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Change a Negative Behavior Pattern – July 2019 RESIZED

At Nahid Coaching & Mentoring, one key lesson we keep coming back to is around negative behavior patterns and how they are often driven by a deeper negative belief system. For example, procrastination might be the result of a set of beliefs ranging from, “I do my best work under deadline pressure” to “I don’t have what it takes to do a good job right now” or “other people are not allowing me the time I need to get this done”. On the surface these might sound like lame excuses, but a pattern of procrastination can be very hard to escape, creating a feeling of being trapped in the habit. Regardless of how lame the “excuses” may sound, they are often real enough to control one’s behavior.

Most people who are trapped in a negative behavior pattern blame themselves for lacking will power or self-discipline. They continue to promise themselves that they will do better, and live with an ongoing sense of failure, at least in that aspect of their life. Others place blame on the outside world for not providing what they need to change, whether it be time, money, recognition or something else. They continue to feel resentment and anger around that aspect of their life. Here are a few examples that might be familiar:

  1. Employees who get frustrated by being denied a promotion yet refuse to take ownership of any new work that is technically outside their scope of responsibility. They feel they should receive the new title or promotion before starting to expand their role.
  2. Team members who are constantly stressed about their workload, yet when offered a vacation they either refuse to take it or spend the entire time responding to e-mail and checking in on work projects.
  3. Leaders who micromanage the team or take on most of the work themselves, citing that when given the opportunity, the team can’t be trusted to do things right or perform well on their own.
  4. Individuals who make ongoing attempts to lose weight, quit smoking, start an exercise program, get more sleep, or create any positive change in their life, sometimes with brief success, only to repeatedly fall back into their old ways.
  5. Relationships where the same arguments happen repeatedly despite promises and good intentions, leading people to give up on each other and live in an ongoing state of simmering frustration.

Negative behavior patterns can be extremely frustrating, especially when the intention and effort to change feels never-ending. When the frustration comes to a head, there are really only two options left: one is to decide that this is just the way life is and accept it, or two, to find a better solution.

We’ve dedicated the past twenty years to understanding why people get stuck and how to get them unstuck. Here are a few things we’ve learned:

  1. The “lame excuses” that keep people stuck are rooted in deeply embedded beliefs that they are not aware of. From their perspective, these beliefs are simply woven into the fabric of reality.
  2. In working through a self-discovery process to become aware of deep beliefs and how they connect to automatic behaviors, the resulting epiphany is a HUGE relief. It becomes clear that these patterns are not due to a lack of will power, creating the empowerment to make changes that wouldn’t have been possible before.
  3. Even with a deeper understanding and awareness of beliefs, if people don’t consciously work to change them, the negative behavior pattern will continue in some way. There will be a deeper awareness of the compulsion to do things that don’t make logical sense, but any changes will only last until the epiphany fades.
  4. A change in beliefs cannot be forced, which is why positive affirmations do not tend to work long term. They may help temporarily, but ultimately can add more fuel to an inner conflict leading to an internal power struggle.
  5. In order to change a belief, it’s necessary to “re-open the case” and consider that this belief was created at a young age with limited access to evidence and therefore might not be as true as originally thought. In rethinking this belief, one must consciously gather new evidence in a mental process that is more like learning something new than fighting something old.

If you’d like to learn more about the tools we use here at Nahid Coaching and Mentoring to identify, re-examine and change beliefs, contact us for a free consultation.

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