to create wholeform interactions. Roye’s use of language was exquisite and aimed at what he referred to as the “symbolic, iconic representation” of the Generative Imprint, or a way a person knew themselves to be whole and complete, where they experienced a pervasive sense of wellbeing. This was his forte, and his raison d’etre too.
In the early years of working with Roye I came up with my own application of the Generative Imprint model I called the Mythogenic Self Process (the “myth-making” self process), which I later modified and shortened to the MythoSelf Process. The naming of the MythoSelf Process for my model has remained consistent now for almost 25 years, although the model has been through many revisions and refinements.
It took many years for me to clarify the essence of these models, NLP, the Generative Imprint model and my own MythoSelf Process model. As I was doing this I continued to explore and study other models as well, some philosophic, some psychologic, some an overlay like phenomenology and phenomenography, some others like linguistic and mathematical models, and a deep dive into brain-, neuro- and cognitive- sciences..
However, only after I seriously dove into the exploration and study of cybernetic systems in modeling human cognition and communication was it that all the pieces began to come together. This was the beginning of a profound understanding of the structure of wholeform thinking and communication I had mastered, under Roye’s tutelage and with his intense mentoring.
The Development of SSCT | Sensory-Systems Control Theory
Once I got that deep cybernetic patterns of human perception and cognition I could clearly see the connections between sensorial awareness and symbolic representation that form the basis of what we refer to as thought, and from thought, mind.
It became obvious to me that we transform our direct sensory experiences into symbols of representation so rapidly that there is no temporal gap for all intents and purposes between the two, i.e.: sensations instantaneously are translated into symbols in our conscious cognitive experience. This process is so instantaneous and absolute that reality as we know it is comprised of the symbolic representations we derive from sensory experience, and not based on the actual sensory experience itself.
This led me to develop the theory of human cybernetic cognition that progresses from sensory experience to perception, from perception to sense-making, from sense-making to meaning-making, from meaning-making to decision-making, and from decision-making to action-taking (behavioral response). I refer to this sequential process as the “Ladder of Perception.”
Most of the Ladder of Perception occurs outside of conscious awareness in the feed-forward system from sensation to response. With training the cognitive processing from perception to decision-making can be made conscious in hindsight, looking back from action-taking/response through each of the preceding steps of the Ladder of Perception model.
With advanced training and diligent practice the processing of the steps of the Ladder of Perception can become available consciously as they are happening, and with further advanced training before they happen in the cognitive sequence. When the process that will happen in the cognitive sequence can be considered before it has occurred and created a feed-forward effect in the system adumbration of the unfolding situation becomes possible.
When you can adumbrate the situation you are experiencing, what will most likely happen based on what has happened and is happening is revealed and can be acted upon before it happens as it will if the system is allowed to continue unfolding on the path it is currently taking.
Adumbrating gives you the opening and opportunity to intervene in a system before the event you want to alter has occurred, reshaping the context and framework to allow a different and most desirable outcome to become possible than is possible in the way the current context and framework are organized and being held.
The SSCT | Sensory-System Control Theory is a model that suggests that behavior is shaped at the level of sensation, and by changing the nature of perception behavior can be shaped and will follow. When we can and do choose what and how we are perceiving in the contexts we engage in we can shape the behaviors we need to express that will create the outcomes we desire. Obversely we cannot shape behavior by trying to change our behavior directly, since all behavior is an outgrowth of perception, and if the perceptions remain unchanged our behaviors will always revert to those in alignment with our perceptions.
Sensorial Awareness as Symbolic Representation
Ultimately we want to be able to choose the outcomes we create by our behaviors, because while we cannot necessarily control the contexts we find ourselves in, we do have control over what and how we are perceiving within and in relation to the contexts that contain us.
When we choose our perceptual position we can then manifest and enact the behaviors most likely to produce the outcomes we desire. Choosing our perceptual position requires us to become aware of the symbolic representations we are responding to in the context. By noticing the symbolic forms we are responding to, we can choose to shift our perceptual position until we generate the symbolic form that will and does allow us to manifest and express the most useful behavior in regard to creating the most desirable outcome.
One of the most potent ways to shift the symbolic representation is to shift the filters we are using for our primary way of attending to what we’re experiencing at the sensorial level of awareness.
This can include changing the primary filter, say from visual to vestibular, or auditory to proprioceptive, as well as changing what we noticing for within a given representational system and how we’re noticing for that information sensorially prior to the transform from perception to sense-making (NOTE: in the MythoSelf Process model in addition to the V-A-K-O/G 4-tuple we extend it to a 7-tuple of primary representational systems, V-A-K-O-G- and Vs-vestibular and P-proprioceptive).
Then as we progress through the Ladder of Perception sequencing we can force the sorting pattern of information that would best support our manifestation and expression of the behavioral response most likely to create the outcome we desire. When we shift the filters and force the sorts in this way we begin to reset the processing pattern we use in relation to this situation and the creating the outcomes we desire. Within the MythoSelf Process model this is called “creative expression.”
Creative expression can be partially or fully realized, and is or is not, by the facility that you have with shifting the filters and forcing the sorts to create the behavioral manifestation and expression that most aligns with your ability to create the outcomes you desire. The more elegant the pattern of behavior, the more we can say that you are realizing the fullness of you most profound, potent and powerful creative expression.
When you a fully realizing your creative expression in the behaviors you manifest and express you are living in the most aligned way possible with your innate sense of self, and aligning with that in regard to your external performance. In this way you have begun to create the outcomes you desire by being most who you are, and reducing the friction and compromise in the system. Ultimately when you have refining this pattern and made it the default way you take action the system comes to rest, there is no urgency, stress, anxiety or conflict you experience in taking action in this way.
We can say that when the system is at rest, and you are expressing yourself in the most elegant way possible you are in a state of flow, or what we call your State of Perfection.
By applying the SSCT | Sensory-System Control Theory to notice what happens at the sensorial level of awareness, and in the translation to symbolic representation prior to taking action, we can refine the perceptual position to bring the system to rest.
When you have patterned in the requisite perception training to notice the perceptual position you are holding and its effect on the Ladder of Perception sequencing, and you are capable of choosing the position you adopt and hold to bring the system to rest, you are accessing the reference point of your State of Perfection.
Since the process requires you to attend to your sensorial awareness in a pre-representational way, it is useful to think of this as a somatic intention that occurs in direct sensorial experience had in the body-mind, before the translation to symbolic representation. Only after you have processed the sensorial experience somatically can you accurately identify the accuracy of the symbolic form to the sensorial reality. This transformation from sensation to symbol is a semantic transformation, turning direct sensorial experience into meanings that can ignite conscious decision-making leading to deliberate action-taking, i.e.: in response to an intentional outcome.
THINKING IS COMMUNICATION … COMMUNICATION IS THINKING
So we’ve now come full circle …
We are virtually always acting on the symbolic representations of reality we create from our sensorial experiences. The manipulation of symbolic representation is what we call thinking. Thinking in this way, as symbolic manipulation, operates as a communication process in terms of the use, interactions, applications, and manipulations of symbols, e.g.: words … i.e.: thinking is communication.
In addition to words, symbols can also be communicated in any sensory form we are capable of processing, e.g.: the modalities of the 7-tuple. We are capable of, and do, process symbolic form internally as intra-systemic cognition (processing of information that is self-generated – our own internal thoughts) and inter-systemic cognition (the processing of information that is externally present to us). We can also make a case for inter-subjective cognition as being processed in the space we share with others in simultaneity.
However, what I’ve come to treat as most significant is the communication process itself. I have seen that when you learn to communicate with an exquisite level of clarity and precision internally and inter-personally your ability to express elite levels of performance follows inevitably.
What I mean by elite levels of performance is the ability to consistently maximize positive consequences and minimize negative consequences in the manifestation of your desired outcomes. When you are expressing elite levels of performance, most typically from a flow state or your State of Perfection, you create the outcomes you desire with the minimal cost of time, energy, and resources, including your personal goodwill. We refer to this way of performing as “effortless” in the sense that you proceed through the process of perception, decision-making, action-taking, and adapting that cycle iteratively based on the feedback you get from taking action without any undue urgency, stress, anxiety or conflict.
From the outside looking in, the outcomes you produce when you are operating in alignment with your State of Perfection being and remaining intact appears effortless, and you experience it as being effortless as well, .
When you communicate with others you are expressing your thinking, and they experience your thinking as a process or their own thinking … i.e.: communication is thinking.
Therefore as I consider where I bring the highest value to my clients I realize over and over again it resides in the way I help them recognize the quality of their communication, with themselves and with others, and to refine it to higher levels of quality.
People who work with me begin to recognize the inconsistencies in their thinking and communication processes and begin to experience significant changes in their life as they improve their ability to think and communicate exquisitely.
If you’re serious about wanting to experience the state of flow, effortless performance and the kind of exquisite thinking and communication I’m referring to here let’s find a time to chat.
In the meantime I’d love to read your thoughts and open a channel to exchange our observations and considerations as you have them too.
Joseph Riggio, Ph.D.
I love this piece of writing. The circle keeps moving with more clarity, precision and coherence than anything else that’s out there in the coaching space, frameworks and practices.
I get your work deeper in the bones with both practice, integrating my perception of your writing and continuing to stay curious.
Thanks for being rigorous like a Samurai, being a perpetual polisher of your model and integrating it with your study and digestion of many bodies of work. All I can say is thank God for you and your work. Keep it going and may you polish is at least a million more times to see yet what else is possible.
Joseph Riggio says
The fundamental considerations of my model in its most current form are here in this article.
The translation process from sensorial experience to symbolic representation is where the magic resides.
Most people have multiple glitches in this processing from sensation to symbol. The challenge then becomes that they experience and act upon the symbolic representation as more real then sensation.
What happens as a result is that a new, fabricated sensation overwrites the generative sensation and drives their behavioral responses. This creates massive limitations in the system for them because the reality they are acting from based in their fabricated sensorial awareness is not representative of extant, external reality.
The result of this process drives the individual to distort their perception in a feed-forward way creating distortions in their behaviors that prevent them from getting the outcome they seek and desire.
When we stop and control time as a sensational experience we can reconnect the individual to a more aligned sensorial experience and processing of the incoming stream of information that’s present in the extant, external reality they are in relation to and acting within, and upon.
The more closely aligned the sensorial feedback loops are with the emergent sensorial extant, external information the more precise and effective their behavioral responses will be as well.
Manipulating the signals at the symbolic level can only adjust the quality of a poorly represented form of reality. To reset the system requires resetting the sensorial interface at the somatic level. Only then can the symbolic representation be trusted to be aligned with the extant, external information flow.
Once you have reset the system to create symbolic representations that are aligned with the extant, external information you can stabilize this process via the rewriting of the autobiographical narrative that creates continuity in the transformational process of sensational experience to symbolic representation.
As one of my teachers says, the problem occurs when you overwrite your experience with what you think it is.