Want to be a healthier eater, a more interesting partner, a faster worker, a better parent? You may know exactly what it takes, yet something holds you back from doing it.
Breaking the Chains
The real key to lasting change — always passing up doughnuts for a fat-free yogurt with berries, for instance — lies somewhere between what we know and what we do. It’s what we think. So if change has you stymied, try these five thought-changers.
- Create a compelling reason to change. “I’ve learned to link the idea of healthy eating to things that really, really matter to me, like being a better person by setting a good example for my work mates or staying sexy.
- Don’t associate pain with the desired action. “I find something in the new behavior that I can enjoy so that needing to be disciplined is no longer a factor,” “Since most forms of exercise are anathema to me, I make running palatable by letting myself watch TV only when I am on the treadmill.”
- Disrupt the routine. Have a habit you’d like to break, like smoking or swearing? “When you catch yourself in the middle of an unwanted action,” “insert a completely incongruous word, thought, or action.” For example, if you catch yourself cussing like a sailor, say “lemon custard,” hop backward, or think about naked windsurfing.
- Change the story. What story are you telling yourself that makes it harder to change? When you hear it in your head, I recommends breaking the pattern by mixing it up. “One way is to change nouns,” “For example, if the story is ‘I would be happy if only Johnny would get back together with me,’ try ‘My dog, Fifi, would be happy if only Johnny would get back together with me.’ The whole thing becomes absurd, and the story loses some of its power over you.”
- Don’t wait until you feel like changing. Act even when you don’t want to. Sometimes you just need to do it. The purpose and the passion will come once you’re engaged.
Did You Know?
Change that leads to personal growth, good health, and solid relationships doesn’t just happen. If you want to direct your life rather than simply react to what life brings to you, talk and have a think about other people’s lives.
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