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Which Approach Do You Choose for Change?

Is there something that you want to change in your life, yet you continue to hedge back and forth, wondering if you’re strong enough to make that needed lifestyle change? If you are ambivalent and not truly committed to changing your life, don’t waste your time or energy stuck in your own ambivalence. The odds are definitely against you.

Most people have to be in one of two states in order to truly alter their life. They need to be so fed up with their situation that they are miserable, and in so much pain that they are truly ripe to change their lives. The other example is the group of people who make great changes because they have been inspired to change. The inspiration has created a change in thought patterns. Instead of focusing on deprivation or on what they will be “losing”, they focus on what they will gain if they make changes in their life.

People who effectively change have positive attitudes. They find enjoyment from their substitutions and are excited by their altered lifestyle. Let me give you examples of both of these types of people.

Misery and Pain Scenario
Talk to an alcoholic about his recovery. He will typically tell you that he went into treatment after “being sick and tired of being sick and tired”. He could no longer tolerate his existence and had to do something different. It’s as if his alcoholism had worn him down to the point where he
was resolved to try some alternative to pull him out of that big, dark, black hole.

I often see this in people who report that no matter how hard they try… they cannot maintain a healthy eating lifestyle. Although they may actually loathe their bodies and use negative self-talk throughout the day, their despondency is not bad enough to give up food to achieve a healthier body image.

The Inspired Scenario
You may have met someone who was inspired to change. People who have lost weight by exercising describe the euphoric feeling that running produces. The euphoric feeling is inspiring and creates a positive attitude. This can often generate positive feedback from others, which reinforces the desire to engage in the new behavior. All of the sudden, they are being noticed for their positive changes, which reinforces their healthy lifestyle behaviors.

Which person are you? Do you make decisions based on misery or your ability to create behavioral changes that energize you? People who gravitate toward misery may have addiction problems with drugs, alcohol, and gambling, spending, or unhealthy relationships. They wait until things can’t get worse. The inspired groups may have read a book or saw a television show that got them going, or ran into someone who motivated them. They are typically planners. They think through their changes and decide how they are going to alter their routine to effect change. Some of my clients have actually used both approaches in their lifetime.

How would your life be different if you didn’t have to hit rock bottom and instead could make the choice to change your lifestyle before you were truly down and out? Regardless of which approach speaks to you, the state of ambivalence may be necessary to get you to the next step! When you make the decision to move out of ambivalence it may motivate you to do something about your plight!

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