Last week I asked you to choose one new behavior that reflects your most positive self-image and reinforces the belief that, “Who I am is enough!” Did you make your choice? If not, take a moment and do so right now.
Once you have your choice in mind, think of a recent situation where you could have used that behavior to feel more peaceful and empowered than you actually ended up feeling. Then walk through a visualization of that same situation using the following 5-step process, as a “practice run” for using it in real time as you begin to actually use that new behavior with others.
5-Step Process For Initiating New Behaviors With Confidence
- STOP! BREATHE! FOCUS! This has to be the first step, so that you give yourself the space to become conscious and aware of both your feelings and your higher purpose for accessing and practicingyour new behavior.
- What is My Desired Outcome? This is to remind yourself of that higher purpose, and your clarity about its importance to you. Your behavior is NOT about other people and their reactions to you. Your behavior is about your greater good, and your positive belief in yourself that “Who I am is enough, and I deserve to be treated as such – first and foremost by me, myself!”
With your desired outcome clearly in mind, take another slow, deep breath and initiate the new behavior. Don’t worry if it doesn’t feel natural right away. You will be making adjustments as you practice and learn what language, timing or approach works best for you in which situations.
Do you notice any unexpected reactions in the people you’re interacting with? If so just think, “Well that’s interesting! That’s what I was/wasn’t expecting them to do/say.” Don’t analyze it any more than that – just allow the reaction to be what it is, and be mildly curious about it without needing to know what’s going on in the other person’s mind. Remember that you are not responsible for other people’s reactions – to you or to anything else!
- Be aware of any inner turmoil you feel, and breathe through it. Inner turmoil, when you’re behaving in a new way, simply reflects a change in yourself; it does NOT mean what you are doing is wrong! This is a very important piece, so I want you to understand why this inner turmoil sometimes happens.
Our systems react with confusion and uncertainty whenever we do something differently. The first reaction we have is that it is “wrong,” and the thought pops into our heads that we are “supposed to” and “should” do what we’ve always done (even if what we’ve always done was unhealthy and emotionally harmful!). So this step is about sitting with the conflict and NOT acting on it by going backwards.
- Write down your feelings after each time you engage in your new behavior, or find that you were unable to do so. This step will help reinforce your awareness and learning. You will gain clarity about what you did that worked, and what you think needs adjusting. It is about increasing your awareness, about which thoughts and beliefs encourage your new behaviors, and which ones undermine you. This step is not about beating yourself up! It’s about learning and growing.
- Take your time and be patient with yourself. New behaviors require practice, practice, and even more practice, if they are to become habits. Life offers up many opportunities to utilize our new awareness and practice our new behaviors. Remember to focus on the one behavior that feels most important to your overall growth and change. Even if in the moment you forget to practice your new behavior, trust that you will have another chance. This is all about evolving and growing, not instant perfection!
Once you’ve “rehearsed” the process using that situation from your recent past, go over the steps in your mind until you can remember them easily. Print them out if that will help in the beginning. Then as you go about your day and week, look for opportunities where that new behavior would really be perfect for improving how you feel about yourself. Remind yourself of the 5 steps, then actually initiate the behavior, and follow the process in that real-time situation.
Go for it – you can do it! Don’t worry if you do it “perfectly” – however it goes, allow it to be just the way it is each time, and don’t criticize or second-guess yourself. Just know you are learning a new skill and your progress is inevitable as long as you keep at it.
Repeat this process – either in real situations, or in your imagination – several times a day over the course of the next 28 days if possible. Remember, it takes 28 days to make this new behavior a habit. Sooner than you think, it can be a natural part of your automatic self-care toolkit, always there when you need it!
And remember, go easy on yourself if you don’t see the instant change we’d all like to experience! Take heart and know that you, above all else, are worth your time, energy and love. Know that you are engaged in this process of reclaiming your self-esteem for your greater good, and the greater good of your life!
Let me know how it goes! I love getting your emails describing the positive changes you’re making, and especially where you hit stumbling blocks. My goal is for you to succeed, and I’m here to help with an insight or thought-provoking question that addresses your particular situation, so please don’t hesitate to ask – and yes, I really will respond!
Until next week,