One misconception about behavior change is that it should happen overnight.
I think a lot of people struggle with trying to get a loved one to change a destructive behavior. Or perhaps someone has tried to change you. I’m sure they had good intentions, but if they wanted you to do everything overnight, that can also be frustrating.
Here’s what we all need to remember – behavior changes take TIME… goals.
Let’s say you have a habit of snacking late at night. If your family wanted to get you to quit this behavior, they might try a variety of strategies. For instance, they might
…nag you.. “You know you’re not supposed to be eating that.”
… try to elicit help from other members in the family, “Mom! Dad is eating again!”
…use guilt strategies, “You know that’s not good for you.” (add judgmental glance)
…or they might even try to tell you that you don’t love them, “If you loved me, you would stop doing this to yourself.”
Unfortunately, these tactics are not the most helpful. The recipient is likely to either build up a defense to you or develop resentment towards themselves. Neither of these end results are helpful to developing a loving relationship.
Here’s my suggestion…
Make a request. Set an end date. See if they agree to your proposal. If they do, don’t get frustrated after the time period is over and they go back to old behaviors. Not all is lost. Any amount of time they practiced a different behavior is a good thing. Set a follow up goal after they’ve had time to relax from the work of behavior change.
It really doesn’t have to be “all or nothing.”
Sometimes it helps to be different for a week. You’d be amazed what you can learn about yourself in that short amount of time. Often, it’s just enough to build confidence or to make a different situation seem more normal.
And THAT, folks, is EXACTLY what we’re going for!