Often we use metaphorical sayings in our language, which can provide insight into our minds. A statement such as “I can hear him loud and clear” might be ignored by a common person, but a person trained in Neuro-linguistic Programming will understand its inherent meaning. Such metaphors are a literal description of the person’s internal representation. The concept of Neuro-linguistic Programming submodalities tells us how the brain and nervous system functions operate, and how the mind programs our behavior, feelings and abilities.
As per Neuro-linguistic courses, there are three fundamental ways in which we think, namely through pictures, sounds and feelings. Thinking also happens with the help of taste, smell and meta-representational system of language. However, the primary representation is images, sounds and feelings. This is the domain of our Neuro-linguistic Programming submodalities, and it can help us distinguish between our internal representations.
In order to explain the concept of these three submodalities, you need to think of a pleasant experience.
If you see a picture of the experience, you are using the visual submodality. Identify whether the picture is in color or black and white. Is the picture three-dimensional or a flat photograph? Are you present in the picture using dissociation, or are you seeing the experience through your eyes using association? Is the picture panoramic or in a photo frame? Is the memory in the form or a movie or is it a still picture? Is the picture at a distance, or close by? Is the picture dark or bright, in focus or out of focus? Try to list all aspects of the picture, its location and finer details. This is the visual inner representation of the memory.
When you are able to hear the sounds in the memory, you are using the auditory submodality. Identify whether the sound is soft or loud, thin or full , timbre or resonant. What is the direction of the sound? Is the sound stereo or mono, clear or dull, moving fast or slow? Identify all aspects of the sound. This is the auditory inner representation of the memory.
If you can also feel the sensations within that memory, you are using the kinesthetical submodality. Identify the intensity of the feelings, and the texture on your skin. If the feeling had shape, what would the shape be? If the feeling had weight, what would the load be? Did the experience feel hot or cold? Which part of the body experienced a sensation? Identify all aspects of the feeling. This is the kinesthetical inner representation of the memory.
These Neuro-linguistic Programming quality attributes of the internal representation are the submodalities, and comprise of the VAK modalities. Neuro-linguistic submodalities consist of the building blocks of the internal representational systems, and are the qualities or properties of this representation. We can represent all our emotions, beliefs and experiences using submodalities within the brain using Neuro-linguistic courses. We give word meanings to each submodality property, which are then processes to create our reality. Submodalities are processed to create emotions, which are then used to determine our behavior. Submodalities are present at the primary levels as well as the Meta levels within our representational coding, as per Neuro-linguistic training.
There lies a key difference even within each Neuro-linguistic submodality. For example for a visual submodality, the image that we recreate is either in color or in black and white. It cannot be something in between as we cannot create an in between coding. Such a difference is called a digital submodality, where the function is either on or off. Another example of digital submodality is a picture that either is in motion or is still; it cannot be both.
On the other hand, the image can have a range of possible values. For example an image that is close or at a distance. There can be a range of possible locations the image can take even if it is at a distance. This submodality varies over a continuum, and is termed as analogue submodality.
Neuro-linguistic Programming submodalities become more important when we try to change them, and see how the alteration brings a positive change in our lives. An event of the past exists in the history. Our current response is not to the event in the history, but its memory that lingers in our mind. We cannot change what has happened in the past, but we can change the internal representation of the memory and how we perceive it today.
Changing the Perception of Memory
We can change the perception of a memory by changing the meaning of its internal Neuro-linguistic representation. We also change the structure of the submodality within the internal representation using Neuro-linguistic training.. We can also make a perceptual shift using reframing with words, and cross mapping with submodalities. We need to move to the desired state at a higher-level frame so that a positive change can occur and be maintained.
For example, create an image of a stimulus that makes you angry. Observe the details of the picture as in its color, dimension, perception, panorama, motion, distance, brightness and focus. Think of a stimulus that makes you calm and peaceful. Observe all the details of this image as well. We can then compare the two pictures and notice the differences. This is known as contrastive analysis, and is used to identify and explore the differences between submodalities of contrasting basic emotions, such as anger and peacefulness.
According to Neuro-linguistic training, the next step after identifying the differences in the images is to try to take the picture depicting angry state and try to changes its submodality differences into that of the peaceful state. For example, if the angry state image is in black and white, while the peaceful state is in color, then try to change the angry image into color. By changing the angry state submodalities into peaceful state submodalities, you will begin to feel more peaceful in the angry state. The anger state will have more calm, positive and gentle attributes to it. Although the content of the image is still the same, simply changing the submodalities can bring about huge differences in attitude and emotions.
It is easy to change anger state to a peaceful state, when the anger is at the primary level. However, when anger is given too much important, it is converted into a meta-level state, which could be higher than the peaceful state. In this case, it is difficult to bring down or change the anger state to a peaceful state using simple cross mapping of submodalities. In this case, it is important to question the purpose of anger from an even higher Meta level state, such as a spirituality state. When the primary reason behind anger is questioned and resolved, the anger state can be diminished and removed from its Meta level. This can be learned using Neuro-linguistic courses.
The Change of Images
The method of changing Neuro-linguistic Programming submodalities of one image into those of another image is known as submodality mapping across. Sometimes changing or mapping one submodality will change a few other submodalities as well, resulting in a quicker conversion from the undesirable state to a desired one. According to Neuro-linguistic training, this specific submodality is known as critical submodality or driver submodality. It is specific to every person, and by identifying this driver submodality, you can make a faster change in between the states. Drivers are very useful for changing states rapidly, and must be identified using contrastive analysis on different types of experiences.
According to Neuro-linguistic training, our beliefs are key elements for determining our behavior, by telling the mind what is true and what is not. If a person believes he can accomplish a task, he definitely will. As per Neuro-linguistic courses, a belief is a generalization of our different experiences, and their internal relationships and meanings. For example if we fail at a task, we might start believing that we will always fail at it, and because of the belief we most certainly will.
In medical world, doctors have started using belief for recovery. Cancer patients can be made to believe that a treatment will work for them, and even terminal patients can live longer or can be completely cured. The generalization made here is from the treatment given to the physiological cure using submodalities, neuro transmitters and immune system. Our internal representation structure and submodality differences are the reason our brain believes in some things and disbelieves other things.
For example in the placebo effect, the patient is given a non-active drug, generally a vitamin or sugar pill. The patient is unaware that the pill is non-active and believes that it is the proper treatment for his ailment. Astonishingly about 33% of the times, the patient receiving the placebo is cured. Sometimes the percentage can be even more.
Thus, beliefs play an important role in our lives, our behavior and health. Most of our beliefs are instilled during our childhood, and are known as core beliefs. By changing old beliefs that are no longer useful using submodalities, we can make more positive and productive changes in our life. This can be done by undergoing Neuro-linguistic courses.
Understanding submodalities is therefore an essential part of Neuro-linguistic programming. The concept of submodalities explains how we code our experiences using different aspects of our senses.