NLP Submodalities and How to Use Them

Filed Under (NLP life coaching) on 01-07-2015

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How to use NLP submodalitiesin daily situations was the central theme of coaching  a man I worked with.  So what are NLP submodalities? And how can you use them in daily situations?

NLP submodalities are the little things that make the difference

The brain uniquely codes every experience using the 5 senses. The NLP jargon for the 5 senses is modalities because the 5 senses are our modes of experiencing.  There are finer discriminations within each sensory system.  Every picture, sound, feeling, smell, and taste has content and structure.  The structure furthermore consists of finer qualities.  Those finer qualities are known in NLP as submodalities. Some submodalities have qualities which are analogue [=gradually changeable], such as brightness or loudness. Others have qualities which are digital [=either/or], such as still or moving.

It certainly feels liberating when we suddenly realize that we can do something other than pumping the body with caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or drugs to blunten pain or other uncomfortable signals from the body and intuition.  Of course, every signal is a message that I sincerely advise that you acknowledge instead of suppress, but things like ringing in the ears often become a cohabit if we don’t do anything about them.  Now you can do something about them instantly and above all, free of charge!

So here is how you can use submodalities in daily situations:

  • do you have trouble getting up?

What’s the first thing you are aware of when you wake up?  Is it warm or cold?  Light or dark?  Loud or quiet?  Sharp or fuzzy?  Near or far?  Heavy or light?  Black and white or colourful?  When you know what you’re first aware of, you can play with it. Change each element to the opposite to see if it feels better.  If it is warm, change it to cold, etc. And why stop there?  The opposite may be equally uncomfortable!  So you can adjust your submodality on a scale of 1 to 5 to the degree that is best.  If cold was as uncomfortable as warm, change it to degree 2, 3, or 4 and see what feels best. Once you find the most disrupting submodalities, change them to the most comfortable levels.  You will start getting up easily!

  • do you suffer from headaches or other aches?

You can beautifully explore the submodalities of pain!  You’ll see how below.

  • do you have ringing or buzzing in the ears?

How loud is it?  Where is it?  In your ears?  Behind them?  Higher in the head?  Where exactly? Now imagine a sound system with round knobs for turning.  Pick a knob for volume.  Grab it and listen to the ringing / buzzing in your ears [or where?].  As you listen, imagine that you’re turning the volume knob down a fraction.  Did the buzzing become quieter?  Turn the knob down another fraction.  What’s that like?  Better?  Keep turning fraction by fraction and observe what happens.

The NLP submodalities of breathing

  • Put your hand on the chest and observe your breathing.  Does the hand move?
  • Similarly, put the hand on the diaphragm.  Does the hand rise and fall with the pattern of your breath?
  • Put the hand on the tummy.  Once you find where you breathe, you’ll have a useful starting point.
  • Is your breathing fast or slow?
  • Likewise, is your breathing deep or shallow?
  • Are your inhales short and exhales long, vice versa, or equal?
  • Do you inhale with the nose and exhale with the mouth, vice versa, both with the nose, or both with the mouth?
  • Do you hear yourself breathing?
  • If yes, do you hear your inhales but not exhales, vice versa, or both?
  • How loud is your breathing?
  • Is it clear or wheezing?

The NLP submodalities of pain

…are useful for diagnosing a problem when you’re assessing whether it’s serious enough to see a doctor. They’ll also help you explain the problem to the doctor, or consider what to do next.

  • Where exactly is the pain located?  Pinpoint it as precisely as possible.
  • How intense [strong] is it from 1 to 5?
  • Is it static or does it move?
  • If it moves, where does the movement start, go, finish?
  • Does the movement have a direction?
  • How does the pain get from the origin to the destination?
  • Is the pain continuous [dull] or intermittent [throbbing]?
  • Does the pain feel heavy, light, or weightless?
  • Or does the pain have pressure?
  • Does the pain feel warm or cold?  How warm or how cold?
  • And does the pain have a sound?
  • Does the pain have a color?  Or do you see all the stars behind your eyelids?

The NLP submodalities of losing small objects

Maybe you often mislay your keys, glasses, or phone and then lose time on looking for them.  Where are the submodalities in that?

  • Firstly, did you take a mental picture of the keys on the surface where you last laid them?
  • If you did, was that picture in color or black and white?
  • How near or far from your face did you see that picture?
  • Did you see it clearly or was it fuzzy?
  • Did you see it right in front of your face, slightly up to the right/left, maybe on the ground, or in a bottom corner of your visual field?
  • Was your mental picture bright or dark?
  • Likewise, was the picture still or moving?

The NLP submodalities of talking to yourself  

Do you talk to yourself? Maybe aloud when no one is around? Or in your head or body without pronouncing the words?  This internal voice can be encouraging, nastily harsh, critical, or cluttering. The insidious thing is that we may not realize it, because it’s so much part of us that we’d never think of examining it, let alone treat our internal voice as the starting point of solving problems! So here are NLP submodalities that will help you pacify a nastily harsh, too critical, or cluttering [overwhelming] internal voice:

  • Where in your head or body is the voice?
  • How loud is it on a scale of 1 to 5?
  • Whose voice is it?  Yours?  Maybe your mother’s?  Partner’s, teacher’s, boss’s, someone else’s?
  • Is this voice high-pitched [shrieking or howling] or low-pitched [deep, resounding, reverberating]?
  • How fast does it speak?
  • Do you hear it in stereo or through one side of your head or body [mono]?
  • What accent does it have?
  • Does it emphasize certain words?
  • Does it sound smooth, rich, guttural, nasal, or grating?


the best benefit of NLP submodalities is that you can work with them anywhere without the world knowing! And you’ll realize that you can indeed control a great deal of the things that happen in your body and head. Did this article open your eyes to things? Maybe even inspire you to want to know more? I can show you what beautiful differences coaching with NLP submdalities can make to you.

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