The Meta Model

The Meta Model Distortions

The Meta Model distortions are responsible for some major limitations and poor map creation. Anything we make up, or that we have no sensory evidence for is a distortion. Maybe you are thinking, “I don’t make things up, I am a very down to earth person”.

Future planning

Consider what happens when you invest in a retirement plan. You are thinking about a future that does not exist. You literally cannot see yourself retired unless you already are. You cannot see a picture of something that hasn’t happened yet.

Yet we can imagine future consequences and benefits.


A concept or an idea is something humans make up. Have you ever tripped over a relationship? A relationship consists of a number of ongoing interactions and shared experiences over time (another concept). Can you put a job in a wheelbarrow?

We use labels for categories of concepts, but there is no sensory-based evidence for them. There are certainly examples of them, but we make up the label for the idea. It’s like a shorthand marker.

Nominalizations – Recipe for Misunderstanding

Nominalizations are processes (verbs) we turn into nouns. Doing this sends deceptive messages to our brains. For example, a “decision” is actually the process of deciding; a relationship is the process of relating to someone. By changing the process into a fixed static thing, we can feel it is unchanging and limit our choices for action.

Mind reading – Jumping to Conclusions

Mind reading is assuming you know what the other person is thinking or feeling without checking. This pattern causes a great deal of interpersonal difficulties and is another of the important Meta model problem solving strategies.

Cause effects – How our world works

When a person uses a cause effect statement, they are identifying how they believe something works. That X causes Y, or that doing X makes Y happen.

Lost Performatives – Not my Beliefs

Lost performatives are when someone is talking about a personal belief, but presents it as though it was a universal truth. We then accept it as true without questioning it as we would if we heard it as someone’s personal opinion.

Linguistic Presuppositions – Accepting What I Say

Linguistic presuppositions are the most powerful of the Meta model and Milton model language patterns. As a communicator, wouldn’t it be great if people accepted what you said without question sometimes?

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