THE TIME MATRIX
You— A Temporal Being Living in Time
In the Matrix Model, we have distinguished five aspects of self, time is one such aspect. As a review, we first have your value or worth (i.e., self-esteem) and identity, these are in the Self matrix. Your power, skills, abilities, assets, liabilities, etc. are in the Power matrix (self-confidence). Your relationship to others is your social self which includes social intelligence, social skills, and social activities, these are all in the Others matrix. Then, in the Time matrix we have you as a temporal being. You live in time, you represent time, you relate to time, you operate in time.
In a similar way to how you represent “people” in the Others matrix and put them in various places around you (your Social Panorama), you do the same with the concept of “time.” This was noted early in NLP by Richard Bandler and gave birth to a sub-model, Time-Lines. Yet as a concept, “time” does not exist. If it did, what would it look like, sound like, feel like, smell like, or taste like? It is not a thing. It does not exist “out there” in the world as an entity. It is a concept which you construct in your mind. But about what? What does it refer to?
It refers to events, activities, and experiences. On the outside what exists are events. When the earth spins so that it faces the sun and then faces away from it, we compare two events, the planet as it spins and revolves in relationship to the sun. In this way we call into existence such ideas as “day” and “night.” When you hold in mind some event and then compare it with similar events that have occurred, or that could occur, and/or when you compare it against different kinds of events, you generate the concept of time. It is that simple and yet, simultaneously, it is that profound.
Actually the only “time” that exists is now. Yet by conceptualizing events, we are able to construct many more time-concepts and these concepts, in turn, influence your sense of self. As all of this occurs in the Time matrix, it powerfully influences your temporal self. It makes you a temporal being— you live in time because you, as an event, keep changing. We call it “growing up.” Your social worth rises and falls with the circumstances and phases in your life span as you get older. Further, what you looked like when you were born, or at 1 or at 10 or 20 or at any other “age” (measured by the number of revolutions the planet has made around the sun), significantly influences how you experience yourself. You, as an event, live in time and keep changing and evolving.
Living in time and being a temporal being also means that you have a sense of beginning and ending. This creates an awareness of your mortality, that you are a mortal human being— you will die. Knowing this and living in the face of this time element, facilitates living more purposefully and valuing every minute as precious. Now is your time.
The first NLP distinction about time was with regard to your orientation to the time zones (past, present, and future) and where you focus your attention. Where do you mostly live? Is it in the past, the present, or the future? Those who experience time as a primary state are “in” time which is why they hardly notice it. They are in the eternal moment. Those who experience time more as a meta-state (called “through time” in NLP) are actually “outside” of time and from there they can more easily see it and recognize what “time” it is (i.e., how much daylight is left).
This gives us two primary ways of experiencing time and therefore two different kinds of “time-lines.” People in primary state time (“in time”) tend to get lost in time and experience life randomly or all at once. People in meta-state time (“through time”) operate more sequentially, in a step-by-step fashion. If you carefully watch and listen to people, you can see and recognize how a person is operating, inside or outside of the person’s representations.
“Time” as your comparing of events is a meta-cognitive awareness. When you are not aware of it, you are in an event and unaware of other events. You are in-time, lost in time and experiencing an eternal now. This powerfully enriches a great many experiences: love making, being totally present with a friend, or engaged in a project. It can also frustrate one outside the event who wait for you to get to the next event!
If you “live” a lot or most of your time in the past and reference the past, you may have a thinking style that we could call precedent thinking. When you consider problems, solutions, outcomes, or whatever, your frame of reference is the past or even more limiting your past. Everything is processed according to what has happened leaving no room for new possibilities. If you “live” a lot or most of your time in the future, your thinking style would probably be possibility thinking. While this usually makes you optimistic and hopeful, it can also blind you to constraints so that you are unrealistic.
When you are comfortably and pleasurably aware of time, you can plan, sequence events, and operate efficiently in the modern world. Of course, this can drive loved ones and friends crazy if you’re on holiday or needing to be totally present.
Given the Time matrix and how it defines you as a person, your meanings and/or beliefs about this concept of time can powerfully influence many of your emotions as well as your skills. If you believe that time is your enemy, you will develop a bad relationship with it. You will probably think that you don’t have enough time, and might then feel time as “pressure.” If you believe time is your friend, you will probably experience it as a positive experience to embrace.