Martin Messier

December 9, 2023

Untangling cognitive knots

My cousin believed her partner was unfaithful because he was often late. It was actually due to a secret project preparing for their anniversary.

This is a classic case of a cognitive pitfall where we mistakenly equate one thing with another. In NLP, we call this cognitive pitfall a "Complex Equivalence." It's like seeing rain and concluding it must be a sad day. In reality, the rain is just rain, and sadness is a separate entity.

In coaching sessions, I've seen countless instances where individuals create their own narratives based on faulty links. "The prospect hasn't returned my call, so he's not interested." "She didn't call, so she must be upset with me." These are the stories we tell ourselves, not necessarily the truths of our situations.

Understanding Complex Equivalence is like learning to untangle a knot. Each thread of thought, once separated, reveals a clearer, more accurate picture. It's about dissecting our assumptions and asking, "Is this necessarily true?"

In the case of my cousin, her belief was a reflection of her fears, not the reality of her partner's actions. It's a gentle reminder that our interpretations are not always the truth.

The next time you find yourself leaping to a conclusion, pause. Ask yourself, "Is this the only interpretation?" Often, you'll find there's more to the story. The beauty of human experience lies in its complexity and our ability to explore it with curiosity and openness.

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