I have heard of this term for many years but haven’t had the urge or any reasons to understand it. I thought it is just another gimmicky self-help and personal development technique in the market. Somehow I was given a “Going for Gold – Change Your Life with NLP” material written by Jimmy Petruzzi. This material was sent to me as part of the Diet and Nutrition Advisor Diploma: Train to become a Nutritionist course I signed up to study.
Prior to this, I have borrowed a book on NLP but thought the book wasn’t written very well or perhaps at that point of time, I wasn’t ready to accept NLP or that I didn’t manage to grasp the concept very well. Somehow this Going For Gold article, although there are a lot of grammatical and spelling errors, the article was interactive or engaging. I was able to associate it to myself in one way or another. Perhaps it was written with personal experience of the author and along the line, there are few examples of his clients whose problems or issues resembled mine.
One exercise that I gave it a try but didn’t really expect any results out of it, was the following (all copied from this material, with my own input in response to the instructions given):
Here are the steps to the New Behaviour Generator: Technique to assist you in overcoming negative behaviour and unwanted bad habits. First decide on a behaviour you would like to change and decide on a new behaviour to replace it.
I have chosen to build a new behaviour to be an active person, to love exercise. The unwanted bad habit is to exercise with pain, less enthusiasm, and feel heavy. As a result, I give up the exercise within the first 20 mins or so. I want to replace this habit to an active me who enjoy the exercises with enthusiasm. I want to be able to do the exercise or workout in hours. One followed by another. I just want to be that active person.
1. Think of a time you demonstrated that behaviour you would like, or choose a role model that has the behaviour, skills or abilities that you want for yourself. i.e. confident, motivated, excellent public speaker.
A role model I have chosen is my former Manager, Josephine, who to me is someone who lives her life to the fullest, enjoy outdoor and indoor physical activities and enjoy meeting people. She is my role model and I really would like to be like her, to enjoy life as should have been. Have a big group of friends to enjoy similar activities, and not only able to survive in any situation but she masters it. It seems to me that there’s nothing impossible in her life. Nothing that she can’t do. A very bright person, good looking and confident.
I also thought about a time I demonstrated that behaviour, i.e. enjoyed an exercise or workout, That was few years ago when I was working in the same company with her, we both participated in the annual sports day, and we played netball. It was a team work and I was the defender of the team. We practiced every week to foster and nurture team spirit and cohesiveness. I was able to lose weight for that period of time due the fact that I was exercising hard, run hard without feeling much of the pain. I was having fun indeed. So I want to be that person again to do my daily routine exercise or workout at home. Yes, because I am not working now and no income, I have to cut back on these substitutable expenses. If I really want to exercise, I don’t need to go to gym or pay money to do that. I have the right resources at home, i.e. a TV set, a set of different workouts, space and most importantly time. I don’t have any reason that I can’t do exercise at home. Yes, there will need a lot of self-motivation to start the workout, and yes, there won’t be any other people whom I can talk to or connect with. It is all about myself. I do need to build this new habit into me. If I could, I would be able to do exercise no matter what the circumstances are.
2. Close your eyes and visualize yourself or that person in action. Watch it like a movie in your mind. See how you or they look, how you or they use their body, how you or they use their posture; how you or they stand, walk, and sit. Pay close attention. Hear how you or they talk, what you or they say, and how you or they say it.
And so I closed my eyes, and visualised myself doing the action. I was dancing gracefully to the workout on the TV set, I practiced the steps in my head, and I didn’t feel any pain in my legs, or felt heavy when I jumped up and down. I was able to enjoy the workout as I should be. My arms were swinging forward and backward whilst my legs were doing box set, or jumping, or skipping or even running. I then did the Salsa moves, and Cha Cha Cha. I was having fun doing it. And of course, I visualised myself to be slimmer me and able to move gracefully. I was all smiling when doing this.
On top of this instruction, I added additional element to it. Somehow I looked at the reality, the usual me. How did I normally behaved when I did those workouts. I was heavy, panting, painful legs due to the spurbony growth, and aching muscles. I didn’t enjoy the workout at all although I know I have to do it. I have to build the new habit, my mind instructing me. If I could get into the routines, I would be able to continue it everday. If I didn’t do it for one day, I should feel uneasy as if I didn’t brush my teeth in the morning, or took shower everyday, or ate or even went to the toilet like I have to whenever I have the urge. It should give me a cold turkey. But this is the big ultimate goal that I have set myself stopped before I achieve the goal. That is the real me. I am not committed to the goal and I am just weak. Will power!
3. Ask yourself: do you really want to adopt this behaviour to change the old one? Confirm that it is what you want for yourself.
Obviously I wanted to do that. I want that new me in that visualisation I had. I want to be that active person who recognise no pain during the workout but full of enthusiasm enjoying the workout.
4. See yourself as the model or yourself conducting this choice of behaviour. You have stepped into the role model’s place. You are watching yourself do as the model does. You have taken over the role and are acting exactly like your role model. Or imagine reliving a time you did the preferred behaviour.
When I came to this step, I had already done it in Step 2. So I just reinforced the image of me doing that.
5. Do you feel any negativity come up within you when you watch yourself? Any doubts that you are capable of doing as the model does or producing your new behaviour? Go through them one by one and adjust them, or adjust your action in the movie, until you are happy with what you see and hear in this new behaviour. Feel positive and confident in your abilities.
When I watched myself in that visualisation, I didn’t see any negativity. However when I took that reality steps, I did. I saw the non-committal me who just gave up after 10-20 mins of workout, because I was telling myself that I was out of breath, and my legs were painful.
6. Mentally step inside the picture. You are now inside your movie image, looking through your own eyes. You are no longer watching yourself. You are doing the new behaviour just as you did it in the past or the model did it. How does it feel to perform this new behaviour or be this person with these new behaviours? How does your body feel? How is your posture? What do you hear? How does your voice sound to you?
Again, I have done it in Step 2. I felt alive doing the workout, sweating and energised. I heard myself laughing and saw myself smilling.
7. Imagine a future situation where you want to behave this way. Put yourself there. Look through your own eyes at this situation. You are the star of this movie and behaving in the new way! Is it all working? Do you need to make any adjustments?
8. Open your eyes and come to the present moment.
9. Imagine that you are now the new you with the new behaviour. Get up and walk around as the new model. Walk the walk and talk the talk as they say. How does it feel? Building new pathways in the mind is a great way to adopt a new behaviour, one way I like to put it is re patterning existing negative thought process and replacing it with a more productive level of thinking, even by doing this technique it can be powerful enough to move us forward into a more productive thought process and outcome.
So I have followed through step 1 to 9, but it didn’t just stop there. I didn’t think of what I have done would bring any results.
Yet when it was already 4 pm in the afternoon and I felt that I needed a break from the laptop and the virtual world, I changed into my exercise gear and turned on the TV and the workout channel, almost habitually. I chose “Pump It Up Dance workout”, which I had been doing for the last few days without success. It was a high intensity workout which I normally could only last for about 7-10 mins before I paused to take my breath or changed to another workout. If I could continue, I would only do so for another 5 -10 mins as I was too tired to follow through then.
Somehow this time, I was doing it with energy, and the first break I had was in about 20 mins after some jumping and running. I drank water, and took my breath and continued on for another 15 mins or so. I have stepped into a workout zone which I haven’t done or even seen before as normally I would have either changed to watch another channel or to an easier fitness ball workout, which I didn’t manage to last for more than 10 mins. Cheating myself I guess.
Although I didn’t finish all the sections of the workout, i.e. I had skipped the peak of the intensity of the workout at the 40th minute, I still managed to do a full 1 hour workout intermittently.
I didn’t realise the impact of this new behaviour visualisation until I went to bed that night, still marvelling at my great effort in the afternoon. I was thinking of that moment when I felt great when I was taking a break, that first drop of sweat dripped from my forehead and I felt alive! I hungered for more sweat and I wanted to do more. So after a few mins break, I continued on with the workout. To taste more sweat. I want to feel wet, not pornographically, but really sweat wet.
I will from now on visualise this exercise and feeling every day so that I could build this new regime, new habit, new behaviour in my life. I will remember that taste of first sweat in my workout yesterday!