As you grow older and hopefully wiser do you ever shock yourself when you realize that you sound just like your parents? If you’ve ever caught yourself looking at the world just like your parents do — a point of view that you no doubt used to find hopelessly old-fashioned and out of date — you might suddenly feel old or, sick worse, rx unoriginal. Here you’ve spent years rebelling and trying to break the familial mode just to find yourself parroting your folks!

If you’ve ever found yourself in this spot just take a deep breath and relax! Things are not as bad as you think. From a human development point of view it’s actually quite normal for us to look and sound like our parents when we reach a certain age. The question is why.

Think about this scenario: when you were a child your parents were probably in their 30s, 40s or 50s. As a child you are very impressionable and you observe and absorb the personalities of the people around you. In animals this process is called “imprinting.”

What you’re really absorbing from your elders is a blueprint for how people think and behave when they reach a certain age — say 35. It’s only natural that when you reach age 35 you automatically assume the mannerisms and personality traits of the people you observed as a child. You’ve been programmed to do so.

But don’t give up hope! Just because it’s natural for you to act and sound like your parents doesn’t mean you’re doomed to live their script the rest of your life. It’s never too late to change your imprinting — that’s what role models are all about.

By consciously searching for and identifying personalities that you admire and desire you can change the way you think and feel. Here’s a simple way to start that process:

1. Find someone who has personality traits you would like to have in your life. This person can be a real person, TV character, or book character.

2. Identify a few mannerisms, modes of dress, or behaviors that are unique to that person.

3. Begin integrating those unique traits into your daily life. It can be as simple as using a hand gesture or wearing a particular article of jewelry. Even wearing the same type of cologne or perfume is often enough to bring the entire set of personality traits into your life.

Be patient with this process. It may take a few days or a few months for all of the traits you desire to show up. You’ll be surprised and delighted, though, at how quickly you can achieve very real and substantial results with this process. Enjoy!