Submodalities are, qualities of an experience, often defined in NLP as "the difference that makes the difference". Rather than ascribing you the vague explanation, we will alternatively use some metaphors for a clear understanding of the same.
I love my watch! I have had the watch for nearly six years now and I am still so much in love with it. Its like I bought it yesterday! I remember buying it from a big showroom in Kolkata,(by the time I was in junior college watches and sunglasses, i guess, had transcended their actual intended use and become matter of great luxury) human race, at least a part of it, not excluding me, had rediscovered these accessories as something parallel to jewelry! It was by far one of the cheapest watches they had though. I remember the cold look the attendant gave me and why not? After having shown me the best of their collections of the new gold studded and diamond embedded collections and spending about fourty minutes, i chose a watch that wasn't worth all that efforts he put in. I had actually fixed my mind on the watch the moment i saw it, about five minutes after i had entered the shop. But, you know, old habits! I loved pranks. I just loved that priceless look he gave me. To me, it was worth the effort.
So, what is so special about this watch? You see, it's a very regular watch with some very irregular features. Apart, from the fact that it seemed to be the only one that looked somewhat like a watch and not a hammer head on my hand(I mean it fit my hand and it was light in weight), this watch had some madness about it when I saw it. A shiny metal body with sharp creases cut on the top near the dial, giving it a rough look; the dial was made in a very detailed way with sharp work of black against a white background with a hint of green in some letters; the arms were metallic with white engraves and the seconds arm was green and sleek. The dial indicated minutes reading instead of the regular hours reading and that, along with another key feature, was the main catch of this masterpiece!
The Crown of the watch,( used for setting the hands to the right time and for correcting the calendar indications ) which in 99.99 percent cases is near the 3'o Clock or 15th minute reading, in this watch, was near the 4'o Clock or 20th minute reading. This, combined with the minute readings, easily deceived any one looking at it the first time. Most people, going by traditional conditioning , look at a watch spatially relating the crown position to 3'o Clock. And the detailed creases on the body of my watch had so much data that you are most likely to get involved and miss the catch. It is sheer genius and remarkable craftsmanship. So, if you were to bump in to me and end up asking the time, rest assured.. you will be an hour late! I can not explain in words how much fun I have had in six years just looking at people getting confused when they ask me for the time!
So why am I going on about my watch and its details? What has this to do with submodalities? Well, for me, this is submodalities at their best!
For our understanding, the time and date in both are the same. Considering that we are only concerned date and time i.e the actual content, what's the difference, in your experience, when you look at the two? What differently do you feel when you look at them? After all the main content of the watches i.e time and date are the same. So what is different? In NLP we call this as ' The difference that makes the difference'. Not just one but a whole set of differences which are the most fundamental and key elements that constitute your experiences at any given time.
Our mind is like the hardware that gets to run certain kinds of software. Think of your mind as the watch. In order to show time and date i.e run certain habits or behaviours (programs), you need the smaller parts like the gears, springs, hands i.e codes that make those habits, behaviours or programs work (submodalities). That means that if one program runs a particular way and is structured in a particular way, there must be a logical reason for their function. For instance, if happiness is always pictured as bright and colorful, it must mean that anytime a picture is made bright and colorful, you will become happy.
Modality in NLP refers to our internal representations or the representational system, which relate to the five basic senses (Visual , Auditory , Kinesthetic , Olfactory , and Gustatory ) along with our internal dialogue.
In NLP a submodality is a distinction of form or structure (rather than content ) within a sensory representational system(modality). Submodalities refers to the subjective(varies from person to person) structural subdivisions within a given sensory representational system.
The concept of submodalities arose in the field of neuro-linguistic programming, explaining that human beings 'code' internal experiences using aspects of their different senses. We have five basic senses: visual, auditory, kinaesthetic , olfactory and gustatory. In NLP, these are referred to as representational systems or modalities. For each of these modalities, we can have finer distinctions. These finer distinctions are called submodalities and define the qualities of our internal representations. For example, regardless of the content, both external and mental images of any kind will be either colored or monochrome, and stationary or moving. These parameters are submodalities within the visual sense i.e these are visual submodalities. We could describe a picture as being black and white or colour, or it could also be bright or dim. In visual terms, common distinctions include: brightness, degree of colour (saturation), size, distance, sharpness, focus, and so on Similarly, both remembered and actual sounds will be mono or stereo when experienced internally, so mono/stereo is a submodality of sound or auditory submodalities. Sounds could be loud or soft, or coming from a particular direction. Other auditory submodalities can be loudness, pitch, tonal range, distance, clarity, timbre, and so on.
Feelings could be in different parts of the body or have different temperatures. Smells could be pleasant or offensive, strong or light. Taste could be sweet or bitter or strong or mild.
Generally, we work with only three modalities -- visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. However, you be working with a client on an issue where the olfactory or gustatory submodalities play a major role e.g. a food issue or someone who is a chef. People have known about and worked with submodalities for centuries. For example, Aristotle referred to qualities of the senses, but did not use the term submodalities.
Each person's brain seems to code emotional significance differently through variations in mental "image" or representation. For example with some people their unconscious minds place black borders around bad memories, for some people visual images seen dimly are less compelling than those seen brightly, for some people a subjectively "good" memory is accompanied by one kind of sound whilst a "bad" memory is accompanied by another, and so on. Again, these are subjective experiences.
For most people, there will be a handful of such distinctions which are 'critical' to emotional perception, and thus to their mental processing. For example, these might be submodalities that distinguish optimistic thoughts from depressive ones, or which distinguish compelling and important thoughts from less compelling ones. For any given individual, a submodality that turns out to be critical in how a given memory or thought is subjectively experienced, is known as a critical submodality .
For most people, research within NLP states that the brain often uses these structural elements as a way to 'know' how it feels about them, and what they signify internally. The link is stated to be bilateral - that is, emotions attached to a mental experience are affected by certain submodalities with which it is associated , and specific submodalities can also be affected if the emotional significance changes. The discovery that the emotion associated with a thought is often functionally linked to the submodalities with which that thought is presented to consciousness, led to a variety of brief therapy NLP interventions based upon change of these key submodalities. In effect, voluntary change of submodalities on the part of the subject was often found to alter long-term the concomitant 'feeling' response, paving the way for a number of change techniques based on deliberately changing internal representations.
NLP co-originator Richard Bandler in particular has made extensive use of submodality manipulations in the evolution of his work. NLP techniques widely use submodalities as an integral part in Trauma States, Swish Pattern, Negotiation(Agreement Frames) in Parts Integration to name a few.
Often, when I want to cheer my self up a notch in a conversation, I look at my watch a couple of times. It helps me trigger my child like excited state. Certainly, there is a bit of anchoring in that too. The others in the conversation might think I am in a hurry though and sometimes that gets work done faster too. Well, whatever works!
And lastly, why have I named this article "The Green Excellence"? Green has always been a key colour of nature, to me it signifies simplicity, courage and love. So, here is my secret. Every time I dream of the future…………. I see an auditorium filled with people…………………………………hands in hands…………….loving human beings supporting each other, one with nature;………. I see my happy and proud family…………………. everyone cheering in joy and celebrating life…………….. and just when I am overwhelmed i turn up the lights in that vision………………….raise the volume of the cheers…………..increase the breeze a little more……and finally……….paint the background of this entire movie, Green! And in that instant I am extatic and I know I am chasing and living more excellence everyday. This is what has kept me going for many years in good and hard times. And whenever I walk in to a place with a little or lots of green around, I know I am living my vision! What are you doing with the colours in your experiences? Will hearing something else or seeing something else change these experiences? Where is this feeling that you are feeling right now?…..
What kind of time are you having, living your life the way you are? What time is it right now? Is it a good time or a bad time? Or is it just the watch that is giving you the creeps? You never know, sometimes changing that watch will change your life!!