Surely, you’ve heard of Sherlock Holmes? He’s a famous fictional detective; portrayed as a genius with a mind that could scan an entire crime site & find clues instantly. His friend & assistant, Dr. Watson, was also brilliant, but he would tend to overlook the obvious. And that is precisely the distinction: To SEE versus OBSERVE. To HEAR versus LISTEN.

In the story, A Scandal in Bohemia, Sherlock asks Dr. Watson how many stairs lead up to their apartment. The interesting point is that Dr. Watson climbed those steps multiple times per day, every day, yet he didn’t know how many steps there were.

Holmes replies, “I know there are 17 steps, because I have both seen & observed. You see, but you do not observe.”

It’s interesting how we gloss over things. Think about the places you’ve been and the many conversations you’ve been part of and yet, unaware of how much you were missing.

Consider how much better it could be (or more impactful an experience) if you only took the time to be present, to deeply connect to whatever you’re doing or with whomever you’re communicating with.

Sherlock Holmes understood that our senses give us information about ourselves and the world. The more intently we listen, see, feel, the better chance we have of understanding what is really going on.

In NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), we to refer to this as sub-modalities: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory, gustatory.

They are a representational system that gives us deeper meaning to our experiences. The more distinctions we make in any given situation, the clearer & more enhanced our experiences & understanding will be.

Here’s where it gets interesting!! You can use these sub-modalities to alter your memories!

While you can’t change the past, you can change your recollection of a past memory to create a new experience.

By exploring the sensory language of memories, you can change a memory in a way that’s beneficial to you.

Your imagination is built from sensory language. How you paint a picture in your mind, how you communicate these ideas to others, is precisely what creates your reality or your representation of the world.

Here’s a few examples of sub-modalities:

• Association / Disassociation (involved or observing)
• Color or B&W
• Brightness (dark or light)
• Depth (2D or 3D)
• Clarity (hazy, fuzzy, focused, sharp)

• Tonality (flat or engaging)
• Pitch (high or low)
• Tempo (fast or slow)
• Intensity (bold or soft)
• Volume (loud or soft)
• Rhythm (regular or irregular)

• Location (where do you feel it)
• Vibration (still or pulsing)
• Temperature (does it have a temperature? hot/cold/warm)
• Pressure (light or intense)

Access a memory or imagine an idea in your mind… go ahead and try to identify the sub-modalities in closer detail. By doing this, it will amplify the experience and its associated feelings. Then you can play around with them. Make images bigger, brighter, more colorful, closer, or further away. Observe how these changes strengthen or weaken the power of the experience.

The more you can “spin” your feelings, the more you can influence how your emotions present themselves & the more you can influence the feelings of people around you.

You can change, alter, create a new memory, and enhance your recall of a particular situation just like Sherlock – the subtle distinctions between seeing and observing; hearing and listening.

It’s all in the details. Be fully present in experience.

If you’d like to learn more about Neuro Linguistic Programming and/or coaching:


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