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Updated: Thursday, 27 November 2014





NLP Core Skills


7 March 2015


The New Forest


Pegasus NLP Blog



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The Swish Technique

Re-directionalise negative thinking

The Visual Swish technique enables us to quickly dissolve the feelings attached to unwanted thoughts and to deal with unuseful responses

In the Swish we replace the unwanted thought or response with a more useful and appropriate one because the Swish re-directionalises thinking.  It is an instruction to the brain No, not that - THIS!!

Use the NLP Swish for yourself - and others

This is a valuable technique for managing your own thinking, states, and behaviours.  Each time you use the Swish you are training yourself to instantly re-direct your thinking from unuseful topics to more resourceful ones.

By using the Swish in your own life you develop your ability to maintain resourceful states, manage your responses to stressful situations, and engage in the behaviours you want. 

(By the way there are links to more articles on NLP and Anchors at the end of this article).

How to use the Swish

1. Select a replacement image

First select your Replacement Feeling - ask yourself How do I want to be instead

Having selected the Replacement Feeling see and hear a detached and associated version of yourself experiencing this feeling. It is quite important that this image is dissociated. Enhance the detail and the quality (submodalities) of this until the image is quite compelling. 

2. Find the trigger for the unwanted mood

What is it that you respond to? How you know when to have the unwanted response or reaction?

Ask yourself What occurs just before this negative or un-wanted state begins?  This time, you want an associated image of what is going on immediately before you engage in the unwanted activity.

3. Put the replacement in the corner of unwanted image

Imagine a small postage-stamp sized version of your replacement picture in the bottom corner of the unwanted picture.

4. Swish the two images

Now you want t make both images change simultaneously and with increasing speed. (Experienced NLPers will select two critical submodalities to use here. However simply making the images change size and distance from you will work most of the time.)

Have the 'negative' image become smaller and shoot off into the distance. At the same time have the 'positive' replacement image become larger and closer until it replaces the negative image completely. Imagine a "swish" sound as you do this - hence the name. That's one Swish sound.

(Do this  fairly slowly at first taking, say, 5-10 seconds to do it. Then continue, doing it a little faster each time, until you are swishing almost instantaneously - in less than a second!)

5. Clear your mind

After each Swish round blank your mind, fully! Think of something else or visualise your favourite colour. Breathing easily as you do this since some people tend to hold their breath while concentrating on doing the Swish. It is crucial to the success of the Swish to clear your mind or turn your attention outside before you do each next round.

6. Practice 5-7 times

Repeat steps 3 to 5 up to about seven times until you have difficulty in maintaining the unwanted image.

‘I don’t visualise’

This is a very common belief. Everyone visualises - but some people can visualise much more clearly and in much more detail than others. And their mental images have more duration i.e. they linger longer and therefore more easy to manipulate.  (This is why the traditional "visual" Swish is so effective for such visualisers.)

You can do an Auditory or a Kinaesthetic Swish, too. So if you (or the other person if you are assisting someone else) believes that you have difficulty in visualising you could accept this belief and use a kinaesthetic or auditory swish. that said, the traditional Swish pattern works best with skilled visualisers.

Alternately, and often more effectively, you can act 'as if' you are visualising - i.e. you pretend that you visualising and simply follow the steps listed above. Curiously, this will often work just as effectively!

Develop skill with the NLP Swish

Like all NLP techniques the Swish is best learned "live" in a workshop where you are able to interact with the facilitator and with other participants -- and where you learn the background steps before you get to actually do the Swish. However you can still get good results if you carefully follow the above tips.

The method described above is a version of the traditional NLP Visual Swish technique. It works well for those who are good visualisers especially if it is directed by a coach or trainer using NLP language patterns, anchoring, and who has a keen of awareness of non-verbal responses.

To make the benefits of the Swish Pattern more widely available we have developed the Pegasus Diamond Swish. We teach this is our NLP Core Skills courses yet even here it is left until the final day of the workshop so that participants are able to incorporate many of the other skills which they have learned during the workshop in order to make it work more effectively.


More about negative anchors or hot buttons:

The Swish Technique is one of the best way of defusing a negative anchor

How negative anchors operate in families and close relationships

Why 'positive thinking' doesn't work with negative anchors

NLP and anchors in the supermarket...

An NLP technique for regaining your sense of perspective

Negative anchors - they are not our fault


Other articles related to NLP Anchors

Negative anchors and self esteem

Poor weather can be a negative anchor for some people

Anchoring and brands - how marketing uses anchors

Insomnia: the part anchoring plays in staying awake instead of being asleep


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More information about NLP

NLP - what's in it for me?

How to learn NLP

7 tips for choosing an NLP training provider

NLP Core Skills - our course in the New Forest

What people have said about our courses

By Reg Connolly, Director of Training, Pegasus NLP




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