NLP Memory Manipulation - Change the Content of your Memories


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Exercise 1:

Imagine someone who makes you feel uncomfortable; Someone who makes you feel small and insignificant; Someone who you have trouble dealing with; Someone who you find difficult to communicate with, or someone who always seems to hold the upper hand, and restricts the ways in which you can respond.

I think you get the idea.

Now think about dealing with them at some point in the future.

Right, now in your mind you’re probably making a picture of that person.

If not, or if you have trouble creating an image in your mind, then just imagine a picture of them instead.

So what kind of image do you make?

Think for a moment, if this image was real what element of it would make you feel uncomfortable?

If the person in the image is much larger than you, then that would be scary for instance.

If they are very loud, that would also be scary.

If they have a nasty facial expression then that would be scary too.

Imagine if a boxer, prior to a fight, imagined himself fighting his opponent, but imagined his opponent as being twelve feet tall.

I guess his confidence wouldn't be very strong and his chance of winning the fight quite slim.

Usually there is something unrealistic in the image you make - something that in real life would be scary.

There are a number of ways to change the way this representation makes us feel, and we will be coming to many of them later on in the lesson NLP Submodalities - Change your Reality, but for now we’re going to concentrate on the 'content' of the memory.

So as a first step, think about some time you are going to be dealing with that person who bothers you, and notice what is unrealistic about the picture and make it realistic.

For example, if you imagine them as being unreasonably tall, shrink them down.

One by one, change all the unrealistic elements in the image to make the picture more normal.

And for step two, we’re going to take it a little further, and make some things unrealistic.

Concentrate on their face for a moment, and give them a big red clown's nose.

How does that make the person seem?

How about adding a clowns suit and hat?

How about giving them really big flat shoes?

Do they seem quite so difficult now?

So what is happening?

It's simple really.

If you see someone with a clown’s nose, you tend to not take them very seriously, and this is exactly what you did in your head.

This is a perfect example of a generalization.

We generalize that a clown's nose always imply's someone not to be taken seriously.

For anyone who's parents were killed in a freak accident crushed by a crowd of clowns, then please accept my condolences, and find another character you can chose to not take seriously; Cartoon characters, minor celebrities, and WWE Wrestlers are good examples.

Now many readers may have come across similar ideas before such as the exercise nervous speakers use where they imagine the audience naked to make it easier to give a presentation.

Changing the content, especially in humorous ways, can make a massive difference to the state of mind a memory creates.

This technique also works in all other modalities - auditory (hearing), Kinesthetic (feeling), Gustatory (taste), olfactory(smell) - though I'm struggling to come up with an example based around the sense of taste.

So lets try the same exercise using the auditory modality.



Previous comments

Powerful around women?

Making yourself feel more powerful around people you find intimidating is good and useful, but doesn't feel right in the situation where I am trying to talk to a woman who makes me feel uncomfortable. What would you use for that?

Anonymouse, Near the cheese

Posted May 14, 2010 at 10:40

Custom States

Maybe you should check the article on NLP state management elsewhere on the site and create yourself a custom state. Put something like playfulness in to prevent you being too serious about the whole thing. Playing around with different states is really cool and a good way to build some flexibility into your behaviors.

Chris Harrison, UK

Posted May 28, 2010 at 05:33

No Title


Posted October 15, 2010 at 20:22

Amazing article

Amazing article. Thanks for writing it.

Jolly, US

Posted November 15, 2010 at 08:17


Thanks for your feedback Jolly.

Glad you enjoyed it!

Chris Harrison, UK

Posted November 15, 2010 at 13:32


This lesson was simple, yet filled with so much information. And reader friendly information at that. Excellent lesson, thank you so much.

rrobigold, Front Door

Posted November 23, 2010 at 18:42

Thanks rrobigold

Good to see the information was of interest.

Chris Harrison, UK

Posted November 23, 2010 at 21:19

Nice Article

thanks for this article. It would be nice to have a forum on this site.

Sasha, Toronto

Posted December 27, 2010 at 13:38

Thanks Sasha

Glad you enjoyed the article.

I have been wondering about adding a forum for a while, so this may be something I do when I get around to it.

Chris Harrison, UK

Posted December 31, 2010 at 10:30

Great Article

Thanks for a simple, readable,article that engages all the senses. Freeing the mind from the manipulation of memory, what's beyond this?

Courtney, US

Posted November 9, 2011 at 20:48


This was a great article and I especially like the explanation of the V.A.K. model done with such ease.

Thanks again.


Posted December 19, 2011 at 11:12

'In a sense you are remembering what happened in a manner that allows you to not have to question what you think about yourself.' - Could you explain the last part of this statement: '... that allows you to not have to question what you think about yourself.'


Posted April 20, 2012 at 23:12

Could you help me with a situation when someone makes me feel like they don't believe/ value/ respect/ love me? what do I change in such situation? thanks,


Posted April 20, 2012 at 23:30



What I meant by that phrase isn't really important to the NLP process, but when you remember something from your past you tend to remember it in a way that best fits with your beliefs about yourself.

If you believed you had no confidence but had a memory where you were really outgoing and enjoyed yourself then this would be at odds with your belief.

It's likely that when you remembered the event you would do so with some kind of mental filtering - either you'd remember the event as if you were less confident than you actually were or there would be something else given prominence in your recollection of the memory that gives you an 'excuse' for the confident behavior. An example would be that you remembered being quite drunk when you weren't.

Hope that Helps.

Chris Harrison, UK

Posted April 25, 2012 at 19:56

I'm finding it very hard to apply these changes in my mind right now, probably because I've always seen the human side of the people who are difficult for me to deal at the moment. What do you think I should do to make it easier? I really want to feel confident in front of these people and be able to deal with them naturally and honestly, without feeling that they want and can do me any harm (psychological or emotional).


Posted May 29, 2012 at 09:50


Surely seeing the human side should show you how vulnerable these people are - that they are not 'superior' to you.

As to people causing you harm - how often does that actually happen? Or are you making images of people doing things to you? If so then try the whiteout technique to destroy the image.

Chris Harrison, UK

Posted May 29, 2012 at 21:44