Change, change, change…
We are bombarded by messages to change for good. These come from our loving family, our well meaning friends, Health professionals, Media and from the Government itself. Everywhere we look there are messages telling us not to drink too much, not to eat too much and not to smoke at all. We know these mean well. But why is it so hard to follow them? What are the barriers and hurdles that we have in receiving such messages?
Firstly these are external. We have no control or ownership on them. We feel we are being nagged incessantly. It becomes white noise, lost in reception. We may get angry and annoyed. We feel like a little child who wants to be naughty just to be spiteful. We don’t want to be told what to do. We are our own masters. thank you, very much.
We do know we have to change because our bodies are constantly changing and being affected by the things we do. We want to be healthy, to be there to enjoy the fruits of our working life. We want to do the things we’ve always planned to do; spend time with children, travel, indulge in that hobby we’ve secretly nurtured, visit family and friends in faraway places. We need the strength and energy to do all this. We want not to be ill.
One strategy that helps is positive visioning. We need to visualise what it would be like to be fitter, healthier. We need to avoid thinking in double -negatives- ‘ I don’t want to be ill’ has not got the same impact as ‘ I want to be healthy’.
We need to visualise strongly the benefits of healthy living in specific, measurable terms- money saved, time saved, looks maintained, energy generated, benefits socially and at work.. etc.
So how do we change for good?
First we need to be aware there is a problem. If we live in denial, we cannot change. Then we need to look at the scale of the problem. Is it early or is it approaching a crisis? Is it a preventive strategy or do we need to act quicker: for example someone diagnosed with heart problem, Diabetes, or arthritis needs a much more immediate plan than someone not yet diagnosed.
We need to accept that change is needed. It should come from within. We should do it for us. This is called ownership- we need to own the problem and the solutions. If we do it for others, however strong willed we are, it will weaken at moments of despair.
However, there always other factors. We need to look at what stage of change we are at ( or the persons we are trying to help change are at). There are different stages of change readiness.