What we’re really doing as we work with sub-modalities is re-labeling the stimulus system that tells the brain how to feel about an experience. Your brain responds to whatever signals (sub-modalities) you give it. If you provide signals of one type, the brain will feel pain. If you provide different sub-modalities, you can feel fine in a matter of moments. For example, while Mr.X was conducting a Neuro-Linguistic Professionals Training in Phoenix, Arizona, he began to notice that a large number of people in the room showed a great deal of muscle tension in their faces, making expressions that was interpreted as expressing pain. X mentally reviewed what he had been talking about and found nothing that could have triggered such a response in so many people. So finally X asked someone. What are you feeling now? He said, “I’ve got a massive headache”. As soon as he said that, so did another person, and then another, and another. More than 60 percent of the people in the room had headaches. They explained that the bright lights needed for videotaping were shining in their eyes, and they found it irritating, even painful. In addition, we were in a room without windows, and the ventilation had broken down about three hours earlier, so it was very stuffy. All these things had created a physiological shift in these people. So, what could X do, send everyone out for an Excedrin?
The brain delivers pain only when it receives stimuli that are represented in a way that tells it to feel pain. So X had the people describe the sub-modalities of their pain. For some, it was heavy and throbbing; for others. Some felt pain very large and bright (you can imagine how that felt) while for some it was small. X then had them change their sub-modalities of pain, by first of all disassociating themselves from the pain and putting it outside themselves. Then he got them out of their feelings by having them see the shape and size of the pain and place it about ten feet in front of them. Next X had them make their representation bigger and smaller, causing it to grow and explode through the ceiling and then shrink way down. Then he had them push the pain into the sun and watch it melt to nothing and then come down to earth as sunshine to feed the plants. Finally X asked them how they felt. In less than five minutes, 95 percent no longer had a headache. They had changed their internal representations of what they were signaling the brain to do, so the brain, now getting the new signals, was producing a new response. The remaining 5 percent took another five minutes to make more specific changes. One man had been experiencing a migraine, and even he was feeling fine again.
When X describe this process to some people, they have difficulty believing that they could eliminate their pain that quickly and easily. Yet haven’t you yourself done this unconsciously many, many times? Can you remember a time when you were feeling pain bit then got caught up in doing something else, or something exciting happened, and when you changed what you were thinking about or representing to your brain, you no longer felt the pain? Pain can simply go away and not come back again unless you start representing it to yourself. With a little bit of conscious direction of your internal representations, you can easily eliminate headaches at will.
In fact, once you learn the signals that produce specific results in your brain, you can cause yourself to feel whatever way you’d like to feel about virtually anything.
A larger set of filters on human experience can govern or affect your ability to maintain new internal representations or even to make the changes in the first place. Those filters concern what we value most and unconscious benefits we may be receiving from our present behavior. The issue and importance of values is a chapter in itself. If pain is sending you important signals about something you need to change in your body, then unless you address that need, the pain will most likely come back because it is serving you in an important way.
With what you’ve learned so far, you can already tremendously enhance your own life as well as the life of anyone you know. Let’s look at another aspect of the way we structure our experience, a critical ingredient that can empower us to effectively model most anyone.