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Swish stories and formats.

Running the Swish Successfully and Otherwise

Many people in the NLP community are willing to use the Swish as a stand alone process. They claim success using the Standard or Distance Swish by itself with a variety of habitual acts. Given the importance of protecting subjects’ higher level intentions and ecology, I wonder about the time frame in which some of these results hold up.

Here is an example of typical consequences of a stand alone Swish. During a short conversation with someone at their workplace, they mentioned that they bit their nails and had done since childhood. Was there a quick fix that would take less than 10 minutes? They were made aware of the lack of ecology but wanted to try it out. One Swish later, they stopped biting their nails. Three weeks later, the same person observed that since stopping biting their nails, they were aware of an uncomfortable state. The state went away if they brought their nails to their mouth. There was time to explore the state and do a full piece of work, so the person kept their nails and sorted out the underlying state.

Some years ago a student wanted to experiment using the Swish to find out if it was sufficient for him to stop smoking with no other intervention. This was an interesting idea. Usually, smoking is associated with lots of intentions for doing it, for stopping it and for participating in social and business milieux in which it does and does not take place. This is one topic where it is extremely useful to gather high quality information and make a systemic approach to change. The Swish can be an excellent end piece after everything else has been addressed.

The student who wanted to experiment chose the visual system for both representations. He chose separate images for a cigarette in the left hand, in the right hand, lit and unlit, in each case with the hand approaching his face. Then he ran the Swish separately for each image. He reported a few days later that for the first day he had been unable to extract a cigarette from a packet, but he still felt a strong desire to smoke. This is not surprising. When the student explored the rest of his own system and made changes with reference to smoking, he was able to give it up comfortably and congruently. He lost the physiological and state based desire, when the intentions for their presence were addressed. This complemented the initial Swish and he remains a willing and easy non-smoker.

Provided the Swish is used ecologically as part of a suite of interventions, it can be applied usefully to any unwanted recurring behaviour or state. It is best known for breaking unwanted habitual behaviour, but unwanted states can be construed as behaviour and will respond to a Swish. A Swish is a form of shunt, where one state is shunted directly to another, using representations with specific submodalities shifted at high speed. , 

Provided the Swish is used ecologically it can be applied usefully to any unwanted recurring behaviour or state Click To Tweet

Some say the Swish supersedes the N-Step Reframe – Not So.

The N-Step Reframe used to be called 6 Step Reframing, but Grinder changed its name. This is Bostic and Grinder’s N-Step instructions from p. 155 of “Whispering in the Wind”.

  1. Identify the behaviour(s) to be changed
  2. Establish a reliable involuntary signal system with the unconscious
  3. Confirm that there is a positive intention(s) behind the behaviour(s) to be changed
  4. Generate a set of alternatives as good or better than the original behaviour(s) in satisfying the positive intention(s)
  5. Get the unconscious to accept responsibility for implementation
  6. Ecological check

The N-Step Reframe used to be called 6 Step Reframing, but Grinder changed its name Click To Tweet

There is a belief in the NLP community that anything the N-Step Reframe can address, the Swish can change more quickly and with less effort. They claim that the Swish supersedes the N-Step Reframe and is therefore the process of choice for that class of problems. To address these opinions:

  • The N-Step Reframe contains ecology, consultation with the unconscious mind, access to and use of intentions. It requires a large enough frame to address any systemic elements that impact the proposed change. All the essential elements for a high quality, lasting change are inside the process. Of course it takes longer than a stand alone Swish. This is the difference between a complete intervention and one piece of an intervention.
  • If the comparison is restricted to personal change, and the N-Step Reframe is compared with a Swish performed inside an ecological framework as above, you are comparing apples with apples. Then the choice can be, what best fits this client, now?
  • Within the personal change context, the N-Step Reframe can accommodate a greater range of topics for change than a stand alone Swish. So can a Swish inside an ecological framework.
  • The N-Step Reframe was developed by John Grinder, directly from his unconscious mind and first published in “Frogs into Princes”. The story of the N-Step Reframe is told in full in Bostic and Grinder, “Whispering in the Wind”. The Swish came later, but to supersede the N-Step Reframe it would have to fulfil all the same functions. The N-Step Reframe has many more applications than the Swish. It lends itself to the creative process, facilitating ideas and designs, to business and commerce, managing people and projects. The principles can be applied to organising thought, teaching and learning and to anything where it is useful to work at the level of intentions, which includes most of life.

The N-Step Reframe contains ecology, consultation with the unconscious mind, access to and use of intentions Click To Tweet

Now that the framing for the Swish is in place, examples are given and common views are discussed, it is time to describe the Swish itself. This the model:

Instructions for using the Swish Pattern from First Principles (also known as the Designer Swish):

  1. Identify the behaviour to be changed
  2. Create an associated representation at the point of no return for commencing the behaviour
  3. Create a dissociated representation of the subject in their desired state
  4. Identify two analogue driver submodalities to intensify each representation
  5. Associate into the first representation
  6. Apply driver submodalities to reduce intensity of first representation to zero and…
  7. Simultaneously, apply driver submodalities to increase intensity of desired state representation to optimal intensity
  8. Return attention to the outside
  9. Repeat steps five to seven inclusive AT SPEED, two to five times, with a break between each cycle.
  10. Test and future pace.

Formats go into more detail and constrain the average user to following specific instructions, which may or may not suit the subject in front of them. The advanced user will be aware of the frames and extrapolate to the description above. They will routinely gather information and vary the details of the process to suit their subject.

Format for the Standard Swish:

  1. Identify the behaviour to be changed
  2. Create a large associated image at the point of no return for commencing the behaviour
  3. Create a large, close, dissociated image of the subject in their desired state
  4. Apply submodalities of size and brightness to intensify each image
  5. Associate into the first image
  6. Shrink, darken and move the first image down to one side until it is a black dot and…
  7. Simultaneously, from a black dot to the side, enlarge, brighten and move the desired state image to the centre of the visual field so it occupies the whole visual field while remaining dissociated
  8. Return attention to the outside
  9. Repeat steps five to seven inclusive AT SPEED, two to five times, with a break between each cycle.
  10. Test and future pace.

Format for the Distance Swish:

  1. Identify the behaviour to be changed
  2. Create a large associated image at the point of no return for commencing the behaviour
  3. Create a large, close, dissociated image of the subject in their desired state
  4. Apply submodalities of distance and brightness to intensify each image
  5. Associate into the first image
  6. Darken and move the first image far away until it is a black dot in the distance and…
  7. Simultaneously, from a black dot in the distance, enlarge, brighten and move the desired state image to the centre of the visual field so it occupies the whole visual field while remaining dissociated
  8. Return attention to the outside
  9. Repeat steps five to seven inclusive AT SPEED, two to five times, with a break between each cycle.
  10. Test and future pace.

A cautionary tale

Two of our graduates who attended our Trainers’ Training and became skilled trainers, decided to experience a different description of NLP. They each attended a second Trainers’ Training program with different organisations. Each of them, separately, reported the following event.

They were assessed on their training skills by Master Practitioners who were not trainers themselves. In each case, the Master Practitioner assessing ordered them to demonstrate a Standard Swish. Each candidate tried to find a demonstration subject for whom a Standard Swish would sit well. There were none in the available group. Each candidate framed his intention and found a subject who could work with a Swish in the visual system using other analogue driver submodalities. Each candidate presented his intention for using a Designer Swish in the visual system and explained, as if training a group, the ecology of his decision.

Each candidate was failed for not doing a Standard Swish. The Master Practitioners in question demonstrated a lack of awareness of the frames and context of the Swish, disregard for an ecological approach to demonstration subjects and an adherence to the content of procedures over utilisation of models that is deeply disappointing. Several years on, the two trainers remain confident in their own knowledge and do excellent work, one in NLP training and the other in arts and academic applications.

The function of learning NLP is to apply flexible models in varied contexts Click To Tweet

The function of learning NLP is not to collect a sheaf of paper with single application formats on it. It is to learn to apply flexible models in varied contexts, while working from first principles. If you re-read the N-Step Reframe and the Swish Model descriptions, it will all make sense in light of the framing and recommendations for the rest of an intervention earlier in this e-book. That is the class of information that students need in order to learn to work from first principles. It takes longer than collecting formats, but is infinitely more lasting and rewarding for the future. Formats are like recipes. You can make one dish from each. First principles can be applied together or piecemeal in conversation, at work, in the bank or on a boat. First principles are learned through a combination of framing and exploring multiple patterns through their models. The hands on experience of using them is like having a new format for every subject. You choose.

By Jules Collingwood, NLP Trainer

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Jules Collingwood

Jules Collingwood

Jules has been involved in training and coaching since the 1980s and brings a wealth of experience to her work. As well as training, she consults to business and senior management, where she specialises in systemic change and individual performance enhancement. She is a superb negotiator with highly developed skills in influential language patterns, which she uses to assist clients develop and achieve their plans. Jules also designs custom training programs for specific applications and is responsible for INSPIRITIVE's RTO compliance management and course accreditation.

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