Behavior change is possible 

Sometimes, you can hear people say: “oh well, that is the nature of the beast.”

An important question: Do you believe in the possibility of changing behavior?  

I believe in this possibility. Some things are relevant for this:

  • A lot of ‘survival behavior’ is strongly ingrained behavior. The greater the tension on ‘survival behavior’, the longer it takes to display new behavior. You may also need some help from an expert (for example, with a trauma or a strong adaptation behavior to be seen by mum or dad)
  • The longer and more often you have shown your behavior, the longer it will take before you are able to convert old behavior into new behavior
  • Some behavioral change studies indicate that you need 10 to 12 weeks to break a pattern. I am talking about this in the video, see link below. My experience is that this is true for ‘slight behavioral changes’. The larger challenges, however, take longer to change, often years.
  • Stress, tensions and hormones have a big influence on the ability to show new behavior
  • Sometimes you also hear people say: “Oh, at my age, that will not work anymore”. I do not believe that age is a very determining factor. Ultimately, the following applies: positive behavioral change always starts with the belief that ‘it is possible’.

Process of converting old behavior to new behavior
I have learned the following from Ken Wilber (born January 31, 1949 in Oklahoma, USA, a mystic, philosopher and ecologist who, among other things, became known for what he himself calls ‘Integral Theory’):

    1. If you have a desire to change behavior, you usually start with ‘conscious practice’ and you continue to reflect
    2. At a certain point, you start recognizing faster and later that you have displayed your old behavior ‘again’
      – [And that’s OK :-)]
    3. Then comes the phase that you recognize  at the moment – that you are showing your old behavior again.
      – The time between these moments is getting shorter and shorter
      – The duration of this phase depends on the extent of the behavioral change
    4. Next comes the phase that you manage – at the moment – to ‘convert’ your old behavior into the new behavior
    5. You manage to do this more often
    6. Until you increasingly realize afterward that you have unconsciously displayed the new behavior –  – The time between these moments is getting shorter and shorter
    7. And then you go to the next level, according to Ken Wilber, because the new behavior has become a matter of course.

I do now know if it is always possible to completely transform old behavior. Certainly, in the case of deeply ingrained behavioral patterns, a fragment will last that can be triggered when experiencing a lot of stress. But remember, every moment where new behavior is being shown, a new step is taken.

In dit filmpje noem ik nog drie valkuilen relevant bij gedragsverandering uit het boek De aard van jouw beestje” van Marc Stijfs en Jos Crijns.