Monday, November 14, 2011

Why we do stupid things?

"Normal people work twice as hard, make half as much and hardly have any fun at all"

Making changes seems to be one of the toughest things we ever do.    And yet as Einstien said...'to repeatedlly do the same thing and expect a different response is the definition of  insanity'. (or something like that).   Our futures are easily predictable by our examining our habits.   If they don't change neither do we. 

So why don't we change?   Why don't we see the obvious?   Why do conservatives remain conservatives and liberals remain liberals all of their lives despite evidence that it might be time to consider something new?   Why is it that we keep repeating patterns of behaviour despite the fact that it is obvious it isn't working?

"The stronger your belief the more intolerant you become of the beliefs of others"

Psychologists call it cognitive dissonance when we resist changing even when the evidence suggests we should do otherwise.   We don't like the feelings that come from anything that goes against what we've always believed or done.   That is when we start rationalizing rather being rational.   Or we try to critisize or mock in order to reduce our dissonance.  

It's like when a person smokes cigarettes.    Any rational person will know beyond doubt this is a self destructive behavior leading to very bad consequences.   So in order to reduce the dissonance they feel they deny smokings harmful effects, minimize it by saying...yes but it won't happen to me or by saying...well I could also be killed by being run over by a car.   Or most commonly by saying....I'm going to quit sometime in the near future (which they rarely do).

So then the question is how do we effect change in ourselves?

First by remaining open to the possibility that what you've always believed may not be right or true.  This is why I always tell myself....I have strong beliefs loosely held. 

Second by creating a plan for change.  And accepting that it may not be easy but it is possible.

Third by making small incremental changes.

Fourth by continuing each small  change until it becomes a habitual behaviour.

And finally once a new habit is established being protective of it.  Old habits are like bad ex-lovers, they have a way of sneaking back into your life if you are not vigilant.

Now its time to go take some of my own medicine and put this to practice on myself.  Wish me luck.

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