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Day 5: 'B' is for BEHAVIOR

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

be-hav-ior, n. The manner in which something functions or operates: the faulty behavior of a computer program; the behavior of dying stars.

Do you move through your day at a steady pace, humming along, engaged in Life? Or are you a fits-and-starts kind of person, ultra-energized when you start a task but fizzling out before you finish? Worse: do you contemplate the huge mountain in front of you - and give up before you tackle it at all?

It all comes down to behavior, your behavior. Do you know WHY you do the things you do? It could be perfectionism - 'I can't settle for anything less than perfect, and I just know I can't do THAT perfectly, therefore if I don't take on that task I'll avoid proving to myself I can't do it perfectly.' Twisted logic? Yes, it's easy to fall into patterns of crazy circuitous thinking.

Perhaps you aren't a perfectionist as much as a (self) defeatist. 'There's no sense spending time or energy on thus-and-so, because I already know I can't do it. I'm a failure.' You've lost before you got out of the starting gate, never giving yourself a chance to fail - or succeed.

There may be a thousand reasons why you can't do something, but you only need one good one to succeed: 'Because I WANT to!'

Behavior is not inherited. You are not stuck with it. Oh, yes, there is instinctual behavior, like that of birds knowing how to build nests.. But in general human behavior is learned behavior: language, skills, thinking, are all learned behaviors. And because they are learned, you can change behaviors you aren't happy with.

First, set aside a specific period of time during which you will observe your own behavior, keeping a diary of events and your responses. How do you react when the pressure's on? Are there 'triggers' that cause you to lose control? What kind of self-talk do you have?

Second, after gathering your data (you scientist you!) make some decisions about what you want to change. Perhaps you want to make sure your internal dialogues focus on optimism. If your usual behavior gives you negative feedback, that's a behavior to change.

Third, once you have pinpointed behaviors you want to change, do some homework, using the internet or visiting the library. What would help you establish the habits and practices leading to changed behavior? You may need small adjustments here and there - remembering to treat yourself more kindly when you make a mistake, rather than beating yourself up over a stumble. You may want to change in a more comprehensive way, revamping your current lifestyle. You've identified what you want to change, so next--

-- make a plan: if the change is small, you may only need one or two steps to effect a new behavior and develop it into a good habit. If the change is a big one, though - 'life-changing' - you will need to plan in more detail. Use small steps, but more of them, breaking the change into smaller increments so you aren't overwhelmed from the outset.

Last, put your plan into action. It takes twenty-one days - three weeks - to establish a habit. It can take even longer to 'deconstruct' an old one. Be patient with yourself! Rome wasn't built in a day, and you aren't making a temporary change, you are changing to healthy behavior for life.

As you work through your plan, trying different techniques, continue to evaluate: how do I feel after I--? Has this resulted in positive change? Does that reinforce the new behavior I want to learn? Keep adjusting as you go, focussing on those behaviors you want to establish.

You can learn the traits that enhance your life and increase your self-satisfaction. It's hard work - it will take a lot of time and effort - but it's perhaps the most rewarding work you will ever do.

And if you want to - YOU CAN.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • REJ7777
    It's not easy to change ingrained habits! And yet, it's so important to make the effort to change our self-defeating bevaviors. Thank you for a list of how, practically speaking, it CAN be done.
    3615 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5080021
    I was talking to D1 the other day about something I had done through the day. It took me back to my behavior at the time we were dating. I said I haven't changed much have I? I wonder, do we ever change our behavior, or just modify it. It would explain how easy it is to fall back into bad habits.
    3617 days ago
    What an informative and thought-provoking blog. Changing learned behaviors may seem difficult but, small changes over time become big changes.
    emoticon emoticon
    3617 days ago
    This is a great blog -- with lots of interesting information and excellent suggestions!

    3618 days ago
    Interesting blog---now if I could change my dh's behavior by osmosis, things would be better---LOL
    3618 days ago
    Great blog. Good job!


    3618 days ago
    My problem is that I know for example that I don't want dirty dishes to pile up in my sink, but I just don't want to get my hands in that gooshy stuff to clear them away! So then it becomes a big job when I need something clean that's still in the sink! Twisted logic, for sure.

    Let me think about this for awhile. I've been able to make other lifestyle changes, so maybe (even though I set the rubber gloves RIGHT BY THE SINK) I'll think of another help, short of a psychiatrist, that can help me get the job done!
    3618 days ago
  • JEN6756

    Nicely said! I can't agree more. I hope I can put your wisdom to use and change some of my own behaviors.

    Thanks again for a wonderfully written blog!

    Jen6756 emoticon
    3618 days ago
  • no profile photo CD6484093
    Very well written, Kasey. I'm a perfectionist and a self-defeater -- which explains why I always seem to be going in circles. But all kidding aside, this was a very valuable blog. TONS of great information and suggestions there. Will definitely need to chew on it for a while, digest it, and then try to put it into action.
    3619 days ago
  • no profile photo CD8752472
    Great advice on how to evaluate and change our behaviors. I'm looking forward to 'C'!
    3619 days ago
  • JUNEBUG4967
    Ezxcellent ideas for starting small to make great changes.
    3619 days ago
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