Time and NLP techniques

Time and NLP techniques is here to assist you because time is all we have, it is often said.  We don’t quite know what it is. 

Some scientists now believe that they are the same thing.  On occasions time appears to pass too quickly and at other times it appears to drag. 

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us

J R R Tolkien - Lord of the Rings

Too much or too little time?

On other occasions we perceive that we have so much of it that we don’t know how to cope, and we all recall when there really didn’t seem to be enough to go around.


Consider how you and those around you code time.  There is no right or wrong way but some of us do it in similar fashion and others quite differently.  Stand in a space with enough room to take steps in any direction. 

Where is your past?

Imagine that where you are standing now represents the present moment.  Think about yesterday.  Where do you envisage that in relation to where you are now standing? 

Take a step in that direction.  Now imagine last month and take another step.  

Now think of last year and either take a step in that direction or indicate where it is to you.  When you have done that return to your starting position that represents the present moment. 

Time and NLP techniques - Stepping into tomorrow

Where do you envisage tomorrow?  Take a step in that direction.  Where do you see next month?  Take another step.  

Now think of next year and either take a step in that direction or indicate where it is.

Most people fall into two groups, although I stress there is no right and wrong about this; all that matters is how time appears to you. 

One group thinks of the past as behind them somewhere (sometimes straight behind and sometimes at a slight angle).  

That group usually sees the future either straight ahead of them or, again, at a slight angle in front of them. 

Time and NLP techniques - In time

In NLP we describe this as in time.  It is suggested – although you will wish to test it for yourself – that people who think in time see events through their own eyes and experience the past and present as now. 

It is also said that it is difficult for them to look objectively at past events, plan ahead or estimate how long it will take to achieve something.  The moment, however, is of great importance to them.

Through time

The other group tends to see time running across in front of them, sometimes straight but others see it as a curve.  

They usually see the past extending off to the left or right, and the future in the opposite direction.  

In NLP this is described as through time.  They see events flowing in front of them.  

It is suggested that they can plan better and monitor progress, but they may overlook the item of pressing importance now.

I think it is highly unlikely that very few of us fall into one category or the other.  

Although we may have a particular way of viewing time, either in or through, the way we behave is rarely black or white.

In time people may be motivated by the use of expressions such as enjoying the moment, be aware of, now, here and feel.  

Through time people are more likely to gell with next timepreviously, in future, historically and in the past.

Time and NLP techniques - Language

Listen out for the language used by your friends and families and see if you can work out where they fall on the spectrum.  

Do their personality characteristics fit with the general descriptions outlined above or are they more flexible than that?  These are all clues to the way people think and act.

Consider this a little further.  Close your eyes and think of something in your distant past.  Your mind will make a picture of that memory. 

Now think of something that happened very recently, say yesterday or today.  Observe the differences between those pictures.  Do they appear to be in the same position or are they in slightly different places?

Is one bigger or smaller than the other?  Is one more colourful than the other?  Is one close and the other far off?  

Now think about something you want to happen in the future.  Where is that?  Go through and compare the various submodalities and see how they differ from each other.

Time and NLP techniques - Back to the future

Now you have an idea about how you think about time in your own mind and how you code it, let us try another experiment.  

I wonder if you are old enough to remember the film Back to the Future with the DeLorean time travel vehicle.  It is a bit like that but it all happens inside your mind.

Go through these instructions then close your eyes and perform the exercise.  Think of something that you need to tackle but feel short of resources. 

As an example, assume that you have a presentation to make but you are anxious about it.  

Mentally stick a flag in the ground to represent the present moment and then imagine yourself floating up above your line and looking down on the flag.

Time and NLP techniques - Floating along the line

Now float along your timeline into your past and search for a moment when you were confident or determined and made something happen.  It may not have been making a presentation. 

It may not even be something that you are especially proud of now because you may have done it for all the wrong reasons, but that doesn’t matter.  What you are seeking is that confidence and determination to get what you want.

If you can find more than one occasion, so much the better.  When you have located those pictures, feelings and sounds associated with them, observe the submodalities closely. 

That is to say, note the size of the pictures, the position in your vision, whether they are close or distant, fuzzy or sharp, in colour or in black and white.  Note how strong the feelings are and where they are within you.

Listen to any sounds associated with them.  Are they loud, soft, shrill or gentle.  Hold on to all those sounds, feelings and images and bring them back to the present moment.  Now take a moment to imagine the presentation you are to make and see where that picture is. 

Adjust the submodalities of your presentation is to those of the confident and determined memories and sense how that boosts your confidence.

Time and NLP techniques - Accessing your resources

Now you know how to access your resources in this manner, if you feel there is anything else you need to help you with your presentation, you can go back over your timeline and look for it.  Bring it all into the present. 

Let this exercise be part of your planning for future events, and you will be able to access resources you forgot you ever had.

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