Using the Swish Pattern to Improve Self Esteem

In this blog I will be providing a little more detail about the interventions and approaches used in the Self Esteem workshop that I ran as part of my dissertation research. The day was broadly speaking split into three distinct sections, today’s blog will focus on session one.

Each workshop had about sixty participants some with knowledge of NLP and others with little or no knowledge on the topic. It was very important to me that we created an environment where everyone felt safe and supported.

 With this end in mind Joe and I set the scene and facilitated a get to know one another session. This included encouraging participants to share with the group why they had been attracted to this particular workshop. It soon became apparent that there were a lot of shared issues and values. This became the foundation, allowing rapport to develop between participants and with the trainers.

 As you would imagine we needed to define NLP and Self Esteem to ensure that everyone had a shared understanding. For me, healthy self esteem involves valuing yourself and valuing others. It is the balance that really counts.

 The first concept we introduced from NLP was the NLP Pre-suppositions. These are a set of underlying principles that are adopted as if they are true. By accepting these ideas we are accepting some potentially very empowering beliefs. The set of NLP Pre-suppositions we used were:

  • The ability to change the process by which we experience reality is often more valuable than changing the content of our experience of reality.
  • The meaning of the communication is the response you get.
  • All distinctions human beings are able to make concerning our environment  and our behaviour can be usefully represented through the visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, olfactory and gustatory senses.
  • The resources an individual needs to effect change are already within them.
  • The map is not the territory.
  • The positive worth of the individual is held constant, while the value and appropriateness of the internal and/or external behaviour is questioned.
  • There is a positive intention motivating every behaviour; and a context in which every behaviour has value.
  • Feedback vs Failure – All results and behaviours are achievements, whether they are desired outcomes for a given task/ context or not.
  •                                  Meaning is context dependant!

 The NLP Pre-suppositions and the NLP Communication Model were used to pre-frame the first activity, the Swish Pattern. For this version of the pattern we used images. The basic idea is for the participant to create a visual representation of themselves in the “problem” state. This image needs to be associated, from their own perspective, looking out of their own eyes. This is replaced with a constructed image of themselves this time disassociated, looking at themselves as if in a photo or video. This will be a version of themselves who has moved beyond the “problem”. In fact it is no longer a problem and has not been one for some time.

 The process involves teaching the participants how to replace the problem picture with the “resourceful” picture. This will impact on how they now perceive the old problem and themselves. For many of the participants this was directly related to issues of self esteem.

 Additional considerations were the original positive intention behind their old way of being and to ensure that the change desired is in their best and highest good. In NLP we call this ecology and it is about ensuring that there are no unhelpful un-intended consequences to the change.

 Read how some of the participants got on with this first part of the workshop, the following are quotes from the qualitative part of my research:

 Participant One – “During the Swish activity I learnt to replace the previous experiences of being quiet and not contributing with positive self-talk of the directors being interested in my contribution and considering my ideas. A vibrant image was created in my imagination which was a yellow parachute. This metaphor released so many positive and exciting feelings for me and reminding me the joy of facing challenges.”

Participant Two – “During the SWISH activity I focused on changing the way in which I interact with a specific person who makes me feel very uncertain of myself.  Having visualized our next encounter (planned for a couple of days after the course), I was able to play through an Adult/Adult conversation rather than the usual Critical Parent/Rebellious Child conversations which usually happen (with me being critical parent – defensive attack!).  Without realizing it at the time, when I met this individual, the whole tone of our conversation was different – and definitely more adult/adult.  So I’m going to continue to work on this for future interactions with him”.

Participant Three – “I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and it has definitely made a profound effect on my self esteem. My aim was that as a Reiki Master Teacher I wanted to do workshops myself but the thought of talking in front of more than one person terrified me. Just the thought of it sent me spiralling into panic. I felt physically sick when at the start of your workshop you said we were working towards standing up in front of a room full of people to give a speech. In fact I don’t think I heard another word for about 10 minutes!

Anyway, at my Wednesday evening meditation circle I decided to put it to the test and last night I stood in front of them (it was only 6 people but I couldn’t have done it last week) I couldn’t believe the difference I didn’t have any nerves at all in fact I was exhilarated by it – they were all amazed. I’m meant to be doing a Reiki Workshop in Bulgaria next April and now I can’t wait!”

Next week I will share with you the second intervention and the impact it had on participants.

About Melody @ GWizlearning

Melody spent fourteen years gathering experience of the business world working in banking, telecommunications and the public sector before co-founding The GWiz Learning Partnership in 1993. Melody has a Masters Degree in Applied Positive Psychology, a degree in Psychology and a diploma in Psychotherapy. She is an NLP Master Trainer which allows her to run NLP Practitioner, NLP Master Practitioner and NLP Trainer Training courses certified by the Positive School of Intrinsic Neuro-Linguistc Psychology. She is also a qualified Myers Briggs practitioner and EI practitioner and added to all this is five years Transactional Analysis training, meaning she is able to help organisations access the hidden potential in their staff. She is also in demand for her work in transforming average or even troubled teams into high performers. Melody is a visiting lecturer at University of East London, teaching "Wellbeing and Positive Psychology" to undergraduates. Additionally, she is a member of the CIPD and is ILM accredited. Melody's interests are many and varied. She has a keen interest in personal development, canine and wolf psychology, conservation, movies and running. She also enjoys western horse riding, walking the GWiz dogs, nature watching and stage combat (particularly sword fighting).
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