Nested Loops – NLP Metaphors


Nested Loops or embedded metaphors in NLP are when you start telling a story, a metaphor, or an anecdote, get 75%-95 of the way through it but don’t complete it before starting another story.  And then tell only part of a second story before moving on to a third, and so on. Only close them much later, by finishing the stories in reverse order.

By breaking the stories off the people know that they haven’t got the end of the story, they do not have a sense of completion, or even know the point of the story. They know that there is more to come. This creates states of anticipation, attention, curiosity and wanting to know more at the unconscious level.

Use them at the beginning and close them at the end of the training or subject to give them a sense of completion. It packages the experience and installs the information.

Make sure that your (and others) use of nested loops is ecological:

  • Pre check content bearing in mind the audience
  • Try them out on someone prior to using them in training, see what results that you get.
  • Try on the hat yourself as you are compiling the metaphor.


Benefits and Limitations of nested loops:

  • Stories create emotions and these help people learn and remember an experience.
  • You can elicit states sequentially so that you get to the desired end state.
  • They distract the conscious mind and induce trance.  Making it much easier for us to communicate with the unconscious mind and therefore improve learning.
  • Easy to embed commands and make suggestions.


Limitation is that it is important to make the breaks in the correct places otherwise they can appear clumsy.  Also they may not suit all audiences eg business audiences.


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