NLP Techniques

A Pattern Interrupt to Change a Strategy

A pattern interrupt is a way to change a person’s state or strategy. We all have behavior patterns that are habit sequences or mental pathways. It is also a great way to induce trance. Milton Erikson used the handshake induction as a formal pattern interrupt.


Usually habits are useful. Auto pilot means our brains have become so efficient at doing something we can tune out our conscious minds.

We get dressed, drive, walk, clean our teeth in ways that don’t need much mental attention. Rapport is tuning in to another at an unconscious level.

But patterns can be our downfall too. We can eat mindlessly and therefore overeat. We can tune out important people and not hear important messages. We can exercise without paying attention and damage bits of our bodies.


broken-chainA pattern can be interrupted by any unexpected or sudden movement or response. Have you ever messed up someone’s story by asking a question for instance and they can’t remember where they were?

They experience momentary confusion, and sometimes even amnesia. Have you ever started to do something and after being interrupted can’t remember what it was? This confusion state can make you open to suggestion – we are willing to trade our uncomfortable state for another’s clarity.


It is useful to interrupt your own or someone else’s when stuck in an unresourceful state. Like getting caught in a negative spiral when things don’t turn out as we want. Or even when we are stuck in a rut.

What are some things that you can do to interrupt your own state?

  • Humor and laughter are great pattern stoppers. Choosing to see the funny side.
  • Going for a walk or taking time out when stressed or angry.
  • Going a different way to work.
  • Taking a week off from a usual activity such as watching TV.
  • “Sleeping on it” for a creative solution, rather than plodding on.

Here is a piece of humor for a different perspective.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Related Posts