How NLP Submodality Distinctions Work in Real Life
Our conclusion is that sometimes all that’s needed to make a quantum leap forward is to change the way you store and access memories. Presumably this is why Richard Bandler (co-creator of NLP for you newbies) described Submodalities as “the most important work I’ve done so far”.
PS – this article will explain the work I did with my friend, and it requires a working understanding of NLP Submodalities. If you’re not sure what this means, you can get a good overview of
NLP Submodality Distinctions here.
To cut a long story short, my friend was using VERY different NLP Submodality distinctions for two areas of his life – one area where he was very confident and assured; and one area where he felt some insecurities and was not at his best.
To give you a bit of background info, my buddy was very confident of his aptitude in the gym; of his sports prowess in general; and regarding his actual physique (he is a big chap with muscles – and is handsome and single too ladies, so drop me a note if you want an introduction!)
He has some problems relating to work, however. He feels less “at home” in an office, and sometimes procrastinates and causes himself difficulties. This results in anxiety and stress – and a loss of earnings (he works in sales – I’m sure all you sales people out there can relate to his situation!)
I suspected that the way he thought about these different areas of his life could be helped with a little NLP Submodality work, as his entire posture changed when he spoke about the different parts of his life, and it seemed quite obvious that he was storing the memories differently.
This is a description of the NLP process I used to help him see his problems in an altogether different light.
What Was He Doing?
To understand how he was storing memories, I first asked my buddy to relax, shut his eyes and take some deep breaths.
I then got him to bring up memories of him in the gym and doing sport, and describe to me what he could see.
After some prompting from me, we ascertained that in the picture he was very much the centre of attention, as if the focus was purely on him. His outfit was bold and standing out, and he looked handsome and strong and powerful (his words – not mine!) He had a good posture and a big smile on his face and it was obvious that he was a happy dude. The picture was vibrant and right in front of him, and it was quite a big image too. There were loud sounds and he felt great.
To test which NLP Submodality distinctions were most important to him, I experimented with making the image bigger and smaller; by moving it around; and by dulling the colours, amongst other things. We ascertained that the memory lost its “power” over him if we made it smaller; moved it to the right and then behind him, and drained out some of the colour. This was some interesting stuff that I could work with. I made sure to “lock the image” back where it was originally before moving on (which is very important for all you do-it-yourself NLPers out there!)
After breaking state by asking him what a piece of fluff I found on the floor would be useful for (he looked at me like I’d gone mad until he realised what I was doing), I asked him to access the memories of him at work. The differences in the way he stored the memories were astounding.
In this instance, he had a bad suit on, his hair was messy, and he was slouched down in his chair. The image was below him – much lower than the “good” memory – and the picture was dull with no vibrancy at all. Additionally, this was a snapshot of a still image – whereas before with the good memories it was more like a slide show of empowering pictures.
What Did We Do Next?
After explaining to him what I wanted to do, we began to change the NLP Submodality distinctions for his “bad” memory.
First, I asked him to put on an expensive suit in his mind, and see himself standing up straight with a good posture. I told him to make sure he had a bloody hair cut too! (PS – I’m not sure if this is really NLP Submodality work yet, but it seemed to help him feel better about the memory)
What we did next was very simple: we basically experimented with storing the “bad” memory the way he stored the “good” memory. This means that we raised the image up in front of him and made it bigger, we made the colours more vibrant, and we made my friend the focus of the image.
This worked OK, but he had mixed feelings – whilst he felt better about seeing himself like this, some of the stress of the memory remained.
Undeterred, we tried a new approach – rather than making this image the same as the good one, why not shrink it down and get rid of it altogether? To do this, we drained the colour out of the picture, made it smaller, pushed it off to the right, shrunk it down some more, and then pushed this tiny little dot of a memory behind his head, and then “locked it” in place.
What happened next? Well, the memory seemed to have lost its emotional charge on my friend. He no longer visibly shuffled in his seat when thinking about it, and his posture improved. He began to smile a bit and it definitely seemed as if he had made an improvement.
When I asked him how he felt about work now, although inevitably he wasn’t entirely enthusiastic, he certainly appeared to be more positive and resourceful. Additionally, the memory wasn’t causing him internal turmoil any longer.
In short, my friend had found a way to lower the impact of negative beliefs and bad memories by using NLP Submodality distinctions.
How NLP Submodality Distinctions can Work for You
These exercises work best with a friend you trust, and only take 10 minutes or so to do. You don’t even have to tell them what problem you are dealing with either, all they need to do is help you to change the Submodalities of the image, so you can see which ones have power over you.
Whilst this isn’t the most powerful NLP technique (in my eyes), it’s definitely worth using as part of your personal development arsenal. After all, in ten minutes you can change the impact of pretty powerful memories and limiting beliefs, which is a worthwhile use of time, I reckon. Even if you can diminish the charge of a memory by 10-20%, you can free up some space to install a more empowering belief in its place.
After doing this NLP Submodality exercise, me and my buddy teamed up and played some co-op play on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. He was excellent, and saved me from enemies a few times, which is most out of character. I claim full credit for his new-found abilities!
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An Introduction to NLP plus links to all my NLP articles