Admit it. You want to change something about yourself. You want to assert your opinions but you keep holding yourself back. You have a smoking habit that you still want to kick. You feel crippled by anxiety and want to feel emotionally fit. You procrastinate too much and want to act more productively. You are unhappy with the people you date, but keep putting off searching for a suitable mate.
If you are like millions of others, when it comes to making serious personal changes—the kind that can do you considerable good--you put on the brakes when you had better accelerate. Let’s explore why you might stop yourself and how to start and accelerate actions to make positive changes.
Change Blockers and Stoppers
There are many reasons why you may put off critical personal changes. Here is a sampling:
Is it possible for you to get past these and other change barriers when the change that you have in mind is more important than the cost of breaching the barrier? If so, then let’s look at a three levels of change intervention to overcome interferences from change blockers and to get on your way to forge a stronger, confident, you.
A Work in Process
Personal change may be among your most challenging undertakings. Let’s look at how to make critical personal changes at practical, empirical, and core levels. By addressing the change at the most appropriate level(s) for you, you can better navigate the gap between where you are and where you would like to be.
At the practical level, you may use common sense techniques to realize the changes that you want to make. For example, you acquire information about the change you want to make, and that can help relieve tension about changing. You do specific things, such as logging your thoughts about the change. This mind mapping helps make your anti-change thinking visible. You test practical solutions, such as imagining an anxious thought vaporize like a puff of steam.
At the empirical level, you put on your scientist’s hat. Let’s say that you have erroneous expectations about changing that lead to exasperating delays. You want to contain, control, or eliminate them. Will recognizing and labeling erroneous expectations help defuse their emotional impact? If you want to procrastinate less, can you use a to do list to stay focused and get more done sooner?
At a core level, you deal with deeper and more personal issues. You might stymie yourself because of core problems, such as doubting yourself. You might fear blame and duck doing what is clearly in your interest to do. Thus, you sacrifice your interests to avoid real or imaginary scoffing or censoring. Core conditions are changeable conditions. For example, Instead of doubting yourself you can doubt negative thoughts.
After reading the following two paragraphs, shut your eyes. Use the levels of change that best apply to you. Imagine advancing through the levels. Here is an example:
With your eyes still shut, think about your strongest positive value. Let’s say that you value truth. Self-doubting is one of your core problems, and you decide to look truthfully at the issue. You find that you are foreclosing on your ability to change partially because you doubt that you can change. After a bit of self-study, you conclude that having helplessness thoughts doesn’t mean that they are factual. This is an important step out of your self-doubt rut. However, you won’t get far beyond the joys of enlightened self-revelation unless you translate this mental exercise into productive actions. That's an important step toward self-improvement.
If you value efficiency, taking on a core issue is efficient when you can positively impact other conditions that you’d also like to change. Practical, empirical, and core levels of change are transdiagnostic approaches, which mean that when applied to one problem area, this group of interventions can spread to interconnected problems. For example, if you have an oppressive anxiety you may also ruminate too much, doubt yourself, and feel depressed. By targeting a core issue, such as self-doubts or rumination, you can simultaneously decrease the others.
For more on overcoming procrastination, click on: The Procrastination Workbook
For more on overcoming anxiety, click on: The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety
Click on my Change Procrastination blog on how to use five phases of change to self-improve.
Why is Personal Change So Tough to Do? is the first of a special three part series on personal change. The second is by assertiveness expert Dr. Bob Alberti, who gives you 13 positive tips for expressing yourself effectively. Bob's seminal work on expressing yourself effectively has profoundly influenced millions for the better. Click on Bob's It's Not What You Say--It's How You Say It!. Click on top change expert Dr. John Norcross’Three Important Lessons for Making Critical Life Changes. John's seminal ideas on change helped revolutionize how people think about, make, and maintain meaningful changes.
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