When we think about change most of the time we are in a state that can be called ambivalence. We can think of reasons to change but we have just as many reasons not to change.
We have this internal dialogue going with ourselves. What happens is that the reasons that we come up with for change get cancelled out but the reasons (or excuses) that we make to justify keeping things the way they are.
Have you ever had this conversation with yourself?
“I’d like to start exercising but . . . .”
The “but” is ambivalence.
You’ve got to overcome this situation by learning to focus exclusively on the reasons for change. The argument against change can’t happen and you need to hear and see only the pro-change arguments. They have to be big and prominent in your consciousness.
As a physician I often get caught in the cycle of ambivalence with my patients. What happens is that I am telling them what, why and how they could improve their health and they are arguing back to me the reasons why they can’t.
What should be happening is that rather than eliciting from them reasons why it is hard to change and reasons whey they can’t, I should be helping my them bring forth reasons why they can change. I should be helping them think about why they want to make changes and why they need to make changes. They need to hear themselves articulating reasons for change.
So that’s what I am going to do with you now. Think about a change you would like to make regarding your health.
Write down five reasons why you want to make that particular change.
When you have finished write down five reasons why you need to make the change.
Now write down five reasons why you know you can make this particular change.
Read through the lists out loud a couple of times.
It might sound goofy but eliciting this type of “change talk” is one of the best ways to get yourself out of ambivalence and onto change.