Elephant, Rider and Path – 3 Ways to Change Behaviour

Elephant, Rider and Path – 3 Ways to Change Behaviour


There are 3 basic ways to change your behaviour, ideally you want all 3 to work together, that’s when you get effortless, easy change.

Imagine an elephant, with a rider, walking through a forest. The Elephant is your unconscious mind. It has huge power, and it has it’s own desires and wants. The Rider is like your conscious mind, you can steer, cajole or beat the elephant to go where you want, but if the elephant wants to go in a different direction, the tiny rider alone will have a hard time turning him around. The Forest is your environment, the path that you walk. You can shape the environment to steer the elephant onto a path, and keep him there.

Working together

Ideally you want the elephant and rider to be friends, to want to go in the same direction, to work for the good of each other. The rider must take care of his elephant, to be sure to feed him and nourish him so that he is strong and healthy. The rider can also shape the path for the elephant. Choosing a path that is challenging but not too hard, and even shaping the path so that the elephant can get through easily.

How to care for your Elephant.

1. Know where you want to go.

This one seems obvious, but it’s one that many people get wrong. They know what they want to get away from, but are not really clear about where they want to go. Know your destination! 

2. Become conscious of the direction of your unconscious mind.

Notice your thoughts and feelings, acknowledge them, do not stuff them down inside and ignore them.

3. Feed your unconscious mind good food.

This means actual nourishing food, (omega-3’s especially) and nourishing thoughts and ideas. Avoid filling your mind with stories of war, depression and struggle. Choose to seed your mind with ideas of hope, overcoming adversity and inspiration.


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4. Become friends with your unconscious mind.

One of the greatest hypnotherapist of all time, Milton Erickson said that clients are only clients because they are out of rapport with their own unconscious minds. Learn to be friendly with your own well of power within, use meditation, yoga or hypnosis mp3’s to regularly create a feeling of calm transcendence, so you get to know your wisdom within.

5. Pick one change at a time.

Do not attempt to change everything at once. Pick one change to focus on at a time. You can pick a big change or a small change, but just pick one! Here’s a list of some changes you might like to make one at a time.

6. Shape the path for an easy ride.

If you want to make a behaviour stick, you and your unconscious mind need to both want the outcome of the behaviour, and you can make the journey to change easier by enlisting the help of your environment. Put your alarm clock in your gym shoes by the front door if you want to teach yourself to get up early to exercise. Have a trainer or buddy to meet at a certain time to enlist accountability. Throw out the junk food in your house. Fill it instead with nourishing, healthy food.

Path shaping is a very important part of behaviour change, because it can help you to overcome the inertia of change and help you get momentum in the direction you want.

Overcoming Challenges with Change.

If you’re struggling with your changes, you’re making a mistake in one of these 3 areas. Ask yourself:

  • Am I crystal clear about the direction I want to go?
  • Am I completely congruent with the result I want?
  • Is there any part of me that hesitates or doesn’t want this?
  • Is there any possible negative outcome I imagine that could come from achieving what I want?
  • Can I make it easier for myself to do this behaviour?
  • Can I enlist help, accountability or incentives for myself?
  • How can I remove obstacles and distractions?
  • How can I make this behaviour the most appealing and easiest option for myself?
  • How much do I really want this?
  • What would it mean to me to achieve it?

Join the conversation.

What are your thoughts on this? How have you shaped your path to help yourself make a behaviour change easier?


Comments (1)

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