The Pattern Interrupt
Sick of self sabotaging yourself? It’s time to implement a pattern interrupt.
The pattern interrupt is a NLP (neuro linguistic programming) technique designed to break your focus or commitment to a certain task.
Ever seen someone wearing an elastic band around their arm, releasing it upon themselves when they curse or talk about a certain subject? That’s the pattern interrupt in it’s most basic form.
Pattern interrupts are used in sports, business (particularly sales), but most importantly can be used in your life to erradicate any and all negative habits you may have.
From eating junk food to watching pornography or skipping the gym – a pattern interrupt can be implemented to keep you on track and stop you in your tracks at the first thought of performing your negative habit.
Examples Of Pattern Interrupts I Use
From my experience there’s no pattern interrupt that’s better than another – find and use a pattern interrupt that works best for you.
Here’s some examples that I use and have read about others implementing:
- Keeping an elastic band around your wrist and slapping it as needed (this is also called a thought stop)
- Saying a certain word out loud when the thought of a negative habit pops into your head
- Splashing water on your face
- Performing a power pose
- Stopping whatever I’m doing and proceeding with 5 reps of an exercise (push-ups, jumping jacks etc.)
How To Actually Use A Pattern Interrupt To Cease Bad Habits
As I mentioned earlier, the pattern interrupt isn’t only used for destroying bad habits – it’s primarily used as a tactic by salesmen to build rapport with their potential clients.
Utilizing the pattern interrupt for those means are quite different, however here’s how I use pattern interrupts for negative habits:
Decide upon your pattern interrupt
you can use different pattern interrupts for different negative habits if you wish – e.g. if you’re thinking of eating junk food you could slap the elastic band on your wrist, meanwhile if you’re about to skip the gym you may choose to splash cold water on your face.
As long as you’re able to identify which interrupt is for which habit you’re golden, if not using one pattern interrupt for all negative habits works too.
Make your action of choice a trigger
Using our pattern interrupt to simply stop whatever we were about to do is good, but it isn’t enough. Your pattern interrupt should also act as a trigger for your (positive) replacement habit or action. In my book, Becoming A Lion Among Sheep I discuss triggers in depth, in short a trigger is the action or movement that sets of your chain of positive habits – like the first domino hitting the others, commencing a chain reaction.
Put it all together
Once you’ve decided on what pattern interrupts are set for your bad habits and you’ve set a positive habit or action as the trigger of that interrupt it’s time to put it into action! Here are a few examples of bad habits with pattern interrupts, triggers and positive habits:
Pattern Interrupt Examples
Pattern Interrupt Example 1
Skipping the gym
Splashing cold water on your face
Grabbing your gym bag and getting in the car
Pattern Interrupt Example 2
Negative self talk (convincing yourself why you can’t do something)
Slapping elastic band on your arm
Listing 5 reasons why you can achieve your goals
Pattern Interrupt Example 3
Ordering takeaway food
5 jumping jacks
Defrosting one of your pre-prepared meals from meal prep earlier in the week (if you haven’t done this use the jumping jacks as a trigger to get in the kitchen and start cooking a lean, mean meal).