NLP Practitioner: Submodality Mapping Trouble

It’s a common question: what happens in doing Mapping Across when you found that your client has the desired state image and problem state image submodalities as identical?

According to Bandler, it is through the process of contrast that we learn. LaValle (during our training) mentions this: “The brain learns from what is different, and recognizes what’s the same”. So, it’s going to be quite impossible for a client to have two different experiences and have the same submodalities.

It must mean, therefore, error on the part of the practitioner!

Most practitioners follow the steps as indicated inside a textbook. Now, I’m not saying that’s bad, but I’m suggesting that the issue associated with this is a highly rigid practitioner!

Let’s do a simulation here:

PR: Think of a time when you were motivated.

CL: Ok.

PR: Is is close or far away?

CL: Close.

PR: Is it black and white or color?

CL: Color.

<snip… elicitation of first experience over>

PR: Think of the image of your procrastination.

CL: Ok.

PR: Is is close or far away?

CL: Close.

PR: Is it black and white or color?

CL: Color.

PR: (wait a minute… they are all the same)

PR: Uh… (raises hand to look for Stuart)

You see… the issue here is the practitioner does not know how to determine the “difference that makes the difference”. The practitioner should say something like this:

PR: Think of a time when you were motivated.

CL: Ok.

PR: Is is close or far away?

CL: Close.

PR: Is it black and white or color?

CL: Color.

<snip… elicitation of first experience over>

PR: Think of the image of your procrastination.

CL: Ok.

PR: Is is close or far away?

CL: Close.

PR: Hm, which is closer, the motivated picture you saw earlier or this one?

CL: The motivated one.

So, remember, it’s not that difficult to ask the client to do a comparison. Most beginners who experience NLP may not be able to articulate their representations very well. So, it is up to us to be able to communicate in a way that best fits our client.

NLP Practitioner: Submodality Distinctions

Most people don’t pay close enough attention to submodality distinctions. I feel it’s important to highlight this because every time a set of submodalities are elicited, we must be aware of these three elements:


Every image will carry a state. This state is influenced by the representational systems, the physiology you carry and the words you use. This is often the focus of a change procedure. When you want to feel more motivated, you will be able to assess your level of success if your state has changed.


Every image will also be contextualized within the environment that carries that image. It’s something you can’t really change. See, if you elicit two submodality sets, one of procrastination and one of motivation, the one where you were procrastinated could be in the workplace context but the one of motivation could be in a travel context. In such a situation, you have to be aware that the environment remains the same. You want to be able to see the environment through ‘different eyes’.


This is something that is often not changed either. Often, the state will drive the behavior. Hence, you need to visualize the desired behavior being carried out after your desired state is intensified. This can be better seen when you explore the Swish Pattern as devised by Richard Bandler.

NLP Practitioner: Submodality Strategies

There are three distinct categories of submodality work that can be done. I think it is important that I first assert the issues surrounding submodality work that many trainers of practitioners seldom address.

Reasons why submodalities are not fully used

I’ve seen a lot of different ways in which submodalities are used, but why are they sometimes not used? Here are some reasons:-

  1. Submodalities appears to be complicated. This is sometimes due to the technical nature of submodalities. It is necessary to address this and to second position the learner and understand what exactly is the barrier. Often, beliefs are the barrier to learning, and by addressing the belief and shifting it, you could allow your learner to advance much more.
  2. Don’t know how to use submodalities. This issue comes across when the mechanics of submodalities are not addressed. For instance, it may be easy for a trainer to say “make your picture dimmer” but the student has no concept of ‘making’ it dimmer. First, they might not be able to get over the idea that they are in charge. Second, they might not understand the difference between ‘analog‘ and ‘digital‘ submodalities.
  3. Don’t know how to apply. This often comes as a result of reliance on a script. In many cases, I’ve found it interesting that the client’s frame of thought actually enables me to identify the solution. A client once said “I keep cleaning other people’s mess uncontrollably when I see their mess”. By exploring their submodalities, I can see why that ‘mess’ is ‘uncontrollable’. It was due to the subjective scale that makes this client far more sensitive to mess than others. What is a level 3 mess for you is a level 10 mess for him. I believe that once practitioners know how to determine what submodalities are used for, and the varied extent of their applications, they will be able to know how to use them.
  4. Inability to remember definitions. Ok this is something that will require another strategy: a memory strategy 🙂
  5. Definition meanings. Some practitioners fail to define the meanings of what a client says effectively. While NLP is great in exploring issues without the need to ask for the content behind the issue, it becomes a problem if the structure of the issue is not first clarified. The term “motivation” is sometimes misunderstood, for example. Some people think of motivation as a really big sense of achievement. Of course, not everyone has had ‘massive’ achievements.

3 Categories Of Submodality Work

  1. Comparison of states, beliefs and values
  2. Modification of states, beliefs and values
  3. Associating states, beliefs and values

I’ll cover each of them in turn in future articles.

NLP Definitions: Digital Submodality

Unlike an analog submodality, a digital submodality carries a mental description that is like a discrete (or non-continuous) variable. For example, the value of a range is specific to “1 to 7”, or an “on” or “off” switch.

In NLP, a digital submodality is one where we can control it like an on-off switch. For instance, the “associated” or “dissociated” image; the “2D”/”3D” image are examples of a digital submodality.

NLP Definitions: Analog Submodality

An analog (analogue) submodality carries a mental description that is like a non-discrete (or continuous) variable. For example, the value of a range is specific to “1 to 7”, any of the numbers there is a specific variable, but the value at 1.17 is within the continuous or analog scale.

In NLP, an analog submodality is one where we can control it like a continuous scale. There are non-discrete measures when one refers to grades of “color” or “size” within the submodality description.

NLP Phobia Cure: Many alternatives don't work

Just thought I’d share this.

Someone on Facebook asked me if exposure to the thing they are phobic about will remove their fear. I think this all comes about as a result of someone’s stupid idea that you have to “face your fear”.

Sure, you face your fear when you have the relevant amount of resources to help you.


Because your brain is thinking the same way! It will always interpret that signal (snake, heights, worms, spiders, flying, stage presentations) as a fear and trigger of emotions. Exposing without any change to the brain will not accomplish much.

(Well. Maybe it would increase fear and anxiety even further!)

You really need to consider from the point of the brain. Brain says: wow this is something that terrifies me. It pushes a few buttons.

It means the trigger is not being reinterpreted. You need to get the brain to a point where it says: Hmm is this something that is dangerous for me?

I think it was Einstein who said that insanity is defined as doing something the same way and expecting a different result. Change your strategy. Phobias can be eliminated effectively within a single session for simple or single-event trigger phobias. Conversely, even for an intense event (PTSD or exposure to a traumatic situation like war, dead bodies, artillery shelling, family abuse, etc) you can still handle it pretty well within a few sessions, depending on the nature of the client’s pathology.

NLP Phobia Cure Technique: The Truth Behind It

I’ve been looking around the internet and can’t believe the bunch of bull that people are putting on the net regarding the Fast Phobia Cure. There’s a lot of amateurs out there who don’t really know what they are doing.

NLP is a way of getting you to be resourceful by learning how to build and handle your own emotional cocktails. Not everyone has the ability to do that and it requires flexibility because every technique that is built for a specific issue in NLP was modeled by someone else.

What you might find is that the Fast Phobia Cure happens to work well for people who have never learnt how to dissociate. Originally, you will find this technique called the “V-K Dissociation Technique”. Conversely, there are some people with what psychologists call a “dissociative disorder” who actually are competent in dissociation and don’t really need this technique.

Essentially, though, not everyone will go through the technique like a textbook. Unlike the claims made by some websites that this is a powerful therapeutic technique, this technique needs to be tailored in order to fit the needs of the client. And of course is not a replacement for therapy. It works nicely with regular people. But you know that humans aren’t the same across the board. We have our own quirks and complexities, so it takes an experienced individual to be able to detect these differences.

Use with caution, preferably with an expert you trust!

Step 1: Find a resourceful place. Anchor that.

Step 2: Float into a place where you can experience the phobia at a distance. If conducting this, also preframe the process and anticipate reactions of your client.

Step 3: See yourself in that place. Apply submodality mapping techniques utilizing states of intense humor and unstoppable confidence.

Step 4: Test the emotional intensity. If too high, activate the resource.

Step 5: Float back into the actual experience and test. Has the fear disappeared? If not, map the submodality from other representational systems until the fear disappears.

Step 6: Future pace.

Step 7: Physical test. Bring the real stimulus and have the person test on the real situation as best as possible.

NOTE: I highly recommend that if you have not gone through formal training as a psychotherapist or in NLP, you do not attempt this on someone who has an actual phobia. It takes a wee bit more than just these 7 steps. 🙂

How To Deal With A Quick Tempered Partner

NLP is not a therapeutic process, and isn’t a psychological approach. It is a way of enhancing your resourcefulness and enjoying life. If someone is interested to discover how NLP is used, they can find so in many, many ways.

One such way is personal development. I’ve found NLP to be a great skill in developing better relationships by understanding how people communicate, for example.

In this case, how can you deal with someone who is quick tempered? The simple way to find out is to know that person well. Identify the triggers to that behavior. Very often, quick temper is triggered off by a variety of factors. Your job, if using NLP, is to look for resourceful emotions to completely counteract those (we call that collapsing anchors).

  1. Find the triggering event. It could be a person’s voice, a particular situation or a particular sound, maybe even a combination of all of these.
  2. Reframe these events before they happen. This is important – you don’t want to wait until it occurs then do “NLP stuff” because you’re training the brain. And the brain does need time to react and adapt!
  3. Associate these triggering events to different emotions. Once you have completed step 2, it would be easy to associate triggers to a different emotional state.

Here’s a word of caution, though. If you want to handle someone quick tempered, you may also want to consider if you are the trigger sometimes. Are your listening skills up to par? do you know what your partner needs? If you are able to listen and put your own self out of the way sometimes, it can help! To help you build those skills, you can approach a relationship coach who can then guide you a long.