By Dr. Mark Wiley
Negatives thoughts and feelings can be paralyzing. In fact, psychological distress can kill you according to a disturbing study on how negative emotions increase your odds of death from heart disease.
So if you think that being sad, nervous, anxious, depressed, or fearful is natural as a continuous state of being, you would be wrong.
The problem is that most people don’t know how to turn off the negative feelings because they are based on negative internal dialogues and images. Fears, worries and anxieties about the past, present and future are unhealthy and harmful. But you can change your feelings on your own, with a simple technique known as the NLP Swish.
See a New You…
Visualization is a powerful tool we can all use to improve our lives. Sports psychology has used it for decades, having athletes visualize themselves performing the perfect tennis serve, playing the perfect game, effortlessly running through the marathon finish line. Bruce Lee was so good at visualization that when hospitalized from a broken back he was able to visualize himself running long distances and actually had a physiological change wherein his legs were toned from running and his body sweating.
Now for our discussion here, this type of deep visualization is not necessary, but being able to see yourself in a new scenario is. And your life could depend on it…
Our perceptions form our reality and our thoughts inform our perceptions. Various internal and external thoughts about things trigger our feelings about them, which then perpetuate our reality; the life we live.
The NLP Swish technique uses visualization to transform your negative feelings around specific issues to transform your reality. In other words, it creates a new you by changing your thoughts and feeling in reference to negative triggers.
Identify Yourself Differently…
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt worried, anxious or fearful — and completely powerless? If you cannot change the past, and believe you can’t change the present or future, you dwell on the past, fear your current situation, and feel anxious the future. This could be around a job related issue, or about a relationship, your loved one, your health — anything, really.
If you were more confident, or assertive, less passive, more in-tune with events, would you still feel as upset? Perhaps not. And using the NLP Swish technique will help you become a person who is stronger, more confident, less worrisome in specific scenarios. Thus, it changes your identity around those issues, and changes your reality.
Simple Swish Technique…
The NLP Swish technique is a very fast method of altering how your negative feelings, worries and anxieties affect you. There’s nothing magic about it. It’s just an easy, simple technique for disassociating negative emotions and replacing them with powerful new images and feelings.
The Swish technique is simple, requiring only that you “assemble” four points in your mind. Once you get the four together you are ready to go!
Part 1 – Preparation and Set-up
- Identify the unwanted feelings around a topic via the negative thoughts, anxieties, and worries you may have about it. In other words, what is the thought or feeling you want to replace? (e.g., you may have a fear of flying).
- Identify the triggers that “set off” the negative thoughts, feelings and emotions. Most people see in their mind or imagine something happening that then becomes the trigger for the negative feelings and emotions. (e.g., buckling up in the plane seat and hearing the voice announce takeoff).
- Identify the reality of the negative emotion with a check or review of facts. (i.e., the reality of flight is that less people die annually in airplane crashes than car crashes, so being fearful of flying because of a potential crash, is not based in reality.)
- Identify how you wish to feel instead of how your feel now. In other words, exchange the feeling you get now from the trigger with what you’d rather feel when confronted with the same trigger. Visualize this enough so you can feel empowered and in charge rather than helpless in the situation. Be sure you “see yourself” in that image. (e.g., you are calm and peacefully sitting in the seat in anticipation of a smooth flight to see the kids).
Part 2 – Employ the Technique
- Think about the image that triggers your fear, worry or anxiety. That’s it; simply get the image or scenario that triggers your negative emotions in your head.
- See this trigger image as a movie screen and place a pop-up window somewhere on the screen, over a part of the image. In this new window will be the replacement image of who you want to be in that scenario.
- Quickly enlarge that pop-up window image, making it bigger and bigger, until it covers entirely the negative trigger image.
- Take a fast “break” and look around the room, at a photo on the desk, a crack on the wall. Something you can look at quickly to break your mental state for a moment.
You need to repeat about 5-7 Rounds of this portion of the exercise to lock-in or anchor the new program. But remember to do them fast, and during each round try to move more quickly through the process. The pop-up window expands quicker and quicker with each round of visualizing.
Part 3 – Test the result
Now that you’ve done 5-to-7 fast rounds of the Swish technique, you will change your “state” by distracting yourself for a few moments. You can look at the clock or out the window or straighten something up in the room. Just enough to move your mind off the exercise and change your mental state.
When you’ve done this, go ahead and recall your trigger memory/thought again and see how you feel now. That is, recall that same negative image that is the trigger for your worry, anxiety or fear and see if you react to it in the same way.
At this point, if the technique was done properly, you should not have the same negative emotions triggered. If this is the case, you are done! You can move on with your day or you can repeat the process with another emotional trigger.
However, if the issue was very deep and long-standing or if you did not fully invest yourself in the Swish process, you may still feel some residual negative emotions when visualizing yourself in the trigger state. If this is the case, go ahead and do another 2-4 rounds, quickly. Then distract yourself for a moment and test again.
All should be well. If not, give yourself some time to practice, or you might want to consider additional methods, like the EMDR technique I wrote about that employs special eye movements to help ease trauma, enhance happiness and create positive energy.
Relax as you do the Swish process, as there is no need to struggle to “make it happen.”
Do not accept and fully experience the negative emotion to a degree that feels crippling. Simply visualize it, seeing yourself in the scene, and then begin the process once you are triggered.
Remember to have ready the empowered feeling, and sense of who and what you want to be, that you would prefer to experience when faced with the trigger, so you can reprogram yourself into that new you in the process.
Have fun and good luck. And if you need more assistance with this NLP Swish technique, there are plenty of tutorials online to look up.