Adopting New Behavioral Patterns Using Normalization

How shifting your mindset on a behavior, by thinking about it as if it’s a normal part of your everyday life, could decrease the difficulty in doing it.

  • Published: 2020-03-23
  • Updated: 2020-11-14
  • 3 min read

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