Normalization is the process of shifting your mindset surrounding a new behavior, from something you have to do, because you want the benefits, to something you just do, without even thinking, because it’s a natural part of your life.
Think about all the behaviors you do each day that are already natural to you. Brushing your teeth, taking a shower, getting dressed, eating your meals. All these behaviors are natural, they don’t require any thought to complete, they are actions you take without even thinking about doing, or not doing them.
In this same way, you must start thinking about any new behaviors you begin, as natural. You must view them as a natural part of your life, as something you just do, not something you need to do. You must take the decision out of it.
The normalization mindset:
This behavior is a normal part of my life, I don’t think about it because it’s just something I do.
Normalization vs. the Default Mindset
Many people start something only to quit a short while later. For example, those who begin a new diet, only to stop after a few weeks. These people don’t think of their new diet as a natural part of their lives (they still think of their old diets as natural and their new diet is something unnatural) but as something they need to do in order to get something they want. Because of this mindset, they force themselves to take a particular action each time, each time they need to consciously fight against their emotions, and emotions are much stronger than an untrained will.
Motivation keeps these people going and gives them the strength to win against their emotions for some time, but after the motivation tapers off, so does the frequency of the new behavior. This is why most people quit after a few weeks (the time it takes for motivation to die). They were building a castle in the sand, using motivation as a foundation for their new behavior.
On the other hand, thinking of a new behavior as a natural behavior, is the same as building a castle on solid ground.
The power of normalization comes from not thinking about the action you need to take and just doing it. The power comes from taking the decision making, the thoughts, and the emotions, out of the equation. Each time you take action, you’re not forced to fight against your emotions, because you don’t even begin to think about how you feel in the first place.
Notes on Normalization
- Normalization should be something you do by default whenever you want to adopt a new, long term behavior.
- Create an affirmation or phrase to help you remember to think of the new behavior as a natural behavior. For example, “This is a natural part of my life” or “This is just something I do”. You can use the phrase until you no longer need it.
- The critical point will be the moment before you need to take action. If you let yourself dwell on the thoughts and your feelings surrounding the behavior, even if you end up doing it, you already failed. The reason is because you didn’t practice the mindset, instead you fought against your emotions, so you might have won, but you didn’t strengthen your mindset.
- Don’t try to block out thoughts about not doing a new action, instead starve them of their energy by not focusing on them. A thought pops into your mind and you just need to notice it and move on, don’t spend time focusing on it. It’s only a thought and it’s power comes from when you begin giving it attention and associating emotions with it. You’ll notice after a while, the less you focus on those thoughts, the less thoughts you’ll have surrounding the behavior, the same way you don’t have thoughts about not eating or not getting dressed.
- Like with all things, the beginning will be the most difficult, but the more you apply this mindset, the easier it becomes.