NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP) has been defined as the study of subjective experience. The developers of NLP wondered “How do humans think?”, and the answer is rather obvious, once you think about it.
We think in pictures, sounds (including words), and physical sensations. Sometimes we include smells and tastes as well. For example, a woman who loves chocolate may mentally represent chocolate with an image of a favorite candy, and imagine the taste and mouth texture, while saying “mmmmm” to herself. In other words, the thought “chocolate” generates all those experiences in a flash.
Few of us are aware that we think in pictures, words, etc. until someone calls our attention to it. And, why would we? We just think.
The value in exploring the structure of our thoughts is that when we become aware of the structures we can decide change them in useful ways. For example, one of my clients told me that when he went to the gym he’d work out with his trainer, look at the exercise bike and go home. He knew that riding would improve his results, but he just wasn’t doing it.
When asked, it turned out that his representation of riding the bike was a still picture, and he wasn’t even in the picture! When he turned his picture into a movie of himself riding, finishing and then gaining the benefits over time, he started riding the bike regularly.