Swish Pattern is a NLP submodality process that programs your brain to go in a new direction. It is used to change undesired habits or unwanted behaviors into new constructive ones.

Credits for the creation of this NLP pattern belong to Richard Bandier and John Grinder.

Break an automatic thought or behavior pattern, and replace it with a resourceful one. Use the Swish pattern for problems such as smoking cessation, anger management, public speaking, nervousness, self-confidence, and self-esteem. The Swish pattern is the most famous and frequently applied NLP technique.

Step #1. Recognize  the automatic reaction

Recognize the automatic reaction (the thoughts, feelings, or images that occur to you when you think of the challenging situation). Select a replacement image (something positive and inspiring) 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 un-resourceful state.

Step #3. Place the replacement

Put the replacement off in the corner of the negative image. Imagine a small, postage-stamp-sized version of your replacement scene in the bottom corner of the negative scene.

Step #4. 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 sub-modalities 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

You can also Swish the two images by using other sub-modalities instead of the ones used here. You could Swish a full color image with a black and 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 sub-modalities.

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 sub-modalities. But others may differ, so keep an open mind, and if doing the Swish pattern by-the-book does not produce the results you seek, experiment with other driver sub-modalities.

“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.” -Steve Andreas and Charles Faulkner