It is not unusual for me to work with people who complain that they know that their behavior is self defeating yet are unable to change the very behavior that they long to change. The results are that these behaviors become more entrenched. So is it possible to become more of the person you truly want to be?
Let’s begin to answer this question by taking a closer look at why people who want to change behave in ways that sabotage change ever taking place. For most people, the mere mention of the word change can make them feel uneasy. They fear an unknown future that presents no guarantee that their life will be better. The alcoholic who wants to give up drinking takes one more drink and spirals downward, The over weight person wants to be in better shape, yet procrastinates about getting started in an exercise program. The burned out worker who can’t say ‘no” without feeling guilty, keeps piling on the work against his better judgement. Many people want a better life, but find it hard to follow through with the necessary changes to achieve the desired results.
Change rarely occurs fully on a single first try. More often than not, behavioral change occurs in small increments, over time. Big changes attempted all at once are resisted most vigorously. In order for changes to become intergraded within the person’s personality, he or she must go through various stages of small increments. Also, most people, when attempting change, tend to move back and forth from old and new behavioral stages. It can seem like taking one step forward and two steps back.
Unfortunately people get hard on themselves when experiencing setbacks, thinking they will never change. They fail to realize that going back and forth is normal until the change becomes fully intergraded. Movement can be so incremental that it can seem undetectable when it happens. In spite of any frustration or disappointment one may experience with the slow progress of achieving wanted change, try not to be ridged on your strategy to achieve change. If one way doesn’t work, try something new. What works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for the other. How you get there doesn’t matter as much as perseverance and a consistently clear vision as to your ultimate goal.
Any questions, comments or suggestions can be directed to Ray Shocki PhD, LCSW, LMFT at firstname.lastname@example.org