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Pattern Interrupt in NLP

Pattern Interrupt in NLP and how it can affect your NLP practices are some of the curious thoughts I had while explaining NLP to one of my friends.

What is pattern interrupt in NLP? When is it useful?

As the name suggests, Pattern interrupt in NLP disrupts an individual’s typical pattern of thinking and behavior. 

For making changes to happen, we need to make the subject open for new changes.

Pattern interrupt in NLP destabilize individuals’ habitual thinking and actions and make them open to new changes.

Unstable behavior patterns are much easier to change than stubborn and stable behavior.

Existing behavior can be stubborn and ingrained so deeply with the subject, there is great resistance to change.

Pattern interrupt in NLP puts subjects in confusion or in limbo and makes them open for changes.

Methods of pattern interrupt in NLP?

Pattern interrupt in NLP can provide great leverage for learning and changes, here are some of the methods of pattern interrupt in NLP.


Blocking pattern interrupt in NLP is one of the most direct pattern interruption methods,

You simply block the subject from completing their behavior pattern and direct them towards something else. 

Understanding NLP eye accessing cues will be an advantage for blocking, you can simply move your hand towards their face and change eyes position to change their internal representation system.

Some examples of Blocking are

One of the clients had a strange problem of hearing disturbing sounds often during the day. The NLP practitioner observed that just before he heard those sounds he would touch the right side of his face. 

In the next session, the NLP practitioner grabbed his hand and gently asked questions like about the weather, general news, and his locality. Blocking his hand disrupted his pattern and was open to changes.

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Diversion as the name suggests redirects the behavior and thought pattern to something else and not completely blocking.

Diversion using the stimulus does not block the subject’s pattern but overrides and draws focus to something else. In the process, the subject’s strategy gets disrupted, and they may even forget what they were thinking. 

You can use NLP eye-accessing cues for diversion, with the use of your hand or head you can change the position of their eyes. It can disrupt their strategy and give you time for diversion to something else for the subject.


Overloading occurs when there is too much information to be processed by the representational system of the subject.

A simple example of overload is when in a noisy place you will find it difficult to listen to your own internal dialogue.

As a result of overloading, the subject finds it difficult to complete his behavior process and his strategy gets disrupted.

Understanding NLP representational systems and NLP submodalities will be beneficial for overloading your subject.

You can overload information like color, brightness, volume, tempo, and other submodalities to the maximum.

Where the subject is convinced his behavior is positive but requires to be changed overloading is the best tool.

Confusion Technique

The confusion technique of pattern interrupt in NLP, is largely borrowed from the works of Milton Erickson, his hypnotic language patterns can be used here.

For example, if you are in a session with the subject where he/she is continuously talking and not getting anywhere, you can gently touch the subject and ask “Which time were you touched more time the time last you were touched?”

It will confuse your subject a great deal, and he/she will lose focus on his/her existing pattern, as their conscious thinking is now trying to understand what you just said.

Where to use pattern interrupt in NLP?

You can use pattern interrupt for the stubborn subjects or subjects with strong behavior patterns that need to be changed.

Combining pattern interrupt in NLP with other techniques like swish, change personal history and NLP anchoring can give you the best results.

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