Do You Feel What I Feel
by Steve Andreas
When I taught introductory psychology classes in junior college in the late 60s, one of the topics was color perception. Since I had well over a hundred students, and the incidence of color blindness is about 5% among males, there were usually two or three students with color perception deficits each semester. Although some of these students already knew this, some didn’t. It was fascinating to watch their initial disbelief and shock gradually fade, as they began to realize that others really did have a much more vivid and intense experience of “red” and “green” than they did–one that they could never know.
There are at least two other examples that strongly indicate that specific processing deficits severely limit what some people can do:
- Attention Deficit. While some people with this label can be helped by a variety of NLP methods, some may simply lack the neurology for “gating” circuits that allow most of us to “tune out” irrelevant stimuli so that we can focus on what is important to the task at hand. Because of this, only the simplest situations are free of confusion and chaos, and the resulting blizzard of feelings.
- Autism. While there is a range of severity of autistic symptoms, apparently many autistic people are simply not able to step into another person’s experience in order to intuit their probable feelings, motivations and incongruencies. Because of this, other human beings are forever a puzzle to them.
I have often thought about the wider implications of these examples, particularly in regard to feelings. We usually assume that others have more or less the same experience when we use words like “tired,” “alert,” “motivated,” “angry,” etc. But there may be people whose internal states when they are “motivated” are as different from mine as a color-blind person’s experience of “red.” I know how little I can accomplish late in the day when I’m tired and my brain feels “furry.” It’s entirely possible that some people feel like this when they use the words “alert” or “motivated.” Thinking about how little I would accomplish if that was the best I ever felt has led me to be at least a bit more tolerant of those who have difficulty accomplishing things that most of us find relatively simple and easy.
Often, of course, a simple NLP intervention in a motivation strategy or anchoring states of tenacity, or resolving a conflict between parts with different outcomes, etc. will make it possible for these people to accomplish what they want.
But it could also be the case that their physiology is so different that none of these interventions will make much of a difference. Thinking about this possibility shouldn’t prevent us from trying everything we can think of, but it might lead us to do it all with a bit more humility.
Originally Published in Anchorpoint Magazine, July, 1998; reprinted with permission.