Adopting New Habits
The New Behavior Generator is a Neuro-Linguistic Programming visualization exercise to help you adopt a new habit. It could even be a new attitude and pattern of thinking or way of acting in your daily life.
Perhaps you’d like to speak with more confidence, or be more proactive about something rather than procrastinate…
Maybe you’d like to enjoy making physical activity and or healthier eating a more consistent part of your daily life…
Whatever change you’d love to make, the simple and powerful visualization will make it easier.
This is one of my favorite techniques to use — both personally and professionally — since it is so versatile. It’s an extremely easy and useful way to help a person transform a variety of areas in their life.
Numerous studies have shown the power of visualization and mental rehearsal to improve performance, be it in athletics or the performing arts.
All the more reason to see what this visualization practice can do for you!
You can do this visualization at your own pace after reviewing the following steps or you can use the New Behavior Generator Recording I’ve made for you found in my Meditations Shop.
How to Prepare
✦ Make sure you won't be disturbed for at least half an hour. Sit or lay down while still propped up comfortably (laying completely flat encourages sleep so it's best to avoid for meditation and visualization), then begin.
✦ First, pick a behavior you’d like to adopt. It may be something that seems like:
- A quality you’d like to integrate into your personality (e.g., positivity, confidence, being more patient or outgoing, an attitude of gratitude, etc.)
- An ability you would like to have (e.g., communicating your boundaries to another person clearly, hitting high notes when you sing, dancing like
no one’s watching, etc.)
- A habit you want to implement (e.g., stopping when you’ve had enough to eat, waking up earlier to work out, etc.)
✦ Ecology check — check in with yourself and make sure that you believe the new behavior is in line with your most enlightened sense of morality and safety. Ask yourself:
- “If I were to adopt ___________ (e.g. this specific way of thinking, behaving) would there be any downsides to it?” (For yourself, your life or anyone else in your life?)
- If so ask “What would I need to do to be able to ___________ (avoid, prepare, handle it)?”
- If there’s still any hesitancy or reluctance, consult with a mental health professional who can help you resolve this conflict before proceeding. My services, for instance, may be of help.
✦ Now pick someone who already has the quality of behavior you want for yourself. This person will be your role model. It doesn’t have to be someone perfect, you will only be choosing someone for the specific thing you want. There’s no need to focus on anything else but that. It can be a person
you know of in real life — a friend, family member, co-worker — or even someone you’ve never met but could picture how they’d behave. Perhaps a celebrity (like Oprah — who doesn’t want to be more like Oprah?), or a character from a T.V. show, movie, or even a book that you’re pretty familiar with.
Here’s a brief summary of the exercise: You’ll begin by picturing the role model you’ve chosen who already has the trait(s) or habit(s) you’d like. At first you will imagine seeing how they act. Your attention will be focused on the exact qualities you want to integrate. Then you will see yourself portraying the desirable traits or actions of your role model. Like many NLP techniques, it is easiest to use if you record the instructions for yourself, use my New Behavior Generator Recording, or have a professional practitioner, close friend, or supportive team member run you through the steps.
Always remember that you do not have to visualize things perfectly clearly, as if you were watching a movie in HD, or seeing a dream. Using your imagination means seeing things to the best of your ability. That could mean seeing flashes of images in your minds eye. This may look like glimpses of an old silent movie that’s pretty dim and blacking out every once and awhile. Your experience could be more like you’re sensing what you’re imagining; like you’re getting a feel for how your role model would behave and what that would mean for you. Perhaps you’re getting more feelings than you are images, and that’s just as good. If you can think of an apple and tell me what color that imaginary apple is, you can do this exercise!
Using the New Behavior Generator
1. Close your eyes and think of the person (i.e., role model) who has the behavior you want for yourself. If there are multiple role models that come to mind, do a few complete run-throughs of the exercise; sticking with just one of them at a time.
2. Imagine you're watching a short movie of that person in action, displaying the behavior. If you’re watching for how they keep a habit or prepare for a performance, the movie can cover a period of time in addition to seeing the habit or performance in action. You could see this person acting out this role in your own life. Watch them handling a situation as you would like to be able to handle it. Or you could see them keeping a habit in your own daily life (e.g., waking up in your bed, going to your job, parenting your kids, etc.).
3. Pay close attention to how they behave, especially whatever you need to see them perform in order to adopt the behavior you want. Notice the details like...
✦ How they look — their facial expressions, body language, and posture.
✦ How they move their body when they sit, stand, walk, and breathe.
✦ What they say.
✦ How they say it.
4. Decide whether you are satisfied with their behavior and really want to integrate it. Remember, no one is perfect, you don't have to adopt everything about this role model. Pay attention to the specific qualities you wish to adopt and nothing that doesn't serve you.
5. If you don't think they're the best role model to use, choose someone else and start again.
6. If you are satisfied with your choice, run through the movie again, but now imagine being in their shoes. See out through their own eyes. Think as they would think, feel as they would feel.
7. Pop out of their first person perspective. Now imagine that the qualities you needed from them just got put into your own mind and body. See how their qualities and behaviors would translate into your own personality. Notice how this looks in your ways of breathing, moving, speaking, etc.
8. Make sure any of the old behaviors you were wanting to let go of stay gone. See them replaced with the new qualities you want. If you see any unwanted behaviors, instantly watch what your role model would do or say. Then morph the image of your role model back into an image of yourself acting that same way. Adjust any negative aspects of your own behavior (e.g., saying, "I can do this!” instead of “I can’t do this!” etc.). Change one thing at a time until you like what you see and hear.
9. Now imagine seeing the movie of yourself with the new behavior(s) from your own eyes. Really imagine thinking as you would think. Feel as you would feel. Breath as you would breathe. Think of moving as you would move in the situations you need to run through.
✦ Running into any difficulties trying to imagine what it’s like to have your role models qualities in your own first person perspective? Ask yourself what your role model would do if they were you in the moment you’re imagining. Then do your best to imitate them.
✦ Make any refinements you need to. Run through the movie as many times as you need. Do this mental rehearsal until you feel confident you have a strong sense of having adopted the new behavior. You can always do more sessions to get it down even more over time.
10. Open your eyes and return to the present moment as the 'new you'. Take a moment to smile and feel grateful for what you've done. Honor the fact that you've integrated new behaviors and attitudes. Look forward to the benefits they'll bring into your life.
11. Get up and walk around as that new person, and notice how it feels.
12. Anchor the feeling. You can do this by making a gesture that feels natural to express the feeling. Or you can say a phrase that will trigger your mind to feel the feelings again later when you want them.
13. Take any necessary actions to begin using the new behavior as soon as possible. For instance, actually practice singing and dancing if that’s what you were going for, or attend an event where you’ll be sociable to test out your confidence in speaking, etc.
Modeling On The Fly
If you find yourself in a situation where you need extra help to embody a role model's resources in the very moment you need them, you can quickly and easily:
1. Imagine your role model standing a couple of steps in front of you, facing the same direction that you are.
2. Step forward into the imagined hologram of your role model's body. Now deal with the situation as if you have become that person for the time being. Adopt whatever would be useful: posture, way of moving, speaking, breathing, etc.
3. If taking a physical step isn't practical, imagine the role model's body floating towards you until it blends with your body (like the scene in the movie Ghost where Patrick Swayze blends with Whoopi Goldberg in order to dance with Demi Moore).
4. This is a simple visualization technique — nothing more. You are free to use it as long as it suits you. You are free to feel like your normal self as soon as you’d like.
Like Anchoring, the New Behavior Generator can be used alone or with complementary techniques (e.g., Physiology and Acting As If ) to create whatever changes you wish. You can always consult with me or another professional NLP practitioner or mental health professional for more help. There are many success stories of people simply deciding to change and then acting like the person they want to be. This can be a quick and simple way to adopt a new way of being until it feels like it’s your very own.
Let me know what you think of this post. Make a comment or contact me if you have any questions you'd like me to answer. If you found this information to be helpful, go ahead and share it on social media or with a friend who could use it.