In recent #InnoPsy chats, we have talked a lot about the fact that many healthy choices (from regular movement to taking insulin) are actually behaviors. So, helping people make healthy choices is, at the root of things, helping people choose or change behaviors that support their health.
The truth of the matter is, behavior change is complicated.
It sounds simple on paper. Do this more. Do this less.
In fact, it sounds so simple on paper (or on the screen, or in the exam room) that we expect people to be able to hear about a beneficial behavior change and immediately begin implementing that change.
But that expectation ignores the reality of human behavior. Behavior is so much more than a simple set of choices. Instead, behavior is a reflection of your experiences and patterns throughout a lifetime. Behavior has triggers and rewards (some of which don’t make great sense). Behavior has emotional components. Shaping behavior is challenging. Just ask anyone who has ever tried to get a two-year old to behave in a way that the child didn’t choose.
We all have an inner two-year old. That part of ourselves that is unwilling to make a change. That part of ourselves that might be willing to throw a tantrum to avoid having to engage with change–even healthy change.
What we know as psychologists is this. Behavior change is hard AND behavior change is possible. Honoring and respecting the challenge is part of how we navigate through it.
In fact, during tonight’s chat, we are going to invite our community to take part in some real-time behavior change. We hope that you’ll join us. We hope you’ll feel free to share your responses. And we hope you’ll come along with us as we practice walking our own talk.
–Ann & Susan