No matter why a client walks in my door, there’s one consistent message I’m delivering. “You aren’t broken. There’s nothing wrong with you.” I specifically separate the “be” from the “do”.
I base this message on a presupposition of NLP that says, “People are not their behaviors.” You are not depressed. You “do” depressing things. You aren’t an obsessive compulsive. You “do” something over and over again. It’s like brushing your teeth. It’s a habit. I brush my teeth every day and no one calls me an obsessive compulsive. You are not an alcoholic. You “do” drinking really well. In fact, you have mastered it. Whatever the complaint, I’m always stating this fact very clearly. You are not the problem. The behavior is the problem.
When people think about changing themselves (or others) they often feel it’s an uphill battle. But changing a behavior isn’t so hard. Behaviors change all the time. Our behaviors change each time we do something new. We are constantly making new neural pathways every time we learn.
Isn’t it obvious that to change the bad behavior, we just need to learn something different? We need to learn a new strategy of how to do something different. We need to change our behavior. It’s really that simple.
So, how do you think you do it? There’s a small percentage of the population that can change a behavior instantly. Those aren’t the people who walk in my door though. Most people change their behaviors gradually. It’s like getting into a cold pool. First you put your feet in and splash them around so you get used to the water. Then, you take another step further into the water and get your legs wet. One more step and you’re up to your hips. It’s at this point in time that some people start jumping up and down to introduce the cold water to higher and higher parts of their body (while also producing internal heat). Last but not least, they get their heads wet. For me, I like to turn behavior change into a challenge. A 4weeks2success challenge to be exact.
There are two types of 4weeks2success challenges; progressive and continuous. In a progressive challenge you want to either increase or decrease a behavior over the four weeks. For someone who is trying to exercise, this might mean walking a certain distance the first day and increasing it each day until she’s reached her distance goal then increasing the number of minutes she jogs during her walk. For someone who is trying to reduce the amount of food they eat or alcohol they drink, it means having less each day for the 4 weeks.
In a continuous challenge, the goal is to do whatever the new behavior is every day for 4 weeks. This might be praising your staff, giving a kiss to your wife, or taking 30 minutes to connect with your child when she gets home from school. The goal is to make the choice to do the new behavior each and every day.
So when stuff is going wrong, give yourself a 4weeks2success challenge. When things are going right, that’s when you can become a “be” again.
“I’m being grateful”
“I’m being happy”
“I’m being confident”