Updated on September 19, 2018
We’re doing a student webinar on the NLP swish pattern this week at the iNLP Center. This post is to outline the main points we’ll make.
What is the NLP Swish Pattern?
The swish pattern is an NLP visualization technique that became popular in the early days of NLP – late 1970’s. It’s used to retrain thought and feeling patterns around undesirable habits that happen on autopilot. Smoking, nail-biting, overeating, and chronic emotional reactions are appropriate candidates for the swish pattern.
What you didn’t know about the Swish Pattern
The swish pattern was born of modeling. Modeling is the practice of learning how someone does something well, breaking down the process, and teaching it to others. We often associate modeling with performance, like modeling someone’s basketball shot to improve our own.
The swish pattern is a model based on people who naturally overcome bad habits like those mentioned above. And this is one of the things I love about Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Modeling the success of others is 100% applicable to mental and emotional health – and all kinds of behaviors. You just need to find someone who gets the result you want.
For example, if you want to overcome a fear, you might benefit by studying the fear. Yet, you’re more likely to find a solution by modeling someone who has successfully overcome the same fear. With the swish pattern, NLP developers found people who had overcome bad habits and broke down their mental process. After filter out unnecessary elements, we have the swish.
The swish pattern directly reflects the thought process used by people who have overcome habits. It makes all the sense in the world to model those people and teach their strategy to others, right?
Making the Swish Pattern Work
If you’re enrolled in an NLP practitioner course, you have the steps to the swish. If you don’t have the steps, you’ll likely gain something from the following tips, regardless.
Before we get into it, you should also check out this article from the late and great NLP legend, Steve Andreas.
Key Elements of the Swish to NOT Screw Up:
1. Choose the right problem.
The swish is for automatic or unconscious habits, not vague feelings or unpredictable reactions. Nail biting is a great example. It’s a clear and concrete behavior that you do on autopilot. It’s typically done the same way every time and very difficult to stop once it becomes a habit.
Simple, concrete, habitual behaviors that you want to quit are ideal for the swish pattern.