NLP Submodalities

How we make the fine distinctions to give meaning to the experience. Our mental pictures, sounds and feelings all have certain qualities.  These qualities are the submodalities.

Submodalities code our experience of reality, certainty and time. Changing submodalities allows us to change the meaning of our experience.

You can find guided instruction and practical examples to aid your learning on NLP submodalities in our NLP online training.

Modalities – Sight, sound, feeling, tastes, smells.

Submodalities –  eg Bright, Dull, Loud, Soft, Vibrating, Steady.

Every thing that we experience within our mind or body can be described in terms of the things that we see, hear, feel, smell and taste; our five senses or representational systems. These representational systems are our input channels and can be referred to as modalities. Human beings, as well as being complex nano-particle based universal quantum mechanical devices are intrinsically sentient, universal beings and are certainly capable of making astounding distinctions in the qualities of their assimilated subjective experiences. Indeed the activity of comparing individual personal experience with those of others is one of the most interesting, insightful and fascinating aspects of practising NLP.

The sheer richness and diversity of interpreted individual fine distinctions available to us as human beings demands that our sensory input channels are able to facilitate for an incredible amount of fine data; thus the modalities are comprised of smaller sub-components, or sub-sets which are known as sub modalities.


Critical Submodalities

Changing some submodalities makes little or no difference to our internal representation. Others make a big difference, these are the Critical Submodalities. Eg bigger and brighter.

If we are wishing to change the way that we feel in a certain recurring situation, we can adjust the submodilities associated with that experience.  Changing the critical submodalities associated with the experience will make the biggest difference to the way that we feel about it. Eg Changing from procrastination to motivation.


Driver Submodalities

The most critical submodality in a given context; changing it automatically changes many other submodalities and ‘drives’ the response. It is unique for each individual and internal representation.


Example Submodalities




  • Location
  • Direction
  • Internal or External
  • Loud or Soft
  • Fast or Slow
  • Tonality



  • Location
  • Size
  • Shape
  • Intensity
  • Steady
  • Vibration


Creating s compelling future

Describe how to create a compelling future.

  • Pick one of your goals.  The goal can be one you intend to accomplish over any time frame.
  • With your eyes closed or open develop a picture in your head of you having achieved this goal. It will help if you look with your eyes to the right. Once you have a picture, turn it into a movie that depicts you in the act of having achieved the goal.
  • See the movie in first person, as though from your own eyes when you are experiencing it. What can you see? What is happening? What are you wearing? What is the weather like? Work on making the image as detailed as possible. Is there anyone with you? What are they wearing? Try to get a really intricate movie rolling.
  • Next fiddle around with the Submodalities. Make the pictures of the movie very big and very close to you in your minds eye. Make the colours extremely bright and vibrant.
  • Increase the pictures borders out to include more detail. You should notice that the more detailed your picture gets, the more intensely you start to feel the feelings you associate to having achieved this goal.
  • Now it’s time to move onto your audible modalities. What can you hear as you are achieving this goal? How loud are the sounds?
  • Make the sounds as detailed as possible too. Can you hear any noises in the background like birds chirping or a car driving past?
  • Again fiddle with the Submodalities now. Make the sounds louder and more clear, like you would hear them if you were actually there. We are trying to create the experience of what it will be like when (not if, WHEN) you are actually there.
  • Now move to your kinesthetic modalities, things you will actually FEEL as you are experiencing achieving your goal. Is there a breeze blowing that you can feel on your face? Are you touching anything or anyone? Can you feel the warmth of the sun on your skin? Whatever it is, feel the feelings you would feel. Make them feel as real as possible in your mind.
  •  Finally try to think what you would be thinking at the time? What would you be thinking and feeling mentally as you achieve your goal? Maybe an excitement that it’s finally happened? Maybe a sense of accomplishment? Perhaps anticipation? Maybe you feel a sense of freedom or happiness or fulfillment? Whatever it is, let the you in the movie think and feel those same feelings.
  • This is as close as you can possibly be to actually achieving your goal. You should be now thinking, hearing, seeing, and touching everything as you would if you were actually there having it happen.
  • Test and Future Pace.


Confusion to understanding pattern (using submodality techniques)

We might use a confusion pattern if we wanted to create an environment for change and we would employ an understanding pattern when we want to understand something.



Belief Change pattern

Used to change limiting beliefs.

  • Find a limiting belief that you do not wish to have. Get a picture. Elicit Submodalities (1)
  • Get a belief that is no longer true for you. Eg Used to be a smoker. Get a picture. Elicit Submodalities. Location should be different (2)
  • Change submodalities of 1 to 2
  • Test
  • Get a belief that is absolutely true to you. Get a picture. Elicit submodalities (3)
  • Get a belief that you want to have instead. Get a picture. Elicit submodalities (4)
  • Change submodalites of 4 to 3
  • Test
  • Future Pace