NLP Definitions: Submodalities

It’s not always easy to explain submodalities to someone new to NLP. Submodalities are often defined as “the difference that makes the difference”. Rather than ascribing you the vague explanation, let’s use a metaphor.

Your mind is like the hardware that gets to run certain kinds of software. Think of your mind as the computer. In order to run certain habits or behaviours (programs), you need the codes that make those programs work (submodalities).

That means that if one program runs a particular way and is configured in a particular way, there must be a logical reason for their function. For instance, if happiness is always pictured as bright and colorful, it must mean that anytime a picture is made bright and colorful, you will become happy.

For submodalities to function as a program effectively, you need a combination of elements in them.

  1. a strategy. These are frequently refered to as NLP techniques, and there are a wide range of them (six-step reframing, swish pattern, circle of excellence, change personal history, fast phobia cure, mapping across, intensifying or de-intensifying) alongside variations of each.
  2. an understanding of the client. This requires the use of the meta model in order to create some kind of understanding of the client and the situation, particularly the question of how important the change is to the client.
  3. a well-formed outcome. There are several elements that will enable the achievement of an outcome, particularly evidence that one is actually reaching there.

A submodality checklist is available here.

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