Change Your Mind–And Keep the Change: Advanced NLP Submodalities Interventions

by Connirae Andreas and Steve Andreas

This advanced NLP book builds on the foundation established in Heart of the Mind, by the Andreases, and Using Your Brain–for a CHANGE, by Richard Bandler. Presented in “live seminar” format, this book offers rich information and specific examples of how to work successfully in helping people change. Specific methods are presented for changing habits, for congruently finally saying “no” when that is appropriate, eliminating compulsions, building self-concept, becoming more self-referenced and less vulnerable to others’ opinions, utilization of timelines and time frames for planning and motivation, shifting the relative importance of criteria/values, and much more.

EXCERPT: Time Orientation

Let’s talk a little bit more about past-, present-, and future-oriented people, and how their orientations relate to their time sorts. For example, one person that I worked with had the past right behind her, the present directly in front of her, and the future going out ahead. Now, what kind of person was she with respect to time? If you try on that timeline, what will your orientation be?

Al: I’m not sure. It’s confusing.

Well, can you see the future?

Al: No, not really.

Not unless your pictures are transparent, and hers weren’t! If the present is right in front of you and the immediate future is behind that, so you can’t see it, what is your time orientation?

Sally: Present.

Right, and for her it was the immediate present. When she said “right now,” she really meant right now–this split second! Five minutes from now would be in the future for her. She had a very narrow sense of the present.

Now try this out. What if your future goes off to your right at an angle, so you can see most of what’s in each picture, and it gets bigger and brighter as it goes forward in time? The far future will be more important for you. You would tend to live for the far future, and respond less to the present and past.

If the near future or the present were bigger and brighter than the far future, you might experience difficulty with long-range planning or thinking about the consequences of your behavior, but be very good at planning immediate future events. Investigating your timeline can often give you some clues about how to change it in a useful way.

Carol: I started out being very present-oriented. My present was big, bright, and close, and both future and past were small and dim. We changed it so that I could keep all that wonderfulness of the present, but move some of that brightness into the next several weeks also, so that I’d respond more to the immediate future and get more done.

That sounds like a useful change. Here’s another timeline you can all try out. One man had his past on a line straight in front of him. His future went way off to the right. You know the phrase, “My past flashed in front of my eyes?” This man lived that way all the time. What does that do to your experience? It certainly focuses your attention on the past. Depending upon whether your past was wonderful or horrible, you might like it or not, but you wouldn’t pay much attention to the present or future. This is the kind of person for whom using the Change Personal History pattern will be very impactful, because he responds so strongly to representations of the past.

Carl: I’ve noticed that in certain circumstances I can focus a lot on the past. My past was right up here in front of me. So I just moved it over there to my left, and went, “Beep. Bang!” and slammed the door.

And how does that work for you?

Carl: Well, I don’t know yet.

If you now take this new timeline into future situations, you can get a good idea of how it will work, and if any adjustments need to be made. The ideal is to have some flexibility with your timeline–to be able to move the past where you can see it when that’s useful, and move it out of the way when you want to be more present- or future-oriented.

I think you are all getting the idea that in general, whatever is right in front of you and noticeable–big and bright, colorful, etc.–will be most compelling and you will pay most attention to it.

Fred: I’m interested in hearing about some useful timelines.

Well, the question is always “Useful for what purpose?” or “Useful for whom?” You’re getting a sense of what the possibilities are. Let me tell you some fairly standard ones. Most people have some kind of gentle, open curve, the way Linda has. The past is usually a line off to the left, the present right in front of you, and the future in a line to the right. Images may be stacked behind one another, but they’re usually offset or arranged at an angle, so that part of each successive picture is visible.

Deciding whether a timeline is useful or not depends on what your personal outcomes are, and what’s ecological for you. Saying “this is the right timeline” is like saying “this is the right way to be, and there are no other useful ways to live in the world.” A person’s timeline can make him unique. But if it gets him into trouble in certain situations, or if a different timeline would allow him to do things that he can’t now do with his own, then it might be appropriate to explore alternatives, at least for specific contexts.

Timeline Spacing

It’s often useful to find someone you think is very capable and skilled, investigate how she sorts time, and try it out. For example, people who are good long-range planners tend to have the future close in front of them rather than off to the side. We know a man who teaches business people long-range planning, and he’s very good at it. He has both his five-year and his ten-year plans right there in front of him, very detailed, and quite close. Ten years is only about two feet away. That works fine for him, and he really likes it, but when I try it, the future seems to press in on me too much. I want the future a little bit farther away and less detailed, so that I have more room to move in the present.

What difference might it make in a person’s life if his future timeline is really e-x-p-a-n-d-e-d instead of compressed, like that of the long-range planner I just mentioned? Try putting tomorrow halfway across the room, next week down the hall, and next month so far away on the horizon that it’s barely visible. What might be the behavioral consequences of having such an “expanded” timeline?

Anne: I wouldn’t be very motivated to do something that was way out there someplace! I’d feel as if I had a lot of time to kill before getting around to it.
Mike: How true! When I was writing my dissertation, finishing it was quite a way off in the future. There was lots of room to add other projects between the present and the completion date of my dissertation, so I kept taking on new jobs and putting off the dissertation. When I finally realized what was happening, I “reeled in” the deadline until it was so close to the present that there wasn’t enough room to add anything in between. Any new projects had to get added on after the dissertation was done.
Nice! That’s a good illustration of how compressing a timeline can help someone meet deadlines.

Lars: I think I need to do the opposite. My future is all bunched up close, and I always feel like the future is pressing in on me. When I spread it out a little more, I feel much more relaxed.

You look as if that might lower your blood pressure 30 points. Let’s check carefully for ecology, though. Imagine taking this new spread-out timeline with you through the next day . . . and the next week . . . Can you still get the things done you want to get done? Or are you too “laid back”?

Lars: No, not at all. In fact I think I can plan and schedule better. Before, my future was so bunched up that I couldn’t really see it to plan very well.

That sounds good. We’ve also noticed that for some people, having a long-range future that is filled with big bright goals literally gives them “something to live for” and they’re more apt to stay alive! One study on cancer patients found that survivors are apt to be future-oriented, whereas non-survivors are past-oriented.

Bob: I used to be much more future-oriented than I am now. In the past couple of years I’ve slowed down, and my future seems to be less clear than the way it was before. There are obviously advantages and disadvantages.

Absolutely. If you are too fixated on the future, you may not be taking care of things in the present. You may not notice that you’re having a lousy time now, and that your family’s having a lousy time, too. On the other hand, if all your attention is on having fun in the present, you won’t notice the future consequences, and your future won’t be as enjoyable as it could be. Depending on the consequences you ignore, it could be a lot shorter, too!

TOC: Timelines
Utilizing Time
The Swish Pattern
Shifting the Importance of Criteria
Eliminating Compulsions
“The Last Straw” Threshold Pattern
Internal/External Reference
A Strategy for Responding to Criticism
Accessing Kinesthetic States
Other Submodality Interventions

Foreword, by Richard Bandler
Steve and Connirae Andreas came to their first NLP seminar with me in fall of 1977, nearly ten years ago. Since then they have consistently demonstrated their tenacity in taking the patterns I teach and using them repeatedly until they understand them thoroughly. Chapter 3 on The Swish Pattern demonstrates how they can take a specific pattern and then explore it thoroughly to determine the essential pieces that make it work, as well as how to adapt the pattern to unusual or difficult cases.

Most of my students tell me about their successes with the patterns I teach. In contrast, Connirae and Steve tell me about their failures, because those are much more interesting to them. Successes are boring, because they only confirm what you already know. Failures are much more interesting, because they indicate where you can learn something new. Their fascination with the variety of subjective experience, and the regularities that underlie that variety, shows in the quality of the NLP trainings they have been offering over the last eight years. Their teaching is widely-known for its integrity, ecology, attention to detail, and this is also clearly reflected in this book.

Most NLP students are content if they master the patterns that have already been developed. One of my greatest pleasures is having someone learn not only the specific patterns that I teach, but the perceptions, attitudes, and thinking processes that create those patterns. Steve and Connirae are among the few who have gone on to use NLP modeling techniques to develop useful new patterns, and this, too, is evident in this book. Chapter 8, “A Strategy for Responding to Criticism,” demonstrates their ability to model an essential skill–openness to feedback–and distill it into a clean and elegant syntax.

This book is an excellent sequel to my book Using Your Brain-for a CHANGE, which the Andreases created from audiotapes of my seminars, and it is my pleasure to recommend this book to anyone who wants to further explore how to change your mind.

AUTHOR BIOS: Steve Andreas, M.A. and Connirae Andreas, Ph.D. are internationally-known trainers and researchers in NLP. They also authored Heart of the Mind, an excellent introduction to NLP, and edited four of the best-known NLP books by the original co-developers of NLP, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, including Frogs into Princes. Connirae is author of Core Transformation, a breakthrough book that goes to the spiritual level, and Steve is author of Virginia Satir: Patterns of her Magic. They also created NLP Comprehensive, to provide NLP products, training seminars, and certification programs. They live with their three teenage sons in Boulder, Colorado.

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: (from the Introduction) We have presented the patterns in this book as explicitly and systematically as we can, in order to make it easy for you to learn them. Like a road map, these directions will only be useful if you take the time to actually follow them, and use your senses to experience the actual territory that they lead you to. We have presented them in great detail, and warned you about all the mistakes we and others have made with them, to make it hard for you to use them inappropriately. Once you have taken the time to learn these methods thoroughly, you can become more flexible and artistic in utilizing them with clients, with confidence that your behavior will remain systematic and effective.

Many people accuse NLP of being technological, with the implication that it is cold and unfeeling. However, those same people are happy to use the technology of central heating to help their houses warm, instead of the smoky fire used by their ancestors. They also use antibiotics and immunization to keep their children healthy without thinking about the incredibly complex technology behind it.

Months of warm feelings won’t help a child who is a poor speller, or release him from the resulting ridicule, feelings of failure and self-criticism; an hour or two of NLP technology can teach him how to spell and provide him with a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. All the empathy in the world won’t help a phobic; a half-hour of NLP technology can release her from a life punctuated with terror. Holding the hand of a dying friend may ease his passing; appropriate medical technology may save his life.

Of course any technology can be misused by delivering it in a cold, unfeeling way. We have listened to nurses whose “bedside manner” must have been learned from a tape recording of Lucretia Borgia, and therapists who speak in the tonality of Adolph Hitler. This book is more technological than most, because we know that detailed technology gets results, and that the “coldest” technology can be delivered with humanity and respect.

We learned much of the material in this book directly from Richard Bandler in a small seminar in early 1984. In that seminar he taught us a number of specific patterns, most of which are included in this book. But more important, he demonstrated the tools of the trade: how to use fine distinctions, specific questions, and procedures for further exploration and discovery. Richard also often demonstrated without explaining, described events cryptically, or dropped tantalizing hints. Although this was often frustrating, it also whetted our curiosity and motivated us to explore further. Since then, we have been using the tools he taught us to follow up some of those tantalizing hints and develop specific patterns in sufficient detail that they can be more easily learned by others.

For over three years now we have been teaching this material in our Advanced Submodality Trainings. Much of this book has been edited from transcripts drawn from many different trainings. These segments have been woven together and presented as if they occurred in one training, both for your ease in reading, and to retain the conversational style and format of the live teaching. Other parts we have written without referring to tapes of transcripts. Most of the time we do not indicate which of us is speaking; after months of editing by both of us, we often don’t know, and it doesn’t matter anyway. We do identify ourselves in transcripts of demonstrations which are also available on videotape.

In many ways, this book is a continuation of Richard Bandler’s book, Using Your Brain–for a CHANGE, which we edited two years ago. As we were writing this book we have presupposed that readers will have read Using Your Brain, and will have a background understanding of basic submodality patterns. If you don’t have that background, we strongly recommend that you acquire it before reading this book, in order to get full value from the patterns in this book.

We also strongly recommend that you read the chapters in this book in order. Sequence, or syntax, of experience is a major organizing principle in NLP, and the sequence of chapters in this book has been carefully thought out. Many of the later chapters presuppose that ;you have already read and understood earlier chapters. If you read a later chapter without the background provided by earlier chapters and Using Your Brain, it will be more difficult for you to understand the material completely and thoroughly.

There is an old joke about the human brain being “the only self-maintaining all-purpose computer that can be created by unskilled labor.” However, it’s also a computer without an owner’s manual. The patterns developed by NLP are essentially human “software”–ways to organize your experience that can be learned, a cultural/social resource, like all the other products of human creativity and inventiveness. The material we present here explores the mental patterning that makes us who we are, and provide tools that you can use to quickly change how you respond. This book joins over 30 NLP books that have been published since the first one was published by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in 1975. And this is only the beginning . . .