How do we change? Can pretending to be someone else help?
The focus of the last few months of my daily walks and meditation has been how do we change, and more importantly how do we help others change.
Lasting change and habit-breaking is possibly the most important thing we as a human being can do to improve our lives and the lives around us.
I have coined the term micro-decisions to define the small decisions that makeup who we are. If you are good at these decisions, you probably have a good life. If you are not good at these decisions, you probably struggle.
I recently received a book, “The Alter Ego Effect,” by Todd Herman in the mail from one of my Mentors. In the book, Todd talks about how people throughout history have used alternate personas to achieve great things. Everyone from Beyonce to Bo Jackson, as well as many well-known business leaders and Politicians. Get the book here: The Alter Ego Effect.
Studies with children show that when you tell children to pretend they are superheroes, they work longer on puzzles and don’t give up on challenging tasks.
Looking over my life, I have realized I have used this as well. Even going so far as using totems that he mentions in the book. I remember watching the movie Inception, and when they spoke about totems, I was a little taken aback. The use of them in the movie is different than how I use mine, but I had no idea that this concept was out there in the world. I thought it was just something I did.
So how can we use this for habit change?
I think assuming another identity for a while could help many people break their patterns that they wish to change.
You know what the person you want to become does. So you would create a character that does those things. Then you would become that person in your mind when those situations present themselves.
Beyonce became Sasha Fierce when she first started performing pop music. Maybe you could become Peter Paleo when you decide it is time to stop with your current eating habits.
Anybody else use alter egos or have an example of this? Has it worked for you? Let me know.