In this series, I will talk about a few NLP techniques and principles that can help you change almost any aspect of your personality. With these you will be able to take control of your life. Let’s start with one of the most common ones – The Swish pattern.
1. The Swish Pattern
The Swish Pattern is one of the most popular NLP techniques. It has lots of uses.
It can be used to break an automatic thought or behavioral pattern and replace it with a resourceful one.
Some of the common uses of the swish pattern are:
- Breaking any bad habit (eg: smoking, overeating)
- Management of emotions (eg: Anger management)
- Improving public speaking
- Reducing nervousness
- Developing self-confidence and self-esteem
- Managing state
The Swish Pattern – Breakdown of the steps
Step #1. Recognize the automatic reaction: Recognize the reaction pattern (the thoughts, feelings or images that comes to you when you think of any situation that you want to change). Select a replacement image (something inspiring, such as a really good outcome), that helps create a positive state. Imagine yourself in a dissociated image (the third perceptual position, as if you are watching yourself in a movie). Enhance the qualities, such as submodalities, of the scene until it is as compelling as possible.
Step #2. Determine the trigger of the negative image: Discover what tells your mind to produce the negative image or behavior. Ask yourself what occurs just before this negative or unwanted state begins? This time, you want an associated scene (first position, looking through your own eyes) of what is going on immediately before you engage in the unwanted activity. Remember to think in terms of submodalities to get a detailed sense of the scene. It functions as a trigger for the unresourceful state.
Step #3. Place the replacement: Put the replacement off in the corner of the negative image. Imagine a small, postagestamp- sized version of your replacement scene in the bottom corner of the negative scene.
Step #4. Swish the two images: Swish the two images. You will be making both images change simultaneously and with increasing speed. (If you are experienced, you can select two critical submodalities for this). When you swish, have the negative scene become smaller and shoot off into the distance. At the same time, have the positive replacement image zip in closer and larger, rapidly and completely replacing the negative scene. Imagine it making a whoosh sound as it zips into place. At first, you’ll probably do this slowly, taking a few seconds to complete the swish. As you repeat the process, you will be able to do it faster and faster, until you swish nearly instantaneously.
Step #5. Repeat: Clear your mind after each Swish. This is very important. Do this by thinking of something else, such as your favorite color or what you need to do later. Remember to breathe easily during the swish and the breaks. Do the swish five to seven times, repeating steps three to five each time. You know you have a good outcome when you have some difficulty maintaining the negative image.
Step #6. Test: Now try to use the limiting thought or behavior again. Notice how hard, if not impossible, it is for you to act it out. Notice that you actually have to think about how to do it first; it is not as automatic as it used to be. If you feel that you could relapse, use the Swish again in a day or two, and again after a week.
Additional Advice on the Swish pattern
You can also Swish the two images by using other submodalities instead of the ones used here. You could Swish a full color image with a black & white one; you could Swish by going from 3D to Flat or vice versa; you could Swish a snapshot with a movie or any other contradicting submodalities.
The main key here is to explore and investigate the options.
Some people will respond immediately to the Size/Location forms of Swish, and it is known that these are driver submodalities. But others may differ, so keep an open minded, and if the Swish pattern by-the-book does not produce the results you seek, experiment with other driver submodalities. Here is what other NLP trainers had to say about the Swish pattern in the book – NLP – The New Technology Of Achievement by NLP Comprehensive, Steve Andreas and Charles Faulkner: “The Swish pattern is a very
simple and effective way to create an objective and favorable image of yourself that produces immediate results in specific troublesome situations … you won’t know ahead of time exactly what you will do the next time you encounter a situation that is similar to one that used to be troublesome”.