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Overcoming Our Internal Resistance To Change

/ / Stress Management

Tried adopting a new healthier habit but haven’t been successful?

A common reason is due to internal conflicting thoughts that make us unable to decide and change.

Sometimes we have mixed feelings and conflicting views over a situation or goal, making it hard for us to choose a course of action. This is especially true when there is a reason for contradiction, hence the dilemma.

Has this happened to you before? I want to exercise regularly for 30-minutes a day, but after a long-day at work, I want to use that 30-minutes to rest or take a nap. I tell myself that a nap is equally important as exercise to a healthier life, since being tired would make me unable to function for the rest of the day. I think:

 “I should exercise to be healthy, BUT I also need to nap regularly to be healthy.”

or

“I should exercise BUT I just don’t have the time.”

Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

The good news is, our health coaches know just how to tackle this common yet difficult situation and will assist you in moving forward and taking action by helping you reframe your thoughts and beliefs, and turn that indecision into positive action.

A Solution Through Dissonance

Dissonance occurs when there is a misalignment of the way we think and feel about something (cognition) and the way we behave towards it (behaviour). This happens when we perceive ourselves in a certain way, yet we behave in the opposite manner.

For example, when a person wants to be fitter (cognition), yet eats sugar-loaded desserts after every meal (behaviour) knowing it will cause them to gain weight (cognition). Here, the person is doing something in conflict with their goal, knowing they should not be doing it at all; hence the formation of a dissonance.

When dissonance is significant, a feeling of discomfort and anxiety often arises. In the example above, the person is likely to feel guilty. This feeling, while viewed negatively by most, is actually a great way to start moving forward, as people are naturally compelled to do something in order to remove that uncomfortable feeling of dissonance.

This can be done in various ways – from a user changing their views over the situation through the introduction of new information, modifying their beliefs, or making an actual behavioural change to alter that uncomfortable situation. After all, who wants to feel guilty after every meal.

However, we should also be aware that oftentimes, our mind can compensate automatically on its own to justify the behaviour, making us unaware of the dissonance or discomfort. In this example, we might tell ourselves that it’s okay to eat desserts after every meal, I’ll just skip some meals or eat less of it to make up for the added calories.

By being more aware of these possible justifications and with the proper guidance, we can train ourselves to modify our behaviours and thoughts in a more positive and desirable manner. For example, we could instead say:

“If I exercise regularly, I can occasionally enjoy desserts and still be able to lose weight.”

By helping you reframe a situation to form an obvious disparity, you will then be able to better identify the steps needed to reach your desired goal.

Remember, we’re here to help!

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