I tried for a long time to be like other people. I constantly sought to emulate their behavior, hoping that some of it would eventually stick. Over time this had some pretty negative effects. It sucked away a lot of my self worth. I thought that if I couldn’t act like my heroes, then I was nothing. Looking back, I realize that what made them so special was their uniqueness, which they only got by being themselves. I’ve also realized that it’s not always unhealthy to want to become more like your mentors, so long as you’re going about it in the right way.
Trying to Act Like Someone Else
Emulating someone’s behavior is destined to fail. It’s not easy to act like someone, and even if you do manage it, you’re still just faking it. At best you’d end up feeling like a fraud at the end of every day. Don’t get me wrong, the fake it till you make it approach can work, but in this case it’s not very healthy.
I tried this approach. I had some friends who were really funny. Occasionally I’d run into a situation where I knew, if they were there, they’d say something hilarious. So I would say it instead. The reaction I got from people was invariably: “Dude, you’re acting weird, cut it out.” And they were right! What I said was totally out of place for who I was. In other words, I didn’t have the right vibe.
That’s the problem with emulating actions. Actions are just the tip of the iceberg of human behavior. The actual reason why any person does any one particular thing is almost unfathomable. Here’s some of the things you’re going to have to figure out if you want to learn to emulate people’s actions:
- Everything they’ve ever learned in their life
- The exact impact those experiences had, as well as how much they still affect them
- The genetics of their behavior
- Their personal belief system, including hidden limiting beliefs
- Their unique emotional cycle
- Their vocabulary and any colloquialisms they use to express themselves
- Their lifestyle and friends
- All of their goals and inner motives
That’s just the beginning. I don’t know about you, but I don’t even know myself that well. You can see that trying to emulate actions and behavior is a recipe for disaster. I always wondered why some people could be funny or keep their cool in certain situations, and I couldn’t. What I failed to realize was that it wasn’t their behavior that was funny, as I found out when I tried to emulate it. No, it was their vibe that made their behavior funny.
How to Emulate Someone’s Vibe
A person’s vibe is their energy. It’s that intangible charisma or lack thereof that makes or breaks people in life. It’s the “it” factor every good artist needs. Learning to emulate someone’s vibe is perfectly healthy. You aren’t trying to steal their personality or their jokes. You’re basically working with your own energy to shift it to a different level that’s closer to your ideal. The question is, how do you do that?
In order to match someone’s vibe, you have to see the world like they do. My favorite method involves imagining scenarios where our reactions would be largely different. I’ve mentioned how to use visualization before. It’s pretty easy, and you can use anyone, even historical or spiritual figures such as Einstein or Jesus.
Imagine yourself in a situation where your hero and you act completely different. Rather than focusing on what he does that you don’t do, envision how he sees the situation. Perhaps he’s dealt with the situation you’re facing many times already, and has adopted a healthier reaction. Try getting into his head as best you can.
Once you have a good feel for how he sees the situation, imagine yourself in the same situation with the new vibe. Forget about your mentor, just focus on you. Think about how you would act if you already had the appropriate vibe. Imagine it in as much detail as you possibly can. Journal about it. Create a ton of circumstances where the new you can shine. This is a powerful method for programming a new response habit.
Once you have enough visualization under your belt, immerse yourself in situations where you want your new behavior to come out. You’ll notice that it’s much harder to keep your vibe in reality than it was in imagination. That’s just your monkey brain talking. All it knows is what it’s learned, so it’s time to teach it some new tricks.
Hold on to your new vibe as you interact in the new situation. If possible, excuse yourself occasionally and go to the bathroom or another secluded area. Clear your mind and refresh your new vibe. This is one of the fastest ways to reprogram yourself, but it’s also one of the toughest. You have to really stick it out. Don’t give up, and you’ll be rewarded with not only new behaviors, but an entirely new perspective as well.
Consciously Creating Your Own Vibe
There comes a point where you’ll have grown so much that you’re not interested in emulating other people anymore. You’ll be the kind of person other people want to emulate. That doesn’t mean you’re done growing, though! One of my favorite things to do these days is to use the visualization method described above, but with a vibe I completely made up.
For example, lately I’ve been shifting to the vibe of polyamory, which involves multiple loving relationships rather than a single loving relationship. When I first set out to act on that choice, I experienced a lot of inner resistance. Society, family, and so on have programmed me for monogamy for my entire life. That’s fine, but it makes shifting to any other perspective pretty difficult. I felt like I was cheating and using people. Rather than being a victim of my programming, I chose to take control of it.
I sat down and visualized how I wanted to live my life. I imagined how much polyamory is in line with my ideal of oneness, and how I believe love should be freely given. I saw myself as a person who has so much love that he can love multiple people, rather than someone who uses women and throws them away. Slowly, my beliefs have started to change. Peeling off decades of conditioning is hard, but not impossible. I am now consciously choosing my values and my vibe. I’m still in the process of shifting them, but I can see the light on the other end of the tunnel, and it is grand.
The most important thing to remember is that you can not only choose your actions, but your beliefs and thoughts as well. I remember the premise of behavioral change from my psychology classes back in the day. You can get someone to do what you want by winning any one of three things: their mind, their heart, or their actions. Rather than working on other people, I’ve decided to use that principle to actively change myself.
I’ll leave you with a famous quote by Napoleon Hill: “What the human mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Makes you think, right?
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