From the Empowerment Partnership:

NLP Submodalities “…are distinctions (or subsets) that are part of each representational system that encode and give meaning to our experiences. E.G.: A picture may be in black and white or color, may be a movie or a still, may be focused or defocused – these are visual submodalities.”

When we think of anything, we think in terms of pictures.  The NLP submodalities are the characteristics of that picture!

NLP Submodalities use the basic language of our mind (visual thoughts) to change the way we perceive thoughts, ideas and memories.  Through changing the submodalities, we are able to change what our thoughts mean which in turn, changes how we feel about those thoughts.

NLP Submodalities are only the characteristics of our perception on the idea, it is not the idea itself. For example: auditory submodality may be the direction or intensity of it – not what it is.

Submodalities help paint the picture in your head until it is most intense for you!

NLP Techniques Using Submodalities:

  • Contrastive Analysis
    • Comparing your perception on two different “ideas”
  • Mapping Across (Like to Dislike)
    • Go from liking a food or drink to thinking it is disgusting
  • Swish Pattern
    • Change your behaviors by breaking a bad habit and replacing it with a good habit
  • Dissociative Techniques
    • Change the feelings on your memories so they are not negative when you think about them
    • Eliminate Phobias
  • Perceptual Patterns
    • Great for the visualization technique in goal-setting


  • Black & White or Color
  • Near or Far
  • Bright or Dim
  • Location
  • Size of Picture
  • Associated/Disassociated
  • Focused or Defocused
  • Focus (Changing or Steady)
  • Framed or Panoramic
  • Movie or Still


  • Location
  • Direction
  • Internal or External
  • Loud or Soft


  • Location
  • Size
  • Shape
  • Intensity 1-10

What do you want to change in your life?

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