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  • Writer's pictureTom Robinson

World Mental Health Day 2021 & a recap of NLP lesson 5!

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

It was World Mental Health Day yesterday (10th October 2021) and I had originally planned to write a masterpiece to coincide with it but then contracted shingles and changed my mind!

I have been scratching and itching and waking up in pain in the night so have had to prioritise my health (this could potentially set off the highly sensitive bipolar brain) and step back significantly.

I did very little over the weekend except rest, watch the tennis from Indian Wells, finish my shaman book, and lie in the garden, but this morning I am determined that it’s ‘business as usual’ so am adding an update from NLP lesson 5 before the next one this afternoon.

Hopefully, this disgusting virus will piss off this week so that I can continue with the mass of writing and editing that I have to do on the book proposal and manuscript.

I will get a publisher and the perfect confessional memoir expert editor too, who will both see the importance of this and want to help me – It’s just a matter of time surely…. And this week would be perfect, then I can relax a bit and calm this bloody shingles down!!

NLP lesson 5

Last week we started to learn some of the techniques involved in NLP; specifically, how to change people’s internal representations (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, gustatory, olfactory) by using the submodalities to change the meaning.

It is all beginning to make sense to me now, but I have to confess that NLP is far ‘wackier’ than I ever imagined it would be, but I do kinda like it!

The techniques we looked at were:

  • Contrastive Analysis

  • Mapping Across

  • Swish patterns

  • Dissociative Techniques

  • Perceptual Positions

These are some rather complicated terms for some quite simple techniques but I’m still going to have trouble explaining them in words so I’m adding a photo of my notes below in an attempt to add some clarity!

Changing submodalities

The first technique is used to change someone’s unwanted ‘like’ to a ‘dislike’ so that they can modify their behaviour and stop doing it.

The idea is that you choose something disgusting to then perform a ‘contrastive analysis’ & ‘map across’, to make the submodalities of the disgusting thing match the subodalities of the ‘like’.

This should then mean that the person decides they don’t like the unwanted ‘like’. See I told you I couldn’t explain in words!

My partner for the practice was Ciara who chose biscuits as her unwanted ‘like’ and I think she chose eating dog poo as her ‘dislike’ – honestly NLP is so wacky – I told you!

The role play went well until we got to the ‘break’ bit (where according to the notes, you’re supposed to ‘break state’ and ask them about the weather. I asked her where in Ireland she lived, and it turns out she lives almost next door to my friend in Waterford!

This disrupted the flow somewhat!

Anyway, as you can see from the photo above, I changed the submodalities to match the unwanted ‘like’ for the ones marked with a green arrow – these are what NLP calls the ‘drivers’ (the submodalities that are going to effect change because they were different responses from the initial questioning).

I’m not sure it worked very well because I was a bit rubbish with my questioning, but we got an idea about how to perform it which was the general aim!

Hopefully, with a bit of practice it will become a bit more effective!

What is Swish Pattern and when do you do it?

The next technique we learnt was the swish pattern which we spent quite a while practicing.

I have added my notes below to explain what it’s all about.

Notes on Swish Pattern

The swish pattern is a classic NLP technique that is most often used to help people overcome automatic habits that are hard to let go. Nail-biting, overeating, and sudden emotional reactions are a few of the many swish-able problems.

The swish pattern is one of the techniques that falls into a category of Neuro-Linguistic Programming called submodalities, which refer to the qualities of our inner imagery, sounds, and feelings. Once we understand the structure of our thoughts and feelings, we can then change that structure.

The swish pattern is one way to alter our inner world that happens to transform unwanted habits.

How to perform a Swish Pattern.

Step 1: Identify an unwanted behaviour/response

Check to discover whether you respond “normally” to size and brightness in the problem context: increased size and brightness yields a more intense response.

Step 2: Cue Picture:

a. Discover visual cues occur immediately before the unwanted behaviour/response. For example, with nail biting, you'd want to identify when you bite your nails. (This puts you into the appropriate context, so that it will be easier to answer the next question.)

What do you see/hear/feel that makes you want to bite your nails? If you don’t know, and you can’t figure it out, you can pick a visual cue that you know has to be there. For instance, in nail-biting or cigarette smoking your hand has to come up to your face, and into your visual field.

b. Next, make a large, bright, associated image of what you see just before the unwanted behaviour begins. Notice what you see, feel, or hear, as you consider this question. Then, set this picture aside briefly.

c. Determine the positive benefits of the behaviour/response and make a list of these.

Step 3: Self-image Picture:

Make an image of yourself as evolved beyond this difficulty.

Consider how you would see yourself differently as a person if you had grown far beyond the unwanted behaviour, and you had many other choices about satisfying the positive benefits that we explored in the previous step.

This picture is not simply a picture of you not smoking, for instance, or doing any specific replacement behaviour, but a dissociated picture of yourself being a different kind of person—more capable, more expressive of your true self, and with more choices.

Make sure the picture:

  1. Represents qualities, not specific behaviours.

  2. Is a “you” who has many choices in satisfying the positive benefits.

  3. Is realistic and human, not perfect or infallible.

  4. Is dissociated (and stays dissociated).

  5. Is attractive to the you.

  6. Is not narrowly contextualized. Make the background as vague and undefined as possible.

Step 4: Congruence check:

As you look at this picture of yourself as you want to be, do you have any hesitation or misgivings about becoming this person? Does any part of you have even the slightest objection? Use any objecting parts to modify the image until all parts are enthusiastic.

Step 5: Set up: Make a large, bright, associated image of the cue (#2), and put a small, dark picture of the desired self-image (#3) in the middle of that image.

Step 6: Swish: See the picture of yourself as you want to be, rapidly get bigger and brighter, as the cue image shrinks and becomes dim and overwhelmed.” Use visual and auditory anchors—hand gestures and some kind of “swish” sound—for steps 5 and 6 to make it easier for you to swish rapidly.

Step 7: Repeat 5 X. Then clear your visual screen or open your eyes. Repeat this process 5 times, faster each time.

Step 8: Test:

a. Make cue image (2). What happens?

b. Behaviourally test by creating the external cue.


Today…we are taking a look at anchoring.

It really is quite wacky NLP but I am really enjoying the course and looking forward to trying out some more of the techniques!

If only there was one to get rid of shingles – maybe I can ‘swish’ to stop the itching?!!

Thanks for reading,

Speak to you soon,


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