The Structure of a Pattern Interrupt

Rintu BasuCase Study2 Comments

The last article about pattern interrupts provoked some questions. So much so I thought I would explain the structure of the technique and explain why it worked in a few cases and not all of them. In case you missed it, you can see the previous article on Pattern Interrupts here:

So Far Removed from Conscious Experience

My mother is fluent in English and Bengali. So much so that she can switch from one language to the other and back again without realising that she is doing it. Everyone that knows her ends up knowing enough of both languages to keep up with her. But in my younger days I loved watching her meet new people.

My mother would try very hard to stay speaking English but usually as she got in to a conversation she would forget and would switch to Bengali and then switch back without realising. From the other person’s perspective it would sound like they were in a normal conversation and then, just for a few seconds there would be a series of words that they just could not understand, and then the conversation would go back to normal.

Of course, being a little mischievous in my youth I would stand next to them getting in to the conversation, nodding along and pretending nothing had happened. Often I would see people glaze over and sometimes drop in to the deepest trances. Just like one or two people did in the video from my last article.

But in That Video it didn’t Work with Everyone


I once stood on Paddington Train Station practising instant trance inductions. I would approach people, smile, hold out my hand as if to shake hands (but it would be my left hand) and I would say something like, “Good Bye, I’m UpChuck and I need to know. What colour does your favourite TV Show smell of?”

Most of the time people looked at me like I was a loon and walked round me. Sometimes people would get confused about hands or the question and would then either avoid me, ask me questions / start a conversation or do something that was quite conscious. A few times people would just drop into trance for a few seconds, literally freeze or go inside to process what was happening and then pop back out again. These people I shovelled some positive suggestions at, wheeled round and set in different directions, got them to buy me coffees and generally had fun with.

Consider the situation where, like in the video a total stranger comes up and starts talking word salad at you. For some people this is completely outside their normal experience and it might drop them in to trance. Others might be a little more wary, or have encountered something similar, or are just less susceptible. And these people might not drop in to trance with this situation as easily.

The Structure of a Pattern Interrupt

The reason it worked so well for my mother was simply because the other person already had some idea of what was supposed to happen. And then something so strange and outside their normal range of experience occurs. That is what was creating the pause between thoughts.

The same was true of the Paddington Station scenario. The more I could pace their normal situation and then suddenly turn it bizarre the more likely I could drop them into a trance.

How is this useful for me?

In any sort of problem solving or change work there is usually some work that needs to be done to break the old patterns of behaviours, beliefs or thoughts before building new ones. A reason why a lot of personal development, coaching and training doesn’t work is because people build on their old thoughts, beliefs and behaviours. It is like pouring a cup of coffee in to an unwashed mug. Especially if you had soup or tea in the mug before you poured in the coffee you can be sure that the taste will show through. Pattern interrupts are a great way of breaking out of the old patterns so you can develop new and more useful ones.



2 Comments on “The Structure of a Pattern Interrupt”

  1. Dave Murphy

    Aha, now this makes sense.. and in a strange way I kind of always feel it best to play the ‘normal conversation game’ before turning on the ‘pattern interrupt machine’ and taking them somewhere new.

    Actually thinking about it makes me realize that pattern interrupts kind of  bamboozle people into trance or confusion at the best of times.. and that look of bamboozlement always makes me giggle 😀

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