NLP SWISH – Changing Unwanted Behaviours & Feelings for Better Ones

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Picture of basketball swishing thorugh the hoop and netting.This is a simple technique that is very good at changing undesirable behaviours and feeling you don’t want into desirable behaviours and feeling you do want. It uses visualisations. You create two pictures or movies.
  1. A black and white one of the undesirable behaviours and feeling.
  2. A colour one of the of the desired behaviour.
Then in your mind’s eye you imagine the trigger event and the unwanted behaviour it causes and when it is about to climax, SWISH! The black and white picture or movie is overwritten with the colour picture or movie of how you want to behave and feel. Rinse and repeat.

How Does SWISH Work Explained

How does this work? Well, trigger events that cause unwanted feelings and behaviours become an automatic reaction if they happen enough times. You know the great amount of stress you feel when a deadline is approaching or when your boss calls you in for an appraisal? Automatic reaction to something that happens often right?

So, what we are doing here, is creating the behaviour or feeling you do want after the trigger and telling your subconscious. If this new behaviour is repeated enough times after the trigger the same thing will happen, it will become and automatic response. Undesirable feelings and behaviours you react with will become desirable behaviours and feeling you want to respond with.

Example of NLP SWISH

  1. Identify the unwanted behaviour, action or feeling you want to change and also how you want to behave, act or feel instead.
  2. Identify a trigger event that causes the problem.
  3. Now close your eyes.
  4. Imagine in your mind’s eye paint a vivid picture (or a movie) in black and white with a dark frame of the trigger event and the undesirable behaviour that results. See yourself being triggered and see how you behave in full detail.
  5. Open your eyes for a moment (3 – 5 seconds) and close them again.
  6. Next imagine in your mind’s eye you paint vivid picture (or a movie) in full, vivid colour, with a light frame of the desired behaviour. See how you want to react or behave after the trigger. You can shrink it down in size to a small postage stamp in the bottom corner.
  7. Open your eyes for a moment (3 – 5 seconds) and close them again.
  8. Start again with the black and white image and when your reaction is bout to climax , SWISH the postage stamp to full size in full colour. You may even want to make a sound like SWISH as you do this. We always want to move between these two moving from the black and white, dark framed, unwanted behaviour to the full colour, light framed, wanted behaviour. See yourself in your mind’s eye SWISHING.
  9. Open your eyes for a moment. Close them again and SWISH again 5 times.
  10. Discuss what you have just done with your therapist and how you feel about it.
  11. Now we test the results.
  12. Close your eyes and try to see the picture (or a movie) in black and white with a dark frame of the trigger event and the undesirable behaviour.
  13. If you can see it repeat the SWISH another 5 times.
  14. Repeat the test until you can’t see the picture (or a movie) in black and white or until it becomes so diminished it is hardly there at all.
  15. Congratulate yourself on changing that unwanted behaviour.
  16. Repeat this exercise as many times as you wish.


Dotz, T. Hoobyar, T, Sanders, S. (2012) The Essential Guide to Neuro-Linguistic Programming HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Kitching J. (2019) The Diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy & NLP Kindle Edition.



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