mapping across mental reframing

Mapping Across in NLP

Mapping Across Systems

Mapping across is a fancy-pants way of getting the unconscious mind to re-code something. When the unconscious codes a person’s mind differently, powerful unconscious resources are aligned toward making sure that’s true! If you want to change something about the way you are (or a client wants to change something), it’s best to have the unconscious mind pointed toward that same goal. Here’s how to map across, using smoking cessation as an example that a client wants to shift.

Getting the unconscious to categorize smoking as something a client would never do, or categorize themselves as a non-smoker, can be wonderfully powerful in helping them stop smoking. Here’s an example of mapping across from having an identity as a smoker to having an identity as a non-smoker.

1) Ask the client to get the representation that lets them know they’re a smoker. You might ask “How do you know you’re a smoker? What is it that you do, inside your mind that lets you know you’re a smoker?”

2) Have them get a representation of them being something they know they’re not. Maybe they’re not a professional basketball player or a college graduate. How do they know they’re not?

3) Contrast and compare the submodalities of the two representations. Change the “I am a smoker” representation submodalities to the submodalities of the thing they are not. In other words, move the “I am a smoker” picture to where the picture of themselves being a pro basketball player is. Make the colors and amount of movement like the pro basketball player’s images. Make the sounds have the same qualities.

4) Once the smoking identity submodalities are the same as the thing they aren’t—the thought of them being a smoker should be much less real. Then lock that representation there. Some people do it by having the client imagine the representation sealing there like Tupperware (make the sound). Others put bolts in the images and sounds to keep them there.

Remember to work within a level. In other words, if you’re working with the behavior of smoking, both examples (the smoking behavior and the behavior you wouldn’t do) are behaviors. If you’re doing an identity level intervention, make sure you work with an “I am a smoker” representation and an identity representation for something they are not (not something they don’t do).


About The Author:

Keith Livingston is the main instructor for Hypnosis 101. Keith has been studying hypnosis since he was a boy and doing hypnosis & NLP training since 1997.

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  1. Does this work as easily the other way round?

    How about if you take the modalities that say you are not a pro basketball player and shift them to the one that affirms the smoker ID… would that unleash powerful resources the other way?

    1. Soren,
      Keep in mind that whether one is a smoker or not is more in the control of an individual than whether one is a pro basketball player. In NLP terms, being a pro basketball player may not be “initiated and maintained by self.” That’s one of NLP’s conditions for well-forming a goal. It might be better to shift towards someone who is constantly improving their game, someone who plays to the best of their abilities–things that are within that persons control.


      Locus of Control

      Well forming a goal.

  2. You can also use mapping across to make something important when it isn’t and you want it to be.

    That way you could make going to the gym as important as catching up with your favourite soap.

    Doing this type of mapping is great if you do any values work too.

    Happy Travels


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