Where is the Why?

Let’s delve a little deeper into how to change negative behavior in ourselves or another. We have talked before about how well the process works with a child. The good news is it works with adults, too.

As parents, we know that nagging our kids to stop doing something doesn’t really work. They either argue back, make like they are paying attention but continue with the action or behavior, or ignore us altogether. Whichever the response, the result is the same: No change. We do the same thing to ourselves, when we “nag” at ourselves to lose weight, quit smoking, whatever. So, how do we go about changing negative behaviors that could be holding us back?

First thing to remember is that, as human beings, we think in pictures. (While you read words on a page, or hear words, your mind is translating them into pictures, immediately.) How we interpret those pictures is reflected in our beliefs, and our beliefs are stored in our subconscious – forever. Ultimately, we act or behave based on those beliefs. So, if we want to change behavior, we need to change the beliefs – and we do that by changing the pictures.

Now, to change a behavior, the current behavior needs to be recognized and called out. Then we need to halt it with, “Stop it. I am (or You are) better than that.” Getting the behavior stopped is only part of the answer, because the current belief/picture that you want to change is still dominant in the subconscious. We need to provide a replacement picture of what we do want.

So, it’s “Stop it. I’m better than that,” and then you provide the replacement picture. “The next time,” and you go on to describe what that next time looks like. “The next time, I will remain calm when somebody cuts me off while I’m driving.” “The next time, I will order salad instead of a hamburger.” “The next time” provides the replacement picture of what you want.

The challenge is you need to really mean it. What is the personal pay value behind the change you say you want? Where is the “why” behind the pictures? “I am a defensive driver, and remain calm during stressful traffic situations, because I want to get home to my family, safe and sound.” You get the picture.