One of the sneaky and annoying things about shame is the more negative decisions you make the easier it is to make more negative decisions. This can make goal setting pretty difficult because even though you want to change, there is a force working against you to keep you stuck. For example, if you see yourself as someone who makes unhealthy food choices you will most likely continue to make unhealthy food choices. When met with the fork in the road decision between the chicken fried steak or the salad you’ll most likely choose the chicken friend steak. After all, you make unhealthy food choices, thats “who you are”. Once you’re able to just once make a healthy food choice the way you see yourself will slowly start to change. It will be easier to choose the salad once you’ve chosen the salad.
There is a big gap between wanting to change and actually changing. How do you convince yourself that the change is worth it? It’s important to break down the desires that are a part of the change. Start with the benefits of the starting point. In our food example this would mean acknowledging that the chicken fried steak tastes really good. Eating it may even provide some sort of comfort for you. We can’t ignore that there are benefits to the starting point. Otherwise, why would we keep trying it, or have such difficulty changing.
Next, consider the costs of eating the chicken fried steak. Maybe it leaves you feeling crummy. Maybe it keeps you from losing the weight you want to. If we don’t acknowledged the cost of our decisions we won’t have the information or motivation to make the changes we want to make.
Now it’s time to think about the cost of the change. Eating that salad means you miss out on the delicious chicken friend steak meal. It means you might have to smell everyone else’s chicken fried steak while you eat that salad. Is it worth it? If we aren’t aware of the hard work it will take to make the change then we probably aren’t ready to make the change.
Lastly, tell yourself about the benefits of the change. Leaving the restaurant after eating the salad you most likely won’t feel bloated and uncomfortable. After awhile you might even see a change in your waist line. Maybe your workouts are easier and you start feeling healthier all together. This is what makes change worth it. When we are aware of the direction we are going and what the end result will be we have more energy to must through the change.
Very rarely does “white knuckling” it work. Change happens most smoothly when we are aware of the costs and benefits at play. Try trading out that chicken fried steak for a habit you’re trying to kick. This could be anything from relationship dynamics, to work patterns.
Some things to consider:
1. Is change something that you’re sure you want or has society, loved ones, or other influences told you to change?
2. How can you remind yourself of the costs of the choices you are making?