Changing Unwanted Behavior
In general, changing unwanted behavior involves three basic steps:
To know how ugly the behavior is and how much damage it causes to yourself and to others.
To know the damage caused by the behavior.
To know the benefits of new and different behavior.
It isn’t sufficient, however, that you “know” these things intellectually; it is important to know them by feeling them in the depths of your heart.
Autogenics can be helpful in changing unwanted behavior because you can use your autogenics skills to work through each of the three basic steps of change by actually feeling the elements of each step with the help of autogenic visualization and suggestion.
Of course, some long-standing personality problems have roots deep in unconscious conflicts, so you may need professional psychotherapy rather than autogenics. Still, even in these cases, the autogenics approach can be worth a try.
So here’s how to do it.
First, enter a state of relaxation by practicing your condensed autogenics formula. This is important because the next two steps (if done properly) will arouse considerable anxiety, and you need to be able to reduce that anxiety again with your autogenics skills.
Second, create a negative mood state in which you visualize the harmful and disgusting effects of the unwanted behavior. For example, if you bite your fingernails, see the ugly, raw nails; notice how uncomfortable and embarrassed you feel; see your fingers getting scarred and deformed. If you smoke cigarettes, smell the stench of the smoke on your clothes and body; see the stains on your fingers and teeth; notice your shortness of breath and coughing; visualize the poisons coating your lungs and other internal organs. After the intense negativity of this mood has been felt fully, reduce the anxiety with relaxation.
Third, contemplate how miserable and wretched your life will be if you do not change your behavior. For example, if you bite your fingernails, see yourself socially inhibited, fearful, and lonely, hiding your hands from view everywhere you go. If you smoke cigarettes, see yourself wheezing for breath and dying of cancer. Imagine your children suffering from their own addictions because of your negative influence. After the intense negativity of this mood has been felt fully, reduce the anxiety with relaxation.
Fourth, create a positive mood state in which you visualize the beneficial effects of new, healthy behavior, all the while your anxiety from the previous step begins to dissolve. For example, if you now bite your fingernails, see yourself as you could be with beautiful nails, moving your hands gracefully and without embarrassment. If you now smoke cigarettes, see yourself as you could be, calm and confident, relaxed and able to concentrate, free of frustration and tension, a positive influence on others.
Fifth, reinforce your positive mood with positive statements of validation. Repeat them several times. Create your own, or select from the following examples.
Be careful, though, not to tell yourself lies. If you try to claim that you have the most brilliant mind imaginable, that you will trample all competition underfoot, or that you will become the greatest such-and-such the world has ever seen, then such narcissism will lead you right into self-destruction and everlasting loneliness. But if you successfully complete the autogenics training, all the statements below are honest and humble reflections of the discipline, patience, and respect for your body that the training requires.
My confidence is strong and steady. I can deal with everything as it happens. I have no need for [cigarettes, coffee, alcohol, drugs, etc]. Substances no longer control me.
My [fingernails, hair, thumb] are[/is] an important part of my body, so I will care for them[/it] with kindness. I have no need to harm them[/it] or [bite, twist, pull, suck, etc.] them[/it].
I have no need to rush or be concerned about my speech. I can talk slowly and clearly. Just as I can take one calm breath after another, I can speak calmly, one articulate syllable at a time. I have no need to stutter.
I can work calmly and confidently. My mind will not wander. My self-confidence will not be bothered by small mistakes. I can meet all obstacles with confidence.
I approach all tasks with a calm focus on the matter at hand. I do not lose my concentration by distractions. I act with discipline and resolve.
I listen to and respect my own body. I can present myself to others with respect and dignity. I will listen to and respect others.
I can remain calm, relaxed, and composed in any situation.
I can dissolve tension and anxiety before it builds.
All cravings will pass within 10 minutes. I have the patience to remain calm and to wait.
My calmness and patience can result in compassion and understanding. I can get along well with anyone. I will return kindness to any insult.
My experience of peace and calm is not threatened by anything outside myself. I have no need for rivals; I have no use for jealousy. I wish good to all persons.
There are no “good” days or “bad” days. I can do what needs to be done at all times. I uphold my promises and value my word. In my relaxation, an unlimited source of ideas is available to help me.
Sixth, conclude with a simple closure to the relaxation session. Take a few deep breaths and affirm that “I feel / supremely calm.”