Tackling “Bad” Behaviours

We all probably have habits that we’d like to break and bad reactions that we’d like to reduce.

NLP uses a method called “The Swish Pattern” to move you in a different direction rather than the usual response. The steps are as follows:

  1. What behaviour do you want to change? A short temper? Nail biting?
  2. Identify specific cues. What happens immediately before the bad habit? Is there something that triggers it? Does it only happen in certain situations? Is it internal or external?
  3. If the trigger is internal, make a picture of it. How does it look? If it’s external, picture it happening. Make the picture, clear, bright, colourful, big and detailed. If the problem is nail biting, you might see your hand heading towards your mouth. If the problem is a short temper you might you might feel the anger building inside. Or maybe it’s a specific person or type of question/statement that triggers it. Picture that happening.
  4. Stop and take a break for a moment.
  5. Imagine that you responded differently to these triggers. How would that look? How would the new you look; the you that doesn’t bite their nails or get angry easily? Make this picture small and dark. Don’t tie the picture to a specific situation (unless the behaviour is only ever triggered by one event in one place). Are you really happy with the new you? Are sure it’s suitable to you and that it’s what you really want? Is it believable?
  6. Now stop and take another break for a moment.
  7. Now return to the original picture, big and bright. In the corner, have the image of the new you as a little picture-in-picture. Be sure that it is small and dark.
  8. At this point, speed matters. Do this quickly. The idea here is to interrupt the trigger before you get to the bad behaviour. Look at the trigger event in the big picture and very quickly make the images switch places. The trigger event is now a small dark image in the corner and the new you is big and bright. You can actually make a “whoosh” or a “swish” sound as you swap the images to emphasize the speed of the change.
  9. Clear the screen and repeat steps 7 and 8 very quickly. Repeat 5 times.
  10. Be sure NEVER to allow a reverse swish.
  11. If after 5 repeats you find that nothing has changed, re-examine the pictures. Do you actually have the right trigger picture? Is there a problem with the new you image? Can you make it better? Did you swish fast enough? Remember, the idea is to interrupt the trigger before you get to the bad behaviour.


Let me know how you get on.




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