pattern interrupt

pattern-interrupt as a phrase comes from NLP.

Quick Definition:

A break or interrupt in someone’s NLP pattern or routine sequence.
Full Definition:

An interrupt can come verbally or physically from the target, such as her throwing a hoop. “Excuse me for a second, can you get me a drink? I am thirsty”. It can also come from external interrupts, such as a CB, friend, the bar closing, or a need to use the bathroom.


I could not help coughing and I pattern-interrupted myself.

Milton Ericson:

Confusion technique

In all my techniques, almost all, there is a confusion.[11]

A confused person has their conscious mind busy and occupied, and is very much inclined to draw upon unconscious learnings to make sense of things. A confused person is in a trance of their own making – and therefore goes readily into that trance without resistance. Confusion might be created by ambiguous words, complex or endless sentences, pattern interruption or a myriad of other techniques to incite transderivational searches.

Scottish surgeon James Braid, who coined the term “hypnotism”, claimed that focused attention was essential for creating hypnotic trances; indeed, his thesis was that hypnosis was in essence a state of extreme focus. But it can be difficult for people racked by pain, fear or suspicion to focus on anything at all. Thus other techniques for inducing trance become important, or as Erickson explained:

… long and frequent use of the confusion technique has many times effected exceedingly rapid hypnotic inductions under unfavourable conditions such as acute pain of terminal malignant disease and in persons interested but hostile, aggressive, and resistant.

and another quote:

Changing a Strategy with a Pattern Interrupt

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.

A 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.

In my use, given that I don’t know NLP, I don’t know hypnosis, I just choose a different way to relate to myself or to the work at hand… that is my simple pattern interruption.

To take myself or another out of the groove they are experiencing their lives in.

Author: Sophie Benshitta Maven

True empath, award winning architect, magazine publisher, transformational and spiritual coach and teacher, self declared Avatar

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