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What are submodalities?

Submodalities refer to the various qualities our thoughts and feelings take on. In NLP, we learn that people process information through their five senses, three of which get more attention: seeing, hearing and feeling. Each of these is referred to as a modality, i.e the visual modality.

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.

When we think in pictures or sounds, or experience feelings, those inner picture’s sounds and feelings have specific qualities that we call submodalities, the sub-components of each modality. When you become aware of submodalities, you suddenly have more choice about how your inner experience is structured.

For example, if the internal image you see representing a “big, overwhelming problem” is actually a very large image (size being a common visual submodality) you can “shrink” the image in your mind. When you see the same problem in a much smaller size, it may reduce the sense of feeling overwhelmed.

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.

The main use of submodality patterns is for changing states. By changing the

submodalities you change the structure of an internal representation. If you change the

structure, the meaning of that representation changes for the client.

Submodality interventions are very powerful and they are an excellent way for you to be

able to help the people you work with to create more choice in their lives.

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