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  • Fe Robinson

Changing the way you perceive an experience to change your response

I’ve been reminded several times in recent weeks of the power of working with the structure of the way we ‘hold’ experiences, rather than working with the content of the story people are telling themselves. In neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) we call this working with submodalities. Submodalities is a technical sounding term which just refers to working with our five senses (or modalities) - our sight, sound, touch, smell and taste, and the distinctions we make within them.

To get what I mean, try this. Make a picture in your mind of where you live - the outside of the building. Where around you do you see the picture? In front? To the side of you? High up? At eye level? How big is the picture? How close to you is it? Is it in colour or black and white? Does it move or is it still? It is framed or panoramic? Is it in focus or is it fuzzy? All of these are visual submodalities. The cool thing is that they are all things you can change, and as you change them, your experience changes too.

Sometimes when we think of an unpleasant experience, or something we are worried about, it might bring up a picture that is disturbing simply because of its submodalities. It might be really big. Or towering over you. Or in vivid colours. Changing the submodalities can change the experience. You might reduce its size. Or move it further away from you. Or turn it black and white. Or zoom in or zoom out the focus. Etc etc. Equally, you might change the submodalities of an experience you are anticipating to make them more compelling. It’s not all about negative stuff, this is a tool you can use for yourself with anything you like. Just be careful not to use it with others without training, and informed permission, because shifting submodalities works and therefore needs to be used responsibly.

We have a lot more control over our internal experience than we imagine. For help in discovering more about how you structure your experience, and to build your flexibility, reach out to an NLP professional.


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