“Pattern Interrupt” is a term that I was presented with in one of my recent coaching retreats. It hit me like a ton of bricks. In the fact finder world I live in, I had to go straight to the internet to discover what this technique meant, and how it could benefit me and my clients in our weight control journeys.
I have been simply amazed at what I have found out.
Pattern Interrupt is as simple as what Kenny Loggins says above: a massive change of the old programming. Pattern interrupts interject an unexpected element into an old pattern and create a window of opportunity for restarting somewhere new.
Let me show you an awesome example of pattern interrupt as its happening. For any of you that are familiar with the movie “Almost Famous”, there is a scene where the band piles into a bus with their groupies and a first-time reporter after a brutal night that left everyone estranged. It seems like everything is coming unraveled. They travel down the road with eyes cast out of the windows in silence, when a song comes on the radio, “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John.
Watch this snippet.
As the song plays, one by one, the mood begins to change from anger and disappointment to harmony for each person. It’s not a conscious decision; it wasn’t planned. It just happened. The patterned responses that have developed over the years just melted away.
The scene is magical, the transformation very powerful. Why? At some point in our own lives, if we are really tuned in, we experience something similar. We might have taken years to form a pattern, but in a heartbeat we can open ourselves to the notion that we can choose to respond differently, to create a new pattern.
This process is called pattern interrupt and it is a term that is used in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). NLP explores the relationship between how we think (neuro), how we communicate both verbally and non-verbally (linguistic) and our patterns of behavior and emotion (programs).
NLP uses the pattern interrupt experience as a therapeutic mechanism to disarm a person’s knee-jerk defense mechanisms and programmed responses. In turn, the person can open themselves to new products, solutions, approaches or ideas.
Think of the patterns you have built as an old vinyl record. The more you play through those patterns, the more engrained they become in your brain. Now, imagine that you take a nail and scratch a groove across the record. The scratch changes the way the record plays just a little. Next, imagine that you take that nail and scratch the heck out of it. After a while, it would be so scratched that you couldn’t play it anymore.
If you use the pattern interrupt technique that is exactly what will happen. You won’t be able to play your old patterns anymore.
Here’s one example of the pattern interrupt technique: Imagine that you are sitting at your computer, and your pattern is to graze on food. What is the first thing you notice that starts the pattern? Is it that you get out of your chair for no reason and head to the fridge or pantry? Then you need to have something planned for that first moment when you get out of your chair. Find a way to interrupt that pattern before it plays out.
This video has worked for me.
Try not to laugh so hard at that one, it really works. Try it, I dare you.
What is one thing you can do that will interrupt a counterproductive pattern? When you find yourself slipping into an old pattern that no longer serves you, use your new inspiration to interrupt the pattern. Then, you can form new, healthy, productive patterns that inspire you.
Remember, visualizing the new patterns is almost as effective as actually doing them. Your mind cannot tell the difference between something that has been vividly imagined time and time again from things that have actually occurred. One good example of this phenomenon is Roger Banister. Before his breakthrough of running a 4-minute mile, people assumed it was physically impossible to run that fast. Roger believed it so strongly because he had seen himself do it so many times in his head. He envisioned it until the day he actually broke that barrier. Since then, there have been at least 336 other runners that have broken that barrier. All it took was the belief that the possibility was real. Roger Banister’s accomplishment helped other runners believe that it was possible.
One thing to keep in mind is that a pattern interrupt is not a new pattern. It’s only an event that breaks the stranglehold of the old, destructive pattern. It gives you a window to introduce something new. If you don’t take the opportunity to change the pattern, that window will quickly close, leading you to slide back into the same old, same old.
Your mission, should you decide to accept it:
Think of one bad habit you would like to change in relation to your weight control journey. Now think of how you can incorporate something else as a pattern interrupt for your bad habit.
If you would like to share in the comment section below, I would LOVE to hear what you plan to do!