What’s the one thing most of us really want, but then discover that it’s the most difficult thing to do?

Change.

To change how we look, to change how we feel, to change a relationship or a career.

For example, common sense would say that if we need to lose 50 pounds or stop smoking or begin an exercise program — as the commercial goes, we should just do it.

Why then is it so hard to find the motivation to change when we already know that we need to change?

Making this shift from where we are to where we want to be requires some insight into why change is difficult in the first place. It’s a complicated subject, but here are a few easy clues.

In helping people make ‘shifts’ or lifestyle transitions, I refer to what I call our personal  BVI’s — our Beliefs, Values and (self) Identity.

Unless we shift the ‘Beliefs and Values’ that support old behaviors, change becomes exceedingly difficult when we try to do it in ways that violate our own standards. If our values and principles say one thing and a proposed change says something different, we’ll have difficulty making that change stick.

Why?

In helping people make ‘shifts’ or lifestyle transitions, I refer to what I call our personal BVI’s — our Beliefs, Values and (self) Identity.

Because that scenario produces what psychologists refer to as ‘cognitive dissonance.’ It’s like trying to run east and west at the same time or convince yourself that you can lose weight while continuing to do some of the things that caused you to gain weight in the first place. For example, you can’t just eat a box of doughnuts while telling yourself you will begin a healthy eating program ‘next Monday.’ The behavior and your intention don’t match.

And, you can’t do that for very long without driving yourself nuts.

The remedy: If you find yourself in a dissonant state, spend some time doing 2 things: First, re-clarify what your values and principles are. Then, make them concrete and nail them down in your conscious awareness by becoming aware of your split behaviors.

Second Insight: We tend to behave in ways that reflect the kind of person we really believe ourselves to be. If you really (deep down perhaps) believe that you are an overweight person with no willpower, you may begin a healthy lifestyle, but soon your behavior will draw yourself back into your old ways.

What kind of labels do you put on yourself? If you continually say, “I am a fat person who can never do the things skinny people do”, you won’t lose weight permanently. That’s a fact.

Therefore, we must be careful how we talk to and about ourselves. Whatever self-image we have accepted puts a ceiling on our ability to use our vast inner resources to shift our behavior towards the kind of person we really want to become.

You are pretty cool

Know this – until we change the picture that we hold in our consciousness about who we are, we will continue to repeat unwanted negative behaviors. Our self-image regulates many of our behavioral patterns, positively or negatively.

If you start doing things like eating better and following an exercise program for example, anxiety and tension will set in because you are violating your fixed self-image, Your mind will think that you are acting in ways that are not ‘like you – the self you perceive yourself to be.’

The remedy: Don’t force change. Be gentle with yourself. Start picturing in your mind a positive self-image whenever you can throughout the day. Hear yourself saying (or affirming) that just for today, you can achieve the changes you really want because you have raised your standards — you expect more of yourself than you did yesterday or the day before — gently.

Change is a process, not an event. Change is constant. Go with the flow and move with the changes you really want for yourself. Understand that if you ‘shift’ the inner self, the outer world will follow — or rather, it will find you.

Dr. Randy

“At Naturally Well By The Shore we focus not only on the physiology of well-being but also on the psychology of changing inner dynamics for permanent lifestyle change.”