Some may call it encouraging yourself, self-talk, but I like to think of it as conditioning. I believe self-talk and encouraging yourself are great to do in addition to conditioning. To me conditioning is a more whole person approach. It is applicable not only verbally but takes a physical action. My experience has shown me that the idea of conditioning is a method that can overlap with goal setting.
Conditioning in psychology is the belief that human behavior is learned and that it can be modified by rewarding or punishing a subject each time an action is performed. The principles of conditioning started with an American Psychologist Edward L. Thorndike. He developed the Law of Effect and it says that behaviors that lead to satisfying outcomes are most likely to be repeated, whereas behaviors that lead to undesired outcomes are less likely to recur. So what can we learn from this?
I have learned that it’s true we usually avoid things that cause us pain or an undesired outcome. As it is true that if we gain some type of pleasure or satisfying outcome then we will probably do the same thing again. An example would be an alcoholic that continues to drink even though he/she has been arrested, went to AA meetings, and has even went to rehab. Why is this? This is because the drinking brings a short-term pleasure and it outweighs the pain the alcoholic is experiencing. The pain and pleasure they experience is only a portion of why they won’t change. The deeper reasons I would argue; is their beliefs, values, purpose, and focus.
I am sure you or someone you may know can relate to that scenario and that is why it is good to learn about conditioning. One of my favorite experts, Tony Robbins uses Neuro Associative Conditioning (NAC) in his strategies to help people. NAC is based on Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). It is a process that conditions your nervous system to associate massive pleasure or pain with things to either avoid or achieve.
If you wish, you can read his books or blogs to find out more about NAC. If you have an area of your life you want to see change in or want things to be different then maybe my strategy can help you. My summarized system for conditioning is based on reading many books and my own personal experiences. It encompasses conditioning my circumstances mentally and physically.
- Purpose- Knowing my purpose. A person’s purpose it is usually defined by their beliefs and core values. Some people define purpose as their meaning or their why.
- Focus- Focus on things that fit your purpose and your life. Scripture reflection: Philippians 4:8 AKJV. Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
- Identify- Identify what you want different or to change.
- Establish- Establish the reason to change or have this difference. Everything it could cost you or cost others if you don’t change this behavior.
- Vision- Write down your vision of all possibilities and the positive things that could come from changing or creating this difference.
- Goals- Write down goals and actions that will make those goals achievable.
- Action- Take action and begin to eliminate negative things that keep me from achieving my goals. Even write down those negative things or those distractions if needed as a reminder.
- Monitor- Monitor your progression daily, weekly, or even get others involved if needed. You can create a checklist or a weekly survey to ask yourself. Accountability is a subset here.
- Evaluate- Evaluate your goals, visions, and actions to see if you are ready to reward yourself for achieving success.
- Reward- Reward yourself for your success. Rewards can come in many forms. It can be a hug from your spouse, a night out, a new purse, a vacation, or whatever makes you want to keep this new condition as a future example to yourself that you can succeed!
Note: You can start conditioning any step. If you are already focused, knowing your purpose then starting with Identifying. Continue these steps until you reach your goals.
I believe God designed us all with a purpose. We must understand we have a purpose, accept that purpose, and believe we can live with purpose. The expectations we put on ourselves can be too much and can actually become a barrier for us. Balancing those expectations with reality and positive outcomes feels to be the most productive. So, if you think you have to be perfect or think you are, your not. We really need to stop beating ourselves up over a perfection that doesn’t exist.
They say practice makes perfect, but perfection can only last so long because we are HUMAN. 🙂