Failure to Improve

Why do so many people fail to improve themselves when they are presented with solutions which they themselves agree with? They see the problem and solution but seem to be unable to use it. Their minds seem stuck in a recurring pattern which takes too much energy to break. They make excuses and delude themselves, they convince themselves that something won’t work, something will be too hard, it is just the way it is, it is someone else’s fault, they don’t really care about it (even though they do).

I’ve come to realise that for most people the knowledge of a weakness and even its origin is not enough to break out of the pattern. The barrier to breaking out of these thinking patterns is fear and lazy thinking.

The solution is to start doing things, any things, that are either difficult or frightening for no other reason than that they are difficult or frightening. It doesn’t matter what it is. The point is to get used to overcoming fearful feelings or realising that the hard things are actually quite easy if we make them a habit.

I think if we get used to overcoming fearful or difficult situations in one aspect of our lives then this attitude can transfer to other aspects. We can use this to our advantage by starting off with little things to overcome and gradually lead up to the bigger ones.

Many people want to improve themselves but it is usually just an aspiration. A nice idea. I like the idea of playing the piano and I would love to be able to play the piano. But really I don’t care that much because I am not putting any time or energy into doing so. I mustn’t care that much if I am not even taking basic actions to achieve my desire.

Getting from aspiration to action can require realisations or inspirations which we have never been exposed to by reading a book or seeing someone else’s example and then really being passionate enough to do it.

Sometimes it takes a serious life event: A smoker who has always desired to give up but never put the energy into doing so gets diagnosed with cancer and gives up instantly – although for some people, even that isn’t enough.

So to conclude with a ridiculous cheesy metaphor: I think that forcing yourself to do difficult or frightening things for no other reason than that they are difficult or frightening is equivalent to learning to play the piano of life. We just have to put in the effort.

  1. laughingcrowknits said:

    This sounds like I wrote it! Love it! I’ve been trying to tell my clients this and they won’t listen to me!

    • Not sure of the nature of your business … I am a Respiratory educator and deal with smoking cessation for COPD clients. If you have not already done some training with the 5 Stages of Change, you need to. Also, try discussing motivations, use empathy in all discussions. Find their ‘why’ with them and help them to grow this reason for change. You cannot in any case supply it for them. They need to do the work themselves! Good luck!

  2. I usually does take a significant event to allow a shift in the stage of change process of an individual. People can remain in the pre-contemplative stage for years and even cycle into contemplation regularly and back again. Look at exercise – I love to feel fit. I enjoy lifting weights and moving my body, but I just don’t make the time for it regularly. I don’t remain in the action phase long enough to make it a new habit. I don’t commit enough energy to that stage. Would a life-threatening health problem assist that? You betcha! But my motivation wanes … other things like family time take over because I value them more at this time in my life. Check out the 5 Stages of Change model: pre-contemplative, contemplative, preparation, action and maintenance. Thanks for the great post!

  3. Steph said:

    I enjoyed this!

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