NLP Time Lines - what are they and how can they be used?


NLP time lines are mental constructs that are used internally to organize time. They are closely related to submodalities. The first thing to do before working with NLP time lines is to discover your own time line.

Before working through this process you should work through the lessons NLP Memory Manipulation - Change the Content of your Memories and NLP Submodalities - Change your Reality.

Discover your own NLP Time Line

Hopefully you've experimented with some of the other lessons on this site and are quite comfortable analyzing your own internal representations. To begin you need to thing of an experience or event in your life that happened around 5 years ago and to visualize that event as vividly as possible.

Now, in the same way as within the lesson NLP Submodalities - Change your Reality, notice where in space you project that image, for instance:

  • Is the picture to the left or right?
  • Is the picture above or below your sight level?
  • How far away is the picture?

Having found a position for this event, think of an event that happened within the last week and notice the position again.

Imagine an event that will happen a year in the future, and then finally an event 5 years in the future such as your birthday.

Now if you take your finger and trace through those points in order, you should discover that they create a line or curve.

There are no fixed positions for time lines, but there are three common patterns. These are:

  • Left to Right
  • Behind to In front
  • Below to Above

In the west most people have either a 'left to right' or 'behind to in front' time line. In the case of the 'left to right' time line the past is usually to the left in right handed people and to the right in left handed people. The 'behind to in front' time line usually runs from behind to in front - people tend to put the past behind then!

The 'below to above' pattern is rare in the west, but strangely is almost universal in Japan - could this be linked to the way japanese is written?

Like many submodality concepts there are a lot of little idiosyncratic behaviors based on peoples preferences. For instance people who run their time line from behind to in front may struggle to see far into the future. If the pictures further away from the present are smaller then perhaps you'll find it harder to focus on those distance events. Do you think if the gaps between the days on your time line was larger you might get more done?

Once you have discovered your own time line, check out some NLP time line techniques.


See also:


Previous comments

Problem With TimeLine

Both The Experiences Came into the Center of My Mind.

What can be the Problem?

Mystery, India

Posted October 16, 2011 at 00:36

Need to Experiment more

Timelines usually go either left to right or from in front to behind. It may be that your timeline runs from behind to infront and you didn't realise the distance. Try with a few more events - maybe even one from when you were a small child. I'm sure you'll eventually notice a pattern.

Chris Harrison, UK

Posted November 4, 2011 at 20:40

What a bulls**t. However enthusiastic I could get about NLP, there is NO "TIMELINE" in my case (and I suppose there are far more examples than just me). I see the past just like I see the present and the future - I see it the way I saw it then, all around me, no flat pictures to the left or in the back, 3D full HD! Same goes for the one year in the future. Only five years from now I saw myself in a 5 meters distance, because I have a vague idea what my future will be like. I guess I kind of positioned a me-doll in a situation that could happen to myself then.

Or maybe the me-doll is a proof I have a back-to-front timeline? How about it being a proof of me being realistic instead? It's not like I can promise myself I will get The Job (what job would I like anyway?) or The Spouse (should I meet someone suitable) or whatever (a student's talking). I don't know what awaits me in the future.

You'd better verify your theories with a wider audience before calling them a rule (or perhaps the experiments where conducted in a way that made people believe they should notice a timeline and if they didn't, they felt too stupid to admit it...)! And don't make me believe I didn't notice something, I could almost count the hair of people I saw!!! :P

Well I guess NLP is not scientific enough to give it a go after all... but it does have a potential.


Posted January 2, 2012 at 11:06

To ...

Quite a rant that. Where do I start ...

Ok, so you don't think your timeline runs left to right or back to front - fair enough. Interestingly in Japan timelines tend to run vertically. I wonder why that might be ...

If I were you I would continue to experiment, because you must differentiate events at different times in some way. Perhaps imagine your birthday next year, then the year after, then in five years and look for a difference in the images. Perhaps you don't differentiate by position but by another submodality. I'd be interested in your results.

As to verifying my theories, I don't understand - there is nothing in the article that hasn't been known within the NLP community for years, and there are no rules only general findings.

Good Luck!

Chris Harrison, UK

Posted January 5th, 2012 at 16:21