Submodalities are the fine distinctions we make within each representational system. They help us remember what we have seen, heard, felt, smelt and tasted both externally and imagined. For instance, we are more likely to remember a large bright picture than a small dull one.
They are the smallest building blocks of our thoughts. This is because we code our memory of sensory experience using these building blocks. This is the way our brain tells us something is important or not or somewhere in between.
Some have called them the barcodes of our reality. Michael Hall says they are actually “meta” to our codings rather than “sub” in that they qualify them. He says that a colorful picture adds information or meaning to the basic picture. Steve Andreas disagrees with Michael and says a bright picture is a subcategory of pictures.
What is important is that changing a submodality can give us control over our internal experience. They are one of the ways to add flexibility to our thinking.
When we change the coding in our thinking, we are changing the meaning. When the meaning changes, our State changes. When our state changes our responses change. Our state determines our behavior. When we do different things, we can change our reality and our personal world.
Examples of submodality distinctions
brightness, size, color/black and white, shape, location, distance, contrast, focus, clarity, movement, speed, three-dimensional/flat, perspective, associated/disassociated, framed/panoramic, orientation, density, transparency.
pitch, tempo, volume, rhythm, timbre, digital, duration, clarity, location, distance
pressure, location, frequency, texture, temperature, intensity, vibration
Olfactory and gustatory:
the fading in and out (changes in intensity and/or duration) of particular tastes or smells that you identify as relevant in someone’s experience can be quite useful. Odors and tastes are very powerful anchors for States.
The main use of submodality patterns is for changing states. Mastery of Association Dissociation Submodality in particular is a vital NLP skill.
NLP submodality techniques
A number of NLP techniques make use of submodalities
- Mapping Across – an NLP technique using submodalities
- NLP Swish – Change is easy.
- The Compulsion Blowout patterns — threshold, ratchet, and push.
- The Godiva chocolate pattern.
- The ecstasy pattern.
- Laugh till you drop.
- TOTE strategies.
- Time Line Therapy to Create a Brighter Future
- Association Dissociation
- The NLP Phobia Treatment pattern (or phobia cure)
Futher Reading: Submodalities Going Meta by L. Michael Hall