How? Through something called submodalities.
What Are Modalities and Submodalities?
Modalities: We think using the same channels (modalities) as our senses. We imagine images (seeing) in our mind’s eye, talk to ourselves and hear other sounds internally (hearing) and feel emotions.
Submodalities: Submodalities are the qualities of our thoughts. Think of a TV. You can turn the volume up or down (volume is a quality of sound), you can turn the color up or down (a quality of the visual modality). A TV’s picture can be large or small and the TV can be near you or far away. In the same way, our internal sound thoughts can be loud or quiet. They can come from a particular direction, the tone can be mellow or harsh. The images and movies we make in our mind’s eye can be bright or dark, near or far away, they can be 3-dimensional or flat.
Submodalities are the brain’s coding system. They’re how our brains know how to make us feel about our thoughts.
Submodalities of Excellence
The truth is, your submodalities of something you do very well or know very well are different than the submodalities for something you don’t yet do well or know well. I’ll give you a quick example…
When I play a guitar lick I know very well and can do easily, I have imagery in my mind of the fretboard and my fingers on the fretboard. I can see my fingers very clearly, in good detail and they’re very large inside of a large image. It’s a detailed movie closeup of my fingers. The “movie” is shot from a specific angle, as well. I hear both the sounds of the guitar/music and myself making positive comments about playing well. I feel a feeling of confidence.
When I don’t know a lick well or am not confident with it, the submodalities are different. I don’t see things as clearly, the image is not as big and I don’t as clearly see the fingers. If I’m not sure where they go, I may see several different possibilities of where my fingers could go (they’re more transparent — I can see through the fingers). I don’t have a confident feeling about where to put them. Internal dialog is about me not knowing exactly what to do. “Uh-oh, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do here.”
Superlearning: Go Straight For The Win
When we learn something, we change our submodalities for that thing. We change from the submodalities of something we don’t know well to the submodalities of something we do know. For many of us, this process is inefficient. But we can use the clues our submodalities give us to make learning more efficient. Way more efficient.
How? Well, we concentrate on doing things that help us create the submodalities of something we know how to do well. Let’s use the guitar playing as an example…
Since my submodalities for a lick I know well include seeing an image big and clear, self-talk about playing well and a feeling of confidence, that’s what I’m shooting for. What would help me do that? Well, I can slow the lick down and notice any place I’m not comfortable or confident. Then I can go over that part until I’m sure I know where the fingers go. Then, I alternate between playing the lick correctly (slowly) and visualizing it exactly as if I know it perfectly. Whenever I try to visualize and it’s not clear, I stop, watch myself do it right and then practice visualizing what I just saw.
When I get it right, I do some positive self-talk and get a feeling of confidence (the feeling of confidence can be triggered with an anchor).
In short, my focus is in getting the submodalities to where they’re the same as the submodalities of something I know well.
Why Does It Work So Well?
There’s a couple of reasons this superlearning method is so effective.
- Often, when we do something well, it has positive feelings attached to it. Those positive feelings help us function well. The faster we get to those feelings, the faster we’ll do well. This method gets us to those positive feelings quickly.
- This method lets us know, very specifically, what to work on. That helps us avoid wasted time and effort.
How You Can Develop Your Own Super-Learning Strategy
Pick some task you would like to do better and some similar task you already do well (learning a foreign language vs your native language, a word you would like to be able to spell vs a word you know how to spell etc.). Notice your thoughts in relation to both. What images do you make about a word you know/don’t know how to spell? What sounds? What feelings do you have? Take the task you don’t know how to do well and change the submodalities to the submodalities of the thing you know well. Perform any activity that helps you to do that.
Now, reap the rewards 🙂
PS: That’s my Fender Stratocaster. I’ve had it since the mid-’80s and it’s still my go to guitar.