This article will show you how to use the NLP Swish Pattern – which will help you to act ideally in a situation which is causing you problems at the moment.
If you follow the instructions below, you will discover the cue that currently makes you act with an undesired response – and learn how to replace it with a positive and empowering response, helping you to perform at your best.
NLP Swish Pattern 1: Identify the Problem Behaviour
Before you use the Swish Pattern, you have to know which problem behaviour you are looking to change. This could be one of many common problems – such as you don’t exercise enough, you eat too much crap – or it could be a fear of meeting new people, of speaking in public, or a fear of failing at any particular endeavour.
All that matters is that it’s an exact behaviour that you would like to change – to replace with a new positive and empowering response.
Pick a specific problem you are looking to solve before you move on.
NLP Swish Pattern 2: Find the Cue
Your current problem behaviour is likely to be triggered automatically by a specific stimulus. This means that you don’t consciously choose to act the way you do, you just do. It’s an automatic response – just like when the Doctor bangs your knee with a hammer and your leg shoots up.
There is a certain trigger for you that causes you to act out this problem behaviour. If you can identify the trigger, you can change the response.
For example, if you’re putting off going to the gym, what is the exact moment that you decide not to go? It could be the thought of packing your bag and walking to the gym that makes you decide against it. It might be the mental image of you struggling on the running machine that saps your enthusiasm. It could even be the “better” thought of you lying on the sofa, junk food and TV remote in hand, as a preferred way to spend your afternoon.
Either way, there is a specific cue that generates the automatic response. Find this before moving on.
Note – If you’re struggling to identify your specific cue, try this little exercise – imagine that you have to teach me this problem behaviour. Imagine that I want to learn how to avoid exercise, or how to eat more crap, or how to be petrified of speaking in public – or whatever your particular issue is.
What is the one image that I would need to picture that would absolutely decide my hand for me? Which pictures, sounds and feelings would I have to replicate in my brain to confine me to acting out the undesired response?
If you really, truly wanted to convince me why you act the way you do, how would you do so? What do I need to see and feel to make me act this way?
That should’ve helped you to find your trigger! If you haven’t identified your cue yet, simply imagine performing your desired response now… and what pops into your mind first? How do you manage to convince yourself that this better and more beneficial behaviour is a bad or scary idea?
When you’ve identified your cue, jot it down on a bit of paper and break state – this simply means clearing your brain and doing something else for a few seconds. Jump up and down on the spot, hum a song, recite the alphabet backwards or look out the window for a while… Whatever you fancy. Just think about something totally unrelated for a minute before proceeding. This helps your brain to reset before you go on to identify the new behaviour you wish to install.
NLP Swish Pattern 3: Choose Your Ideal Response
Now we get to the fun part. Here, you get to choose the new self image that you will install in your subconscious – the positive response you will generate automatically when the cue occurs from now on.
Choose a suitably compelling snapshot of you performing at your best now – a picture that excites and motivates you.
For example, you might see yourself immediately after a gym session – buzzing on endorphins and feeling wonderful. You might imagine a slim and healthy you who is eating healthily and feeling awesome. It could be a confident and assured you who has just delivered an engaging and well-received presentation to a crowd of strangers and received rapturous applause. Whatever the response you wish to install, get a clear picture of it now.
All that matters is that this response is powerful for you – it has to motivate you and you only.
Now… ramp it up! Make the picture big and bright and gorgeously compelling… make the sounds brighter and clearer… and thoroughly indulge yourself in every last glorious detail of this wonderful picture… and make sure you feel exactly how you would feel if you acted in this ideal way in real life… better, in fact.
Now, locate where the feeling in your body is, give this feeling a colour, and double its intensity and brightness… and then double it again! Make yourself feel awesome now by seeing yourself performing at your best – and living it now in the present.
Absolutely wallow in this fantastic collection of images, sounds and feelings. Make yourself feel as amazing as you possibly can… and then double the intensity of the feelings again! Make sure your brain is filled with a gloriously bright, crisp and powerful image of you at your best – and feeling on top of the world.
When you’ve got this wonderful image sorted, break state. Count to ten in Japanese. Converse with a pet. Contemplate the nature of the universe… whatever takes your fancy.
NLP Swish Patterns 4: Time to Swish
This is where the magic happens! What you are going to do is take the original cue image from step 2 and replace it with the new, empowering picture from step 3.
So first, get the old cue picture in your mind. You should be associated – which means seeing it through your own eyes. Make it big and bright and see every little detail.
Now, take a postage-stamp sized picture of your new, powerful self image, and plonk it in the corner of your vision. Make it small and dark and disassociated for the moment – which means looking down at yourself from a third party perspective, not through your own eyes.
Now, we’re ready to Swish!
Take the postage sized picture of the new you and push it further and further away from you until it is just a tiny speck. I like to visualise this little picture stretching all the way back to the moon, where I load it with an unimaginably powerful rocket launcher.
(In a second we’re going to need this image to absolutely fly at you, growing bigger and brighter and more compelling by the millisecond – and I find the best way to do this is by imagining the new picture has a rocket strapped to it. Some people prefer pretending it’s on an elastic band – work out what’s right for you!)
When you’re ready to Swish, imagine the cue for the problem behaviour, and then immediately fire your rocket or elastic band and send the new image crashing towards you!
As the new image comes hurtling towards you, becoming bigger and richer and bolder – send the old cue image in the opposite direction, armed with its very own rocket launcher, making it darker and smaller and less powerful and flying away from you.
Some people like to make an audible “Swish” sound when they do this – I guess it’s the sound you’d imagine these memories to make as they fly past each other.
As the new self image hits you – associate. See it through your own eyes! Imagine every last glorious detail again and make it big and bright and bold and beautiful! Feel all the amazing feelings rush through your veins… And think how good it would be to behave like this from now on.
Take a few moments to revel in the wonderful feeling of this new self image. This is key – indulge yourself. Don’t rush this bit… enjoy your success.
Now, break state.
NLP Swish Pattern 5: Embed the change.
It’s now time to thoroughly embed this change. For this, you need to repeat the last step around 10 times, breaking state quickly in between each one. You’ll find that you’ll do this quicker as you progress.
(Don’t moan! It will only take you ten minutes top – and if you’ve come this far, it’s bloody worth it!)
What is happening here, by the way, is that we are calling up the cue, and you are saying to your brain repeatedly “NOT THIS (old behaviour) BUT THIS (new behaviour)!! You are using speed, emotions and repetition to literally re-program your brain. Sweet!
So, load up the old cue image – put the new empowering belief as a speck in the corner – push it back as far as it can go and load it up with your rocket or spring – think of the cue – and Swish! Send the old memory to the moon, and bring the new memory crushing home to you!
Take a few moments between each attempt to really enjoy the feelings… you should be having fun when you do this. Lots of fun, in fact. It should feel awesome!
To finish, when you have Swished at least 10 times, think of the cue and then try and think of your old problem behaviour. If you’ve done it correctly, it will be quite tricky to even imagine the old behaviour – and if you can, it’s most probably lost the majority of its strength.
You might even find it a bit funny to imagine yourself behaving in the old way. (This is called ‘future pacing’ in NLP).
You’re now left with a new way to act whenever you experience the cue – so please do enjoy the results from this NLP Swish Pattern!
PS – My advice is to go out and actively reinforce the swish pattern by acting in accordance with your new behaviour. The Swish is powerful – but it only works if you’re willing to change the way you act. Give it a go today and see if it worked for you… Boom!
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