by Mike Lally
In NLP (neuro linguistic programming) and change work circles, the Swish Pattern is an intervention that is generally used to alter a minor state or behaviour.
For example, a person may want to quit smoking or stop biting their nails (behaviours) or feel happier or motivated (states).
The person who wants the change is asked to make an associated picture at the point where the trigger – the point of no return – occurs.
An associated picture is an image where the person relives the event looking through their own eyes. They are not in the picture – the picture is of them again directly performing the old, unwanted behaviour or state.
The trigger simply means the exact time when it becomes impossible to stop doing what needs to be changed.
For example, a trigger for smoking could occur precisely when the cigarette is almost close to the lips of the smoker. Nothing is going to prevent the person taking a drag.
The person is then asked to construct an image of how they would like to feel or behave instead. This is usually a dissociated picture of the desired state and tends to be state or behaviour specific.
A dissociated picture is an image where the person sees themselves performing what they would prefer to be doing instead. They are in the picture and this makes it a compelling image.
Imagine how useful it would be for anybody to be able to take an unwanted feeling or action and transform it quickly into something they would love to be able to be doing instead.
This would be transformative.
What about making the process so generalized that it is usable in any context?
How can this be done?
Well, simply create the two images and be sure to make the desired image incredibly compelling – just right and something you’d really love to have available.
Dress it up exquisitely by adding the colours you prefer, adjusting the size, making it clear and bright and so on.
Now place the “new” desired image into a corner of your inner theatre and bring the “old” picture to center stage in your mind.
All you need to do next is to swap the pictures at speed. Quickly place the new image right in the center of your mind and simultaneously move the old picture to the corner.
Then wipe everything clean by removing both pictures from your mind and repeat the process a number of times.
When nominating a preferred behaviour give yourself permission to create it without boundaries. So, make the desired picture context, state and behaviour independent.
This would allow the change to be more generative and applicable in any context where the ability to cope better is required.
The “new” picture would now be an image of how the person would like to be in the future without a sense of being enclosed.
The successful use of this technique would not only delete the old prescribed behaviour, but would directly produce an integral change that could be adapted to any future limiting situation.
The person can now become anything they choose and do so with relish.
Avoid words like “should” or “must” as in sentences that suggest:
“You should do this” or “You must do that.”
People generally do not like to be told what to do and this immediately has the tendency to irritate them and will stiffen opposition. They will automatically think “Why should I!”
Once offside they may stop listening to you.
A better way is to use softeners – these types of words provide a person with the illusion or impression of choice.
“Perhaps you could consider…” or
“Maybe you might like to…”
Sometimes most of us get a sense that we are not performing at our optimum best.
With a bit of luck this feeling will not last throughout the day.
If it does, well, that could be a day wasted.
So, if you get out of bed on the wrong side wouldn’t it be useful to have at your disposal a simple technique to immediately feel a sense of optimism?
Follow this simple process and give yourself permission to go about your daily tasks feeling invigorated!