Your Mental Map

Your beliefs are cause maps that you impose on the world

after which you “see” what you have already imposed. Karl Weick

Over 80 years ago Rene Magritte painted the famous picture of a pipe titled The Treachery of Images with the caption: This is not a pipe. (A picture of a pipe is not a pipe.) About the same time Alfred Korzybski coined the popular phrase: The map is not the territory. The two concepts became known as metaphorically illustrating the differences between beliefs and reality.

The point is that it has been known for a long time that the way we see things is not always the way things are, but influenced by each person’s “overall perspective and collection of beliefs” (worldview). So our view of the world is always our interpretation through mental maps, symbols, images, and metaphors, which are great mental tools for understanding reality; however, they are not reality. Confusing the map for the territory is to misinterpret reality. However, most people don’t yet seem to be able to acknowledge this.

An image is a mental picture, which is a mental map. But you can use maps metaphorically without believing they equal the territory. Our perception of reality is not reality itself but our own version of it, or own “map”. No two people have the same map.

This is what I have been writing about for years. Following is a summary review of my version of the “treachery of images” — 80 years later.

Your mental map IS your territory

Changing your view changes you.

  • What you see is not all there is; part of the territory is invisible.
  • Your image is your personal reality; it is the way you see things.
  • Keep your mind’s eye on what you can’t see and don’t see.
  • Changing the way you see things changes your reality.

Perceptions are portraits not photographs. Daniel Gilbert

This entry was posted in Beliefs. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Gene Unger says:

    I am sitting in a puddle of perceptions! Help! Keep it simple. Trust your wisdom to lead you out of the darkness of miss perceptions. G

    Sent from my iPad


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