Why can’t I? It’s the same story, over, and over, and over again. We want to. We really do. But we don’t/can’t change our behaviors. Why?!
We may want to lose weight, make different choices, or change any myriad of circumstances in our lives. Why is it so difficult? The answer is a different recipe for each of us as we all have different beliefs, values, priorities, excuses, etc.
Some of the reasons I have found include:
- Desire – without it, nothing will change, but it’s not enough
- Fear – can stop us in our tracks – fear of the unknown, of change, etc.
- Motivation – is the fuel toward reaching our goals
- Priority – determines where we use our limited time and energy
- Resources – necessary to implement the change or growth
- Knowledge – or lack thereof – needed to advance toward change
- Ability/Skills – needed to implement the steps toward the change
- Reward – for our current behavior is known, yet unrealized for the future
- Comfort – our current discomfort often seems more comfortable than change
- Beliefs – we have amassed many beliefs while traveling this big blue marble
- Values – many of which we were born with, and are very deep-seated
- Conflict – we often get stuck between “I should” and “I don’t want to”
- Habit – old habits are hard to break, new habits take time and energy to make
- Peer Pressure – a support system is very important for our success
- Behavior Change Stage – we need to be ready, willing, and able
- Energy and Commitment – without them we quickly revert to our old behaviors
- Perfection – expecting perfection is a sure path to ‘failure’ as it is unattainable
I’m sure there are many other reasons why it is difficult for so many of us to do the things we know we should, or even want to. The bottom line is that it is difficult and it takes work. The good news is that we are all capable of change, of bettering ourselves, our health, our positions. And the better news is that it is worth it!
How? So how do we make the shift from “I can’t.” to “I did!”? It is a different path for each of us and starts with introspection. Being truly honest with ourselves. We don’t allow others to lie to us, and we have to stop lying to ourselves! That includes excuses. So we need to stop and ask ourselves many questions. It will depend upon our own journeys, but a good starting place is to consider:
- What am I getting out of my continued behavior? What is my reward for continuing it? Is it that the feel-good I get from overeating overrides the eventual feeling-good-all-the-time that is promised in the end? (Do I even believe the promise of what is to come? Am I afraid of it?) We don’t do things that we don’t get some sort of reward from. The practice of physical self-harm, for example, offers relief from emotional pain (AAMFT). Once we realize why we are doing what we are doing, we are more able to see the value of alternatives.
- How important is making the change? What is it’s priority in my life? Until I decide that the change is worthy of my time, effort, and even money, I will not be able to move forward.
- Are my goals realistic and realizable? Or am I setting myself up for failure? Goal: “I want to lose 50 pounds this month.” That might start out with a bang because perhaps I can visualize myself thin in a short time. But it will surely fizzle and die. We need to be realistic with our goals and have a plan that we can monitor to see that we are reaching them. Small steps toward the end. Remember that two steps forward and one step back is the Cha-Cha! (Please allow some poetic license here!)
- Do I have a support system? Or is my current situation going to sabotage me? In this digital age it is so much easier to find the support we need. Reach out. We as humans really do want to help one another. And like we learned in school “if you raise your hand you will see that others had the same question but were afraid to ask.” Finding a buddy, an accountability partner, makes it so much easier, and more fun too.
- What is my excuse? And, more importantly: Why am I allowing this excuse to prevent me from working toward my goal?!
I could go on and on, but for the sake of brevity I will stop here. Please respond if you would like me to continue the questions to ask ourselves section, and how to realize the results we truly desire. Or with any of your own questions. I am happy to do so.
The bottom line is this: It is up to us to figure out the “Why?” based on our own introspection. Sometimes asking those close to us can be a big help (if we are willing to hear what they say without taking offense to their honesty if it is painful to hear.) We need to figure out what is holding us back as we are all capable of things far bigger than we ever imagined, once we get out of our own way!
Two steps forward, and one back is still moving forward, and we need to learn to enjoy the journey. Just like the Cha-Cha, or any dance steps I’ve tried to learn, I’ve had the most fun while tripping over my own feet (and occasionally someone else’s!) Not taking ourselves so seriously allows us to enjoy the journey and continue on our path, often inviting others to join us.