SWISH – Habit eraser

The SWISH is an excellent technique which allows us to change undesired habits or responses quickly and easily.  With the SWISH we can interrupt the patterns we no longer want and replace them with habits which support us and help us achieve our goals.

Here below I am going to illustrate this very simple technique which can help you interrupt unwanted patterns and “install” new ones easily.  Whether that’s a habit such as pulling hair, a way you react to a certain recurring event, when you see an abusive colleague or a negative state of mind that may happen in specific circumstances, this technique can help you change completely in as little as 5 minutes.

So here’s how it’s done:

  • First, identify your unwanted behaviour or response – I’m going to use pulling your hair but this can work with virtually any habit.
  • Second, identify what you see (visual cues) right before you engage in this behaviour When do you pull your hair (or do whatever you do which you no longer wish to be doing)?  Create the picture in your mind.  What do you see?  What do you hear?  What do you feel that makes you want to pull your hair?  Do you see your hand coming up to your head?  How does that make you feel?  Does stress or sadness cause you to pull your hair?
  • Now, make a large, bright image of what you see just before you pull your hair.  Whatever it is, make it large and bright in your mind’s eye.   When you get it, put this image aside for a minute.  This is your visual cue, your trigger image.
  • Forth, make a “new you” image.  See yourself how you would be if you were no longer pulling your hair.  How would you see yourself differently?  When you picture yourself, it should be a dissociated view which means that you should see yourself not from your point of view (looking through your own eyes); you should see yourself in the picture as if you were watching from a third position which will enable you to see that image without feeling the stress.  You are not pulling your hair and you have more useful responses to your stress.  You just see yourself feeling good and positive with more options.Keep seeing yourself until you feel good and positive and want to be more like the person you are seeing.  You should feel drawn to that person.  There is no background, no place, just the person that you want to be.  It may be a good idea to put that “New You” doing things the new way, on a white, neutral background.  This way it would be easier for the new habit to happen in any environment avoiding the risk of being affected by whatever differences may occur.
  • You want to make sure that when you look at this picture of that “new you”, you don’t have any hesitations or doubts.  Is there something about this picture that goes against your values or beliefs?  If so, continue to change the person until you feel confident and deeply attracted to this new view of you.
  • Step five is the set up.  Return to your bright, large visual cue from step 2.  Now, put a small, dark picture of the “new you” from step 3 on the lower left hand corner; to the left of your left foot.  Prepare to SWISH.
  • Six – The SWISH.  You will need to close your eye to do this and so, read the instructions first and then do the exercise.  With your eyes closed, see the “new you” picture quickly come up from the bottom left and place itself in right in front of you while getting bigger and brighter, overlapping the visual cue or the old picture (pulling hair).  Your trigger image becomes smaller and dimmer as it is overlapped by the “new you”.
  • Seven.  Clear the screen (erase the picture in front of you) and open your eyes.  Think of something completely different to clear your mind.
  • Eight.  Repeat this process at least 5 times or until the image of that “new you” is firmly glued in front of you.  It is imperative that you SWISH faster and faster each time.  Be sure to open your eyes at the end of each swish, or “break state” (think of something different), so that the process only goes one way.  This creates a one-way “chain”, a direction pattern as you change size, brightness and association/dissociation of your image.  When you SWISH the images it is often helpful to make a “swish” sound or say “swish!” out loud.
  • Future pacing and test.  Get that old undesired habit trigger image up again.  It should be hard to see.   Instead, the new you image has replaced it and therefore has replaced the thought which consequently has changed the behaviour.

Next time you face the situation which in the past caused you to start the old undesired behaviour, you should be overwhelmed by the new you image and far less motivated to start that old habit.  In fact it may also seem completely unnatural for you to think of the old habit.

A trained NLP Coach can take you through this SWISH technique in a much more detailed and individual way, however, this type of visualization is very valuable.  This standard SWISH technique works with about 70% of people without having to go into further background details, or brain function work.  If your visual cues are specific, you will feel a change. I often used this technique with my sales team and the results are… measurable!


Good luck,
Luca Senatore

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