NLP Submodalities - Change your Reality


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In the lesson NLP Memory Manipulation - Change the Content of your Memories I asked you to remember different people, and think about how you represented them, and you changed the way you felt about them by changing the content of the images, the sounds, and your own kinesthetic responses.

In this NLP Lesson we’re going to work on something different, and that something is submodalities. Submodalities can be used as a compliment to the content changes, as well as providing the basis of many of the more powerful NLP techniques.

Unlike the content changes where we changed the content of a memory, now we’re going to change the structure.

For now we’re going to work with two of the three main modalities, starting with visual, as that is, for most people, the easiest submodality to work with, and then we'll move on to the auditory modality. For an introduction to submodalities, read the article NLP Submodalities - what are they and how do you use them. If you managed fine with the content lesson then these exercises should be no problem.

So here goes:

Firstly, remember a time when you were outside or a sunny day and were having a wonderful time.

I want you to concentrate on the image you make, and for this exercise, remember this memory as if you were there, so you are not in the picture, but are seeing the scene as if through your own eyes - in other words Associated.

Concentrate and notice what feeling the memory evokes.

Now, what you’re going to do is play around with the structure of the memory and see what happens to the feeling.

In NLP, for each of the five modalities there are numerous submodalities.

For instance, the following is a list of some of the submodalities that can be adjusted within the visual modality:

  • Distance
  • Size
  • Brightness
  • Location
  • Contrast

A simple way to think of the difference between changing the content and changing the structure is to use the metaphor of a television set. Changing the structure is like using the television remote to change the brightness, color level, contrast, or speed of the moving picture, rather than changing the actual contents of the picture.

Now one thing that often happens when we start using submodalities is that some people get confused between changing the content and changing the submodalities of the image, so here are a few examples:

Imagine an image floating in space around arms length away directly in front of you.

The image is around the size of a normal television screen and consists of yourself standing on a beach, on a sunny day.

Changing the submodality for location, involves moving the image from its position in front of you, either forward, backwards, up, down, or left and right, or any combination of these, but without changing the picture itself.

Changing the size means keeping the picture in place, but shrinking it or enlarging it.

Changing the brightness can be a particularly difficult submodality to work with, depending upon the type of image you are working with, due to the fact that it is difficult to not change the content of the image.

Imagine trying to turn the brightness up on an image of a candlelit dinner.

Shifting the brightness may just not be a useful thing to do in this case, but for many exercises, brightness is a very valuable submodality to work with.

So let's try one shift to get the ball rolling:

Remember a time that makes you feel really good, and as you visualize this, notice where in space the image is.

Now take the image and push it off into the distance, ensuring that the image stays the same size, and just gets further away (the image will appear smaller simply because it's further away).

How does that memory make you feel now?

Now take the image and bring it slowly towards yourself, aim for around half the distance between your nose and it's original position.

How does that memory make you feel now?

And before you finish, move the image back to its original place.



Previous comments


When I try to visualize something I find that it's really blurry. So blurry that whenever I try and work out how a the particular submodalities 'look' I really can't tell.

Also, if I try and move an image around, I can't get it to stay where I want, and it just moves around.

It's really frustrating. How can I make my images clearer?

Nick, Glasgow

Posted May 8, 2010 at 12:43

No Need to Struggle

Firstly, this issue comes up a lot. Surprisingly, many people think that they visualize worse than other people, but the truth is that no one really knows how well anyone else visualizes. The best thing to do is to keep practicing. When it comes to stabilizing images, practice should help you. If one of the exercises asks you a question about an images submodalities and you're not sure of the answer, then guess - you'll find that this will do fine.

Chris Harrison, UK

Posted May 14, 2010 at 20:17

Like light at the end of the tunnel

I have an unusual, but by no means unique, phobia that I'm only just getting to grips with. I tried this exercise on an unrelated memory from my childhood that definitely made me squirm when I thought of it. But now it's gone off into the distance and does all by itself whenever I think of it. I don't get that horrible feeling anymore. And it was SUCH a physical feeling. I'm starting to believe my fears can be conquered.

Jenny, Florida

Posted January 22, 2012 at 23:26

Great Stuff!

Good Stuff, Jenny. There is something really rewarding when you come to test a submodality change and the picture zooms off automatically.

Chris Harrison, UK

Posted January 25, 2012 at 13:30

to keep good relationship with others

as a it was really helpful for me personally and make progress in my clients. expecting more in this area. thank you for your writings.

nithin, India

Posted January 22, 2012 at 23:26