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Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?

If you think that sometimes you sabotage your own efforts to make change by your own actions or fears then don't worry - you are not the first person and fortunately there are techniques that you can use for helping you to overcome these inhibiting or negative features in a practical manner.

As a first exercise, think of a change in behaviour that you would like to make. Then draw up a table in the form below, listing on the one side the Advantages that you can see for yourself in making the change. On the other side list the Disadvantages for you of changing - also known as the payoffs of your current behaviour, however irrational it may seem - be sure to be honest  with yourself! An example, adapted from an actual situation with one of my former clients, is given below:

EXAMPLE of CHANGE EXERCISE

 

THE CHANGE I WANT TO MAKE IS:

"To stop shouting at my partner or children"

 

ADVANTAGES

OF MAKING THIS CHANGE

DISADVANTAGES

OF MAKING THIS CHANGE

1. Calm and stable environment for our children and us.

2. I would feel happier and not so stressed all the time.

3. My health would be better - stress is not good for you!

4. I would be closer with my family.

1. I am worried that my partner might mistake my calmness for a weakness and take advantage of me.

2. I am scared that my children might grow up out of control and not make anything of their life.

3. It's a risk to let people know that they have hurt me, whereas if I act hard nosed and angry, people won't know they have hurt me so I don't need to worry about it.

4. I have always shouted in the past and I am worried that if I change I will lose my identity and not know who I am anymore.


To the outsider looking at this list, some of the disadvantages listed may seem irrational, but to the person experiencing these thoughts and feelings they are very real.

What is important is to get the disadvantages of changing out into the open. If they seem very large to you, then:

In the real life past situation on which the above example is based, the client did in the course of a few coaching sessions manage to gain control of their behaviour and make the desired change and as a consequence their partner's behaviour towards them also become much more positive and their children's anxiety reduced!

Assess the Fear, Plan for it and Make a Decision


Another way in which people can be inhibited from making progress is because of their fears about taking risks.

People sometimes mention to me the title of the well know self help book Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.

My advice is not quite so extreme! It is instead:

 

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