Every new year brings a freshness of promise, of hope and the opportunity to change our lives to something more in tune with what we wish to be. Hence many people make resolutions they feel they want to keep; resolutions around losing weight, giving up smoking, getting that new job or giving up that old one, or even breaking off that unfulfilling relationship and being more independent, for example. This time of the the year galvanises us into action to change ourselves in some way.
However, a few days or weeks into the year and most people will find it really difficult to keep to the promises they made themselves earlier on. It is not because they have changed their minds, or they haven't got the genuine intention to succeed in achieving their desires. Not at all. Something else they haven't even thought of would be blocking their success and preventing them from reaching their goal. In a nutshell, they are concentrating on changing their BEHAVIOUR instead of their values or mindset, and it just won't work.
Behaviour is dictated by values and values are formed by beliefs. Those three elements work in strict tandem. It means if we wish our behaviour to change, we have to start with our BELIEFS. We really cannot just change our behaviour and do nothing else. We have to change those beliefs we have about the issue, which then affect our values which ultimately change our behaviour.
For example, if I really wish to make my health better and lessen the effect of diabetes on me, I cannot see chocolate, per se, as harmless food. I have to view it as something deadly and dangerous to my existence. Once I treat chocolate like virtual poison (changing my beliefs) I will then have a value that says chocolate is not something I eat, which then stops me from buying it and having it. In that way, I would keep my resolution to improve the state of my illness because my belief would drive my behaviour.
The same with smoking or weight loss. If you wish to give up smoking, it really matters WHY you are giving it up. If it is to save money, to stop having to deal with the smell of it, or because you will be 'better' for it, you won't succeed in your effort because those are not really important, survival reasons that the body will recognise. Those are social reasons. The good thoughts around cigarettes and why you smoke them in the first place will still be hovering in your subconscious. They will override the other thoughts you have of giving up.
Until you can start imagining the BAD effects of smoking on yourself; visualising it in a very negative way so that it is stripped of all its attraction, and your BELIEFS around cigarettes change to match their dangers, you will merely go through the motions for a few weeks, craving it badly, then going back to it later in time. Until you change your beliefs and values around cigarettes, switching from accepting them, per se, to rejecting them as potential danger to your survival, any stoppage will merely be temporary.
When we make resolutions, our behaviour tends to change first. That's normal. But unless our beliefs and values change soon afterwards as well, the change will only be superficial simply because the original mindset, that keeps the old behaviour in place, will still be there!
©Elaine Sihera (Ms CYPRAH) 2012
Emotional Health and People Management Consultant
"Happiness is a state of being. We are the ones who decide whether we wish to be happy or not, by the script we use inside our heads."