The Effect of “To Be” in Daily Conversation


Alfred Korzybski in “Science and Sanity” (1933) reflects on the verb “to be” and the process of identification. He used to train people to avoid saying “I am”, asking them “Is this all you think you are?”.

Have you noticed when we are asked “who are you”, often, we say our name, and maybe mention our occupation/job title? Is this all we are? The verb TO BE can be limiting and reflects our beliefs about ourselves.

His work was based on the view that human beings are limited in their knowledge by the structure of their perceptions and their language. Unable to experience the world directly, they resort to “abstractions” (non-verbal perceived impressions and verbal indicators expressed through language). The structure of our perceptions and our language (which determine our understanding) sometimes misleads us as to what is going on, what we must deal with. We create an abstraction and this is the reality we deal with. He called for an increased awareness in each of us of that process of abstraction.

Interestingly enough, some 800 years before Korzybski, in India, Shankaracharya, the creator of the philosophy of non-duality Advaita Vedanta, mentioned the human process of “Adhyasa”, superimposition of meaning onto the unchanging reality through our senses, and its remedy, “Apavada” deconstruction of the operation of the senses.

Expanding the structure of our language and our perceptions, we can truly achieve mind-bloggling results!

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Categories : Coaching, Reframe

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