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Barriers to long term change (and how to overcome them 3)

Over the last 2 weeks we looked at parental pressure and fear of failure. Both these internal barriers can lead to a tendency to incorrectly place blame. Today we will look at how this affects our ability to stick to our plans.

No 3: Reactive and Proactive behaviour

While there are always barriers beyond your control it can be hard to distinguish between what is genuinely unalterable, what can be accredited to someone or something else and finally what can be handled alone. Reactive behaviour is where a person will react to their environment or circumstances, often blaming others and acting as a victim. In contrast, proactive behaviour takes responsibility for events, seeking to control and manage both the outcomes and attitude towards these results. Reactive and proactive behaviour can be quickly measured in terms of language. By studying the words you use, especially when dealing with problems, you can begin to understand whether you allow events to control you or whether you manage your environment and take charge.

Reactive Language

I’ll try to...

I never have time

There’s nothing I can do

You always make me so mad...

If only my boss/wife/bus...

Proactive Language

I will do that

I am going/not going to make time for that

Let’s look at what we can do

I can listen and be more understanding

I can/will/am

In attempting to make long term change, it’s therefore important to understand how we’re reacting so we can take responsibility for our choices. In this way, “If only my workplace had a cafe nearby I wouldn’t have to eat from the vending machine” becomes “I will bring a healthy lunch” and “I’m not fit enough to manage the gym every day” becomes “Let’s consider a workable fitness regime”.

Having considered in the previous weeks our small child who couldn’t manage it on their own and the leader too embarrassed to fail, why not listen to your thought processes and speech patterns over the following week? Can you hear excuses or blame in your words?

An extremeexample: a school renowned for its discipline in England was known to insist upon detentions for such simple mistakes as dropping a pen from an open window, the justification being that the student should have pre-empted the possibility of such an event occurring.

We have a responsibility to hold ourselves in the same high regard, expecting and foreseeing potential problems and owning up to our mistakes. From this will stem an attitude of preparation, forethought, management and control where once was panic, blame and fire-fighting.

In the words of Yoda, “Do. Or do not. There is no try."

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