How do we change a behaviour we have no intention of changing?
The short answer is we can’t. Change and motivation should come from within – and without this there is little hope of meaningful change.
There are ways in which we can reflect and find this, however. Sometimes the answer is sitting right in front of us.
Before we begin, I would like to point out the likelihood that by reading this, you are, in fact, in the next stage of change “contemplation” rather than “pre-contemplation”. After all, you are reading an article about changing behaviour, so an intention, no matter how small, probably exists within you.
To catch up on the Stages of Change, see this article for a recap.
But perhaps you don’t intend to change your habits. No matter how unhealthy or damaging a behaviour can be, it is easy to put up barriers to positive change.
Take my experience in the military, for example. Smoking and drinking were rife. It wasn’t seen as a problem, though, just a normality of the culture and daily life. Regularly, health professionals would give us all talks about the dangers and risks associated with our unhealthy behaviors. But nothing ever changed.
I have seen this is my family and friends too. Despite some of them even being fully aware that unhealthy habits are effecting their wellbeing. But with no motivation or intention, positive change is all but impossible.
While education is often suggested as a means of overcoming this lack of intention, this rarely has any meaningful impact.
Imagine two life-long football fans of rival teams. They go to a bar one evening and begin to discuss their teams and all its victories; each convinced that their team is the best. Giving convincing facts and cases, they argue into the early hours of the morning.
What do you think happened after their discussion? Do you think either of them was convinced and changed their allegiance to the opposing side?
Telling someone what or why they should do something rarely has any meaningful positive impact on intention and motivation to change.
After all, it is easy for ourselves and others to put up guards against anything that challenges our beliefs.
But what if we took some time to reflect?
It takes a lot of strength to take a step back and look at ourselves through a critical lens.
Take a look at the flowchart below and see if there are any areas where you may benefit from adopting positive habits.
This is by far the most challenging stage of the Stages of Change to overcome. It requires, however small, a desire to change yourself. I hope that by following this reflective flow chart you can perhaps understand areas in your life that you could positively change.
Though most of you will already have an idea of how you would like to change and subsequently enter the Stages of Change at the second stage – Pre-contemplation.
Be sure to follow to learn what you can do to progress further through the Stages of Change!
Thanks for reading. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments