In article <1993Jan25.firstname.lastname@example.org> email@example.com writes:
> I would be very interested in finding out what people think
>are the best ways to change habits. ( I'm not talking about ...
Some NLP [Neurolinguistic Programming] perspectives on changing behaviors:
1) It can often be difficult to simply extinquish a behavior. But it is usually not too difficult to replace a behavior by an alternative one that the subject finds more attractive.
For instance, if you discover a better way to drive to work, the first morning or two you may forget and still go the old route, or maybe start to turn in the wrong direction and then have to correct yourself. But within a week or so the new habit will have become as automatic as the old one used to be.
2) Verbal self-instruction is usually not an effective way of getting oneself to remember to do a new behavior. Repeatedly telling yourself ``Tomorrow morning, remember to use Oak St instead of Grove St,'' for instance, will probably not work all that well.
What usually works a lot better is mental rehearsal, which in NLP is called ``future pacing.'' There is usually one little key piece that needs to be changed in order to change a behavior. Mental rehearsal is most effective when it ties this behavioral chunk into a cue that one can rely on being present.
For instance, one doesn't really need to mentally imagine going through the entire drive to work. It's only one key intersection that's important. If you realize that you always notice the Safeway when you get to that intersection, then you just have yourself practice seeing that Safeway and then turning left instead of right.
A post-hypnotic suggestion is basically this same sort of thing.
Instead of using a cue that already exists in the environment, sometimes people like to create artificial cues for themselves, such as tying a string around a finger.
In doing therapy, instead of merely making suggestions to a client for a desired behavior, it is much more effective to ``future pace'' them by mentally taking them through the new behavior. ``Now imagine that you're at home tonight and the phone rings, and when you pick it up you hear your ex-husband's voice. Now imagine saying to him blah blah blah...''
3) It is axiomatic in NLP that the process the brain goes through to perform an overt behavior is not very different from the process for an ``internal behavior'' --- cognition or emotion. Consequently, the rules are basically the same whether the habit one wants to change is an action, a thought, or even a feeling.
For instance, the NLP Swish Pattern is claimed to be highly effective in dealing with nail biting. The undesired behavior in this case is an action, but the replacement behavior is a visualization. As the subject sees his fingers approach his mouth (the cue), he has learned to have a mental image of an ideal self come to mind --- ``The you that no longer has a problem with nail biting.''
4) It is a good idea to be as precise as possible in identifying an unwanted behavior. For instance, a therapist can ask something like ``When you say that you keep thinking about X, does that mean that there's something that you often say to yourself, or something you hear said in another person's voice, or is there some image that keeps coming to mind?''
Sometimes it can be sufficient to change the tone of an internal voice even though the actual words remain the same.
5) Static visualizations or simple repetition of affirmations are not very effective. It is better to use dynamic patterns that teach the mind to move quickly from a cue to a desired new behavior.
6) In many respects the brain operates very fast, so in order to teach a subject a new pattern it is essential that they go through it very quickly --- often in a matter of a second or so.
This is essential in many NLP techniques such as the Fast Phobia/Trauma Cure and the Swish Pattern. You need to keep pushing the subject to go through the pattern even faster.
7) There is a tendency to think of the word ``reinforcement'' as referring to things which the subject finds desirable. In fact, especially as concerns the internal level, what seems to be true is that the mind is drawn toward intensity, whether the subject identifies it as pleasurable or painful.
In particular, for most people the mind will be drawn to images that are bright, large, and close rather than to dark, small, and distant ones. Loud sounds are likely to be more compelling than soft ones. (Other ``submodality'' distinction such as pitch, rate of speech, sharpness of focus, and three dimensionality, are more likely to vary from individual to individual.)
8) When a certain threshhold of intensity is reached, however, the mind reaches overload and shuts down to a particular stimulus. This is the basis for the behavioral technique called ``flooding.'' NLP has a refinement of flooding called the Compulsion Blow-out. Some NLPers claim to have been successful in using the Compulsion Blow-out with full-blow obsessive-compulsive disorder. 9) In order to learn an external behavior --- for instance, dancing in a certain style or even something like small talk --- it is often useful to have the subject imagine watching someone who is very good at that behavior. The subject then changes his ``internal movie'' by replacing the image of the other person by an image of himself behaving in the same expert way. As a final step, once he can easily visualize himself doing the desired behavior he can ``step into'' (or ``associate into,'' as NLPers say) the image and imagine actually performing the new behavior.
It is a poor sort of skepticism which merely delights in challenging those claims which conflict with one's own belief system. --Bogus quote