8 Reasons Why It's So Hard To Change Your Behavior

Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character. Character becomes your behaviour- that's my own twist to the chinese proverb.

 Changing your behavior is a self challenge which is not nearly possible, but also nor impossible, but I’m talking about long-term, sustained change, not short-run charge that tires out before any real change happens.
Woman - Credits to pixabay

The behaviour that needs change could involve diet, exercise, habits, dependencies or anything else, changing behavior is one of the hardest things any person can ever try to do. 

This has become a well-researched area and quite a lot is known about why sustained change is very difficult to attain. 

Here are eight of the reasons you miss:

1. You are motivated by negative emotions. 

Now it’s really understandable to think that only strongly felt negative emotions such as regret, shame, fear and guilt should be able to accelerate lasting behavior change as seen in movies, the opposite is true. 

Negative emotion will only push you to think about everything you are not doing, or feel like you are doing wrong, but it’s horrible fuel for changing behaviours, especially those that stick. 

Behavior change studies found that the consistently least effective change strategies hinged on fear and regret. 

As much as this sounds like a common expression, real change needs a positive platform to launch from; we need positive, self-improving reasons for taking on the challenge.

 2. You get trapped by thinking negatives only

Feeling negative about trying to change a behavior—any behavior—tends to foster all-or-nothing thinking. I'm going to just do it and change, and if I fail that means I just can't do it or will never be able to. 

All-or-nothing thinking is a big one, it straps us into a no-win situation, because your odds of attaining even the littlest of change for any behavior just aren’t very good. 

If we really want to change, one of the first things we have to do is take negative thoughts of the table and purge a few other thinking errors while we’re at it.

 3. You try to change all at once. 

Change a behavior is a big thing, no matter how little you think of a behavior, and it’s almost never possible to take all of it on all at once. We have to start somewhere with particular, workable actions. 

Rather than saying “I’m going to start exercising,” it’s “I’m going to start walking tonight after work for 30 minutes down the road.” 

Behavior change research suggests this is essential to success because you need performance targets to measure yourselg against. And those, too, should be realistic and specific.

 4. You neglect the right toolbox. 

If you want to change a car's tyre, you need the right tools. Why should changing something about yourselves be any different?

Call them tools or devices or whatever, the point is you need certain reliable self tools to support sustained change. 

Changing your diet requires, at minimum, that you find the knowledge about healthier ways to eat and a practical plan for making that happen. 

Maybe part of the plan includes keeping a crib sheet menu in the notepad on your phone, or daily reminders built into your Outlook calendar. 

Some of these tools will work for a particular person, while others work for the general public and available to anyone who needs them. 

We all need a toolbox of those supports to rely on during the long run.

 5. You try to Change More Behaviour than Necessary. 

If you can commit yourself to changing one behavior long-term, and really make it stick, that’s applaudable change. 

But trying to take on multiple behaviors at once is a sure as hell way to send all of them into coming back bigger. 

The resources we rely on to make change happen are limited: attention, self-control, motivation, etc. Trying to change too much places unrealistic demands on those resources and dooms the efforts you put in. 

We forget that the other areas of our lives keep spinning and also require those resources, so even just one additional behavior-change commitment is a big deal.

 6. You underestimate the whole process. 

Change is never just one thing, it’s a lot of connected things, and sustained change doesn’t happen without a process that wraps in all of the pieces. 

But the big picture is that long-term behavior change involves steps. It’s easy to fool ourselves into believing it should be so much simpler, but nothing about behavior change is simple. 

It’s a tough, process-oriented challenge to move the behavior needle even a little.

 7. You forget that failure is usually sure before a success story

If you try to change anything and fail, you’ve just proven one of the sturdiest truths of behavior change: failing at least once is part of the process, and it’s probably going to be more than once. 

Failing only tells you about what deserves your attention and energy in the next trial and the next. 

The Behavioural Change Scientists all put in failure as part of the process, and encourage those who would change to see failing as a step, not the end or an excuse to stop trying.

 8. You are not commited.

Finally, but even so most importantly, what the best of behavior change research tells us is that if we haven't made a commitment to accomplish whatever we want to accomplish, it won't happen. 

We need a "commitment tool" that firmly establishes what we're going to do and how we're going to do it. Everything else starts there.

Now that you are aware of how you can change your behaviour, put it into action.

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8 Reasons Why It's So Hard To Change Your Behavior 8 Reasons Why It's So Hard To Change Your Behavior Reviewed by Aremu Segun on November 10, 2017 Rating: 5

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