by Christine Golden—NLP Practitioner
Save money by remembering reusable grocery bags. Most of the stores I go to give me five cents for every bag I bring in. That’s just five to fifteen cents for me, but it would be 50 to 75 cents for some of the families I see checking out. That’s easy money—if—we remember the bags.
Indeed, forgetting them may soon start costing us. California Assembly Bill 2058 would prohibit stores from issuing plastic bags unless they could prove they were recycling certain percentages. This legislation would require those stores to charge their customers at least 15 cents per plastic bag, some of which would go to local public agencies “to fund plastic bag litter reduction, cleanup, waste reduction, and recycling activities.” Cities and counties will be on board with this; plastic bag disposal is taking up increasing amounts of public sanitation budgets. California Chronicle (January 16th, 2008) reported that plastic bags accounted for 45% of the litter in a Los Angeles river cleanup several years ago.
Penalties are an effective, but painful way to change habits. And they add ill will to an already adversarial world. Why go through this? The following method takes about 10 minutes of uninterrupted personal attention, and you’re done. New habit installed.
Find some private time for yourself; before you fall asleep, in a hot bath, while you’re waiting somewhere. Close your eyes and run a quick movie in your imagination. From a distance, see yourself going to the store as you usually do. Picture different scenes; driving into the parking lot, pulling out the keys and rushing into the store. Then see yourself at the checkout counter. “Paper or plastic?” says the checkout clerk. What do you usually think and do when you realize you’ve forgotten those bags again?
Okay, now forget that movie. Bring your attention back to the present. After a moment, start making a new movie. Still from a distance, watch yourself pull into the parking lot, remove the keys and reach for the bags. Or do you need to walk around and get them out of the trunk? Either way is okay, make it reasonable for you. Are there any other details you need to work out to make using the bags seem do-able? Once you have the logistics figured out, you’re ready for the next step.
This time run the movie as if you are in it. Picture yourself driving the car. What color is the dashboard? Cloth, leather or vinyl seats? Is it sunny or rainy outside? Feel the temperature, see and hear the traffic. You pull in to the lot of your usual store and see the cart barn. You know—the metal pipe structure for grocery carts; it might have yellow bollards and a big sign. Or it might be run down and broken. It doesn’t matter; just get a good picture of it.
Find a parking space and stop the car. Hear your keys jangle as you remove them from the ignition. Reach for the bags. Are they all plain canvas? What are their colors and textures? Are they loose or all stuffed into one bag? Carry them into the store. They’re not heavy are they? The more you can intensify the sensory input; the better will be the results. Imagine yourself at the checkout counter. “Paper or plastic?” says the clerk. You pass along the bags and smile. You feel good. Let yourself bask in it for a moment. Count those nickels on your receipt.
Now forget this movie and come back to the present. Only one more step to go.
In the last step, you need to be the actor in the movie again, except now you run it double time. Then run it again even faster about two or three more times. And that’s it. Forget the whole thing.
If you really use your senses of sight, sound, touch and even smell, your unconscious mind will remember the bags as soon as you see the cart barn. If your store doesn’t have cart barns think of some other distinctive object to use as a trigger.
This process is an NLP technique called “New Habit Generator.” This will work on any simple, non-emotional behavior you want to add to your repertoire of choices. Maybe you want to remember to always hang up your towels, water the plants or take the trash out on Mondays.
Try it. Having more choices rocks!
About the Author
I am an experienced technical writer and researcher who aspires to creative and journalistic writing. I have a love of learning, an attentive and intuitive style and a sincere interest in the success and well-being of the reader. My predominant work experience is in Land Development and Construction Management within which is substantial experience with computer technologies and graphics. My education is quite varied beginning with a BS in Zoology and, over the years, classes in Neuro-Linguistic Programming from NLP Institute of California, Technical and Non-Fiction Writing, Stormwater Pollution Control and various software