Using Your Brain — for a CHANGE

by Richard Bandler

DESCRIPTION: This book shows you how you can use Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to change your experiencing by changing aspects of your internal imagery or inner voices or sounds. By changing the size, brightness, distance, color, movement, point of view, etc. of an image, we can change how we respond to it. These elements are called submodalities, and they can be used to change any image, no matter what the content is. Learn how you can be more in control of your own life, and less subject to events around you.

EXCERPT: I’d like you to try some very simple experiments, to teach you a little bit about how you can learn to run your own brain. You will need this experience to understand the rest of this book, so I recommend that you actually do the following brief experiments.

Think of a past experience that was very pleasant–perhaps one that you haven’t thought about in a long time. Pause for a moment to go back to that memory, and be sure that you see what you saw at the time that pleasant event happened. You can close your eyes if that makes it easier to do….

As you look at that pleasant memory, I want you to change the brightness of the image, and notice how your feelings change in response. First make it brighter and brighter….Now make it dimmer and dimmer, until you can barely see it….Now make it brighter again.

How does that change the way you feel? There are always exceptions, but for most of you, when you make the picture brighter, your feelings will become stronger. Increasing brightness usually increases the intensity of feelings, and decreasing brightness usually decreases the intensity of feelings.

How many of you ever thought about the possibility of intentionally varying the brightness of an internal image in order to feel different? Most of you just let your brain randomly show you any picture it wants, and you feel good or bad in response.

Now think of an unpleasant memory, something you think about that makes you feel bad. Now make the picture dimmer and dimmer….If you turn the brightness down far enough, it won’t bother you any more. You can save yourself thousands of dollars in psychotherapy bills.

I learned these things from people who did them already. One woman told me that she was happy all the time; she didn’t let things get to her. I asked her how she did it, and she said “Well, those unpleasant thoughts come into my mind, but I just turn the brightness down.”

Brightness is one of the “submodalities” of the visual modality. Submodalities are universal elements that can be used to change any visual image, no matter what the content is. The auditory and kinesthetic modalities also have submodalities, but for now we’ll play with the visual submodalities.

Brightness is only one of many things you can vary. Before we go on to others, I want to talk about the exceptions to the impact brightness usually has. If you make a picture so bright that it washes out the details and becomes almost white, that will reduce, rather than increase, the intensity of your feelings. Usually the relationship doesn’t hold at the upper extreme. For some people, the relationship is reversed in most contexts, so that increasing brightness decreases the intensity of their feelings.

Some exceptions are related to the content. If your pleasant picture is candlelight, or twilight, or sunset, part of its special charm is due to the dimness; if you brighten the image, your feelings may decrease. On the other hand, if you recalled a time when you were afraid in the dark, the fear may be due to not being able to see what’s there. If you brighten that image and see that there’s nothing there, your fear will decrease, rather than increase. So there are always exceptions, and when you examine them, the exceptions make sense, too. Whatever the relationship is, you can use that information to change your experience.

Now let’s play with another submodality variable. Pick another pleasant memory and vary the size of the picture. First make it bigger and bigger…and then smaller and smaller, noticing how your feelings change in response….

The usual relationship is that a bigger picture intensifies your response, and a smaller picture diminishes it. Again there are exceptions, particularly at the upper end of the scale. When a picture gets very large, it may suddenly seem ridiculous or unreal. Your response may then change in quality instead of intensity–from pleasure to laughter, for instance.

If you change the size of an unpleasant picture, you will probably find that making it smaller also decreases your feelings. If making it really big makes it ridiculous and laughable, then you can also use that to feel better. Try it. Find out what works for you….

It doesn’t matter what the relationship is, as long as you find out how it works for your brain so that you can learn to control your experience. If you think about it, none of this should be at all surprising. People talk about a “dim future” or “bright prospects.” “Everything looks black.” “My mind went blank.” “It’s a small thing, but she blows it all out of proportion.” When someone says something like that, it’s not metaphorical; it’s usually a literal and precise description of what the person is experiencing inside.

If someone is “blowing something out of proportion,” you can tell her to shrink that picture down. If she sees a “dim future,” have her brighten it up. It sounds simple….and it is.

There are all these things inside your mind that you never thought of playing with. You don’t want to go messing around with your head, right? Let other people do it instead. All the things that go on in your mind affect you, and they are all potentially within your control. The question is, “Who’s going to run your brain?”

Who’s Driving the Bus?
Running Your Own Brain
Points of View
Going Wrong
Going for it
Understanding Confusion
Beyond Belief
The Swish

ATHOR BIO: Richard Bandler is one of the original co-developers (with John Grinder) of the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), a powerful new field for personal change and learning.

PUBLISHER’S COMMENTS: (from the Introduction) How often have you heard the phrase, “She has a bright future,” or “He has a colorful past”? Expressions like these are more than metaphors. They are precise descriptions of the speaker’s internal thinking, and these descriptions are the key to learning how to change your own experience in useful ways. For instance, right now notice how you picture a pleasant future event in your own life…and then brighten that picture and notice how your feelings change. When you brighten that picture, do you “look forward” to it more? Most people respond more strongly to a brighter picture; a few respond more to a dimmer picture.

Now take a pleasant memory from your past and literally make the colors stronger and more intense… How does having a “colorful past” change the intensity of your response to that memory? If you don’t notice a difference in your feelings when you make your memory more colorful, try seeing that memory in black and white. As the image loses its color, typically your response will be weaker.

Another common expression is, “Add a little spark to your life.” Think of another pleasant experience, and literally sprinkle your image of it with little shining points of sparkling light, and notice how that affects your feeling response. (Television advertisers and designers of sequined clothing know about this one!)

“Put your past behind you,” is common advice for unpleasant events. Think of a memory that still makes you feel bad, and then notice where you see it now, and how far away the picture is. Probably it’s fairly close in front of you. Now take that picture and physically move it far behind you. How does that change how you experience that memory?

These are a few very basic examples of the simplicity and power of the new NLP “Submodalities” patterns developed by Richard Bandler in the last few years. One of the earliest NLP patterns was the idea of “Modalities” or “Representational Systems.” We think about any experience using sensory system representations–visual pictures, auditory sounds and kinesthetic feelings. Most NLP Training during the last ten years has taught a wide variety of rapid and practical ways to use this knowledge of modalities to change feelings and behavior. Submodalities are the smaller elements within each modality. For example, a few of the visual submodalities are brightness, color, size, distance, location, and focus. Knowledge of Submodalities opens up a whole new realm of change patterns that are even faster, easier, and more specific.

When we were first introduced to NLP in the fall of 1977, we set aside most of what we were doing in order to study these exciting and rapid new ways of changing behavior. At that time Richard Bandler and John Grinder were collaborating on the development of this new field, which promised a great deal. NLP taught how to follow a person’s internal processes by paying attention to unconscious eye movements, how to change old unpleasant feeling responses in minutes, and much more.

Now, seven years later, all those promises and many more have been kept. All the basic ideas and techniques of NLP have withstood the test of time, as well as the tougher test of teaching others how to make practical use of them. NLP has often been described as the field on the cutting edge of communication and change.

NLP offers a conceptual understanding that is solidly based on information science and computer programming, yet rooted even more thoroughly in the observation of living human experience. Everything in NLP can be directly verified in your own experience, or by observing others.

The new submodality patterns described and taught in this book are even faster and more powerful ways of creating personal change than the earlier NLP methods. There are only three major modalities, but there are many submodalities within each modality. Submodalities are literally the ways that our brains sort and code our experience. The submodality change patterns can be used to directly change the human software–the ways we think about and respond to our experiences.

Some critics have contended that NLP is too “cold” and “technical,” and that while it may be successful with simple habits and phobias, it doesn’t deal with “core existential issues.” We will be interested in these critics’ responses to the methods for changing understandings and beliefs demonstrated in chapters 6 and 7.

This book opens a doorway to a practical new way of understanding how your mind works. More important, this book teaches specific simple principles that you can use to “run your own brain.” It teaches you how to change your own experience when you’re not pleased with it, and to further enhance your enjoyment when your life is going well.