NLP, or Neuro Linguistic Programming, is a system for optimizing the brain for success and fulfillment. The NLP Swish Pattern is a fairly simple tool that can assist you in replacing an unwanted behavior, habit or outcome with a new one. Here’s how it works:

1. Get Clear on the Issue

Identify both the unwanted behavior/outcome and what you would like to experience instead.

2. Identify the Choice Point

Pinpoint the moment at which you get triggered into the unwanted behavior. For example, if you’re choosing junk food over healthy foods but would rather eat healthy, it could be the moment you think of your next meal, or the moment you open the fridge.

3. Create Your Ideal Outcome

Next, take some time to imagine your ideal outcome; for example, yourself at your ideal weight, eating healthy naturally, feeling energized and happy about the change you’ve made. Draw details from the times in your life when you were successful at your goal, or from people you admire who are successful as you would like to be. Be as detailed as you can, and really feel the positive feelings.

4. Amplify the Positive

As you create and energize this ideal scene, notice where you are feeling the positive feelings in your body the most, then double them… now triple them. Assign them a color and make it brighter and more beautiful. To continue with the example, see the vivid scene of yourself energized, eating well naturally, feeling healthy and looking your best. Make this picture brighter and more vivid and interesting; now double the brightness… and triple and quadruple it.

5. Setting up the Swish

Go back to the cue or choice point you identified in step 2; see yourself being triggered to eat junk food, but this time place the beautiful, bright image of your desired behavior and outcome in the bottom left corner at around postage stamp size. Next, shrink it down to the size of a dot, as if it were stretched as far back as possible in an extremely powerful sling shot aimed right at your old habit. Meanwhile, make the old, unwanted scene get dimmer, less colorful and less vivid.

6. Making the Change

When your desired image is pulled back as far as possible in the sling shot, let it fly forward and take the place of your old habit, behavior and outcome. See and feel the impact of this change as vividly as possible; see the old unwanted image fading to nothing as it is obliterated by your new, empowering picture. Immerse yourself again in this new pattern as vividly as possible, relishing all of the positive feelings associated with your change.

7. Repeat for Success

Now, repeat steps 4 through 6 nine more times for a total of 10 swishes.

Rewriting an old habit does take some persistence and willpower, but the NLP Swish Pattern can help. Use this simple but powerful tool to support any positive change you’d like to make in your life.