Resolution Hiccups - part 3 of 3

The recurrence of old behaviours and habits, despite the desire for new, healthier, beneficial ones can seem to be of biblical proportions, a battle between the head and heart, the mind and body, the yin and yang. The problem has plagued the rich and poor, infamous and famous, irreligious and religious alike. The apostle Paul stated it thus “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do”[1]. The apostle followed a spiritual path to forgiveness for his burden of guilt and power to effect behaviour change. Yet for religious and irreligious alike, the challenge of behaviour change is often slower or more elusive than desired and remains the subject of many books and professional services.

In this final part to the resolution hiccup series, I invite you to distinguish conscious and non-conscious decision making[2]. Instinctual, gut feeling, ‘devil made me do it’ decisions.

Conscious decisions are those we can express in words or thought. Non-conscious decisions are those that seem automatic, no cognitive decision or choice has been made. We are aware of having done something but not having words to really explain the reason for having done it, ‘it’s just the way I am, or do things’, ‘My gut just told me not to’.

Try exploring the benefit you get from non-conscious, unwanted behaviours. A persistent undesirable behaviour or bad habit always benefits us in some way. Grossly simplified, we get to avoid pain or make a gain. Unwanted behaviours may have developed over a long period in subtle ways and consequently may be non-conscious (we don’t have the words at front of mind to explain the benefit). Be willing to explore and discover the benefit we get. Try asking ‘What do I get to do or not do when I behave this way?’

When you have identified a benefit, then ask ‘How else could I get that benefit?’ When more helpful ways of meeting our needs are identified or created, we can make empowering choices that reduce or eliminate the previously non-conscious drivers of undesired behaviours.

Change - desired or imposed - is part of the life journey. Searching for answers is an exploration of life. By being willing to wonder at how we operate, we can explore new ways to achieve resolutions that serve our higher purpose, in an emotionally intelligent and mature way with increasingly conscious choices that enable our resolutions to become reality.

I trust these three uncommon insights have assisted your resolution journey.

[1] Bible: Paul’s letter to the Romans chapter 7 verse 15

[2] Kahneman, D. 2011. Thinking Fast and Slow.

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