Book Summaries

Submodalities Going Meta by L. Michael Hall

by L. Michael Hall, Bobby Bodenhamer

Both excellence and the prevention of excellence have structure. We think by representing sights, sounds, sensations as snapshots and movies. We can also edit these to change our states, moods and attitudes.

Check out Sub-modalities Going Meta: Cinematic Frames for Semantic Magic at Amazon

The difference between genius and others lays in the distinctions they are able to make (submodalities) and their higher-level frames and patterns.

Coding trauma

If an experience still traumatizes us, it is because we have coded it as though it is still happening. Particular features of the movie such as closeness and bright color have come to mean it is still happening and it is a threat. By understanding our personal meanings for our codings, we then have the power to alter how we have coded events.

Dr Hall’s work has found some of the early applications of NLP submodality patterns were not effective. For instance, beliefs, understandings and values typically do not shift with submodality alterations. We need to attend to the frames and meanings of the submodality changes also.

Backgrounding and foregrounding

What is in the foreground of your mind as opposed to the background sets your organizing frame. Foregrounding representations of limitation difficulty and inadequacy can consistently undermine effectiveness.

We can make useful life changes by altering what we typically put in the background. For instance, many people typically foreground their problems. They believe that by focusing on the causes and details of their problems, they will solve them. By shifting to a solution orientation – what do I want, what resources do I need, effectiveness can be markedly improved.

Negating – making things go away

Sometimes we need to eliminate the things that sabotage us. We typically try to stop bad habits and programs by suppressing them, using willpower. This is rarely effective and needs constant vigilance.

Western society has almost outlawed “Negative thinking”. Yet peak performance often comes about through mismatching – paying attention to what others do not notice.

We all have ways of validating and denying. In doubting, we shift back and forth from one belief to another. Many times, we hear a negation and frame it as being controlled or put down.


Beliefs have the power to command our nervous systems. They are energized thought we use to navigate the territory. In believing, we generalize from events. They summarize our experiences and understandings.

  • Beliefs about self – skills, values, dignity
  • Beliefs about others – what makes them tick, what they want, how to relate to them
  • Beliefs about work, play, activities, the world, time, the past, the future, causation, personality, emotions, destiny and health

We can learn and even know things without believing them. Over time, repetition and consistency creates a sense of familiarity that leads to confirmation.

Once we install a belief, it filters what we see and becomes a way of organizing us – “I am the kind of person who”

Transforming limiting beliefs

Disbelief and doubt come from questioning. To make a belief less powerful we can undermine its foundation by questioning. Conversely, we often create self-doubt by questioning our behaviors and attitudes.

The belief change process – maps from unsure to doubt to disbelief.

Linguistic belief change pattern

  1. Write the new belief in effective compelling language
  2. Speak the new belief from a meta position, by future pacing
  3. Repeat daily for 30 days

We can also change other people’s beliefs conversationally with metaphors and reframing, especially the sleight of mouth patterns.

Conviction comes from believing in our beliefs and can become fundamentalism. This can cut off feedback and the ability to update. We need to test all beliefs against reality, usefulness and balance

The Meta-Yes-ing pattern

This pattern changes limiting beliefs and confirms and validates empowering beliefs

  1. Identify a limiting belief and a positive empowering one.
  2. Remember a time when you said no to something and really meant it
  3. Bring that no to a limiting belief
  4. Remember a time when you gave a definitive bold yes
  5. Apply that yes to the new belief
  6. Amplify, reinforce and anchor – make it compelling
  7. Repeat and validate with a congruent big “yes”
  8. Future pace

You can use the Meta-yes pattern conversationally in sales or relationships. For instance, ask the person if they like it. In sales this is known as the “yes set” – getting 7 yeses in a row.

The Structure of understanding

Excelling requires turning chaotic data into organized understanding. We organize our representations and then symbolize the domain by going “Meta”.

Understanding requires finding the pattern that connects, the schema, the relationships, ordering, sequencing and how the information fits together.

Confusion is an opportunity to rearrange experience and organize it in a different way.

Going Meta to understand

  1. Identify the domain you want to understand. You need to identify a specific section, a manageable amount.
  2. What specific knowledge and skills are involved? What are the elements? You need sufficient information to feel confused
  3. What are the organizing principles and metaphors of experts, the high-level formats that hold and categorize
  4. Design your own configuration for structuring the knowledge. You can even try on structures and diagrams from other fields or from someone else’s understanding

Values and valuing

Valuing is attributing importance, meaning, worth and significance. Values play a role in metaprograms, emotions, motivation, congruence, success, mastery and self-control. They identify and determine standards by which we make judgments, decisions and evaluations, and usually show up as nominalizations.

Values are the processes that drive, control, govern and regulate our lives. Every driving metaprograms involves values. We see the world in terms of what we value and do not value. How do you attribute significance? How much intensity do you give the representations – this determines the degree of importance.

Emotions reflect our evaluations. There is no inherent right or wrong in them, they are not accurate indicators of what is out there. They are a rewarding and warning system that summarizes our learning history about pain and pleasure.

Negative emotions provide energy to take effective action. We disvalue what we believe will bring pain, illness, hurt, danger and threat


Motivation grows out of and demonstrates values. Do you have strong reasons or values for moving? Values are the positive intention behind every behavior belief and strategy.

Can you think of a time when you felt highly motivated? The feeling that pushes/motivates usually represents an unconscious value.

Values elicitation process

  1. Think of something greatly important
    • Think of something trivial and unimportant – thoughts in the back of your mind.
    • What is something important to avoid.
    • What is something you feel driven toward, that you must have, that you have no choice about.
    • Think of something you once deemed important but that does not matter now
  2. Do a contrastive analysis. How do you distinguish between things that are important and things that are trivial? What are the submodality distinctions?
  3. Identify meta level structures for important and unimportant

Changing personal history

We use our experiences as a perceptual filter, as a frame to judge, interpret, understand and process things. The majority of our problems occur at a Meta rather than primary level, sensory-based descriptions

Submodality patterns highly affect how we encode our mental movies. They do not necessarily transform the meanings or high-level frames, unless we include these. Problems arise not from experiences but from our meanings, interpretations and the significance we give it. We are troubled by what events mean about our identity, our future, our skills and abilities.

Change history pattern

  1. Identify an incident you’d like to change in your history
  2. Identify one or more resources. What resources or understanding about self or others would have made a positive difference?
  3. Apply the resources to the past event
  4. Grow up the resource to create any memory
  5. Future pace the resource

Inserting resourceful ideas

We think by representing on the inside what we have experienced on the outside. Notice what happens when you stop the movie – typically snapshots become more static, solid, real (unchangeable) and stable. Movement conveys action, progress, change, instability and emotion

In the space between the images, you can insert a new image that transforms everything.

Externalizing and reading submodalities

You can learn to read submodalities in others, by paying attention to eye accessing cues and other physiological signs. For instance, you may notice movements in the jaw/mouth when someone uses words to think.

Can you tell the difference between someone looking at a small picture and a big one? Have someone do each; they may lean forward/backward. Watch people’s gestures, like moving something aside.

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