Why do people feel entitled to tell a friend or family member how they should live their life?
If the loved one is heavy, their friends and family don’t hold back from saying, “If you eat ____ you will never lose weight!” Or they may say, “You have to eat ______ to lose weight!” It is the same with smoking and exercise. But, what if their loved one is not ready to change? Yes, I said not ready to make a change!
There is a real possibility that if a person is forced to alter their lifestyle when not ready, he/she will fail and become very discouraged. This in turn will affect future overtures to transform. Believe it or not, there are actual stages of behavioral change that people have to go through to make a transformation that lasts a lifetime. *
Sometimes it just isn’t the right time in a person’s life to make adjustments. The bad habit may fill a need. It could be that a person does not know how to change. Finally, there are people who will not alter their routine just because they don’t want someone else telling them what to do.
I am not condoning keeping bad habits or a lack of positive lifestyle changes. Just the opposite. What I am saying is most people have a drive to be independent and there can be push back if forced to change before having the desire to do so. This push back may cause life adjustments to fail.
Will an over-eater, smoker, or sedentary person stay stuck in his/her bad habit forever?
Unhealthy habits can be replaced. One thing that works is to wait for the right time and the right motivation. When a motivator appears in a person’s life, grabbing on to it and making it work can produce the needed change. Here is an example. Let us say that a smoker recently became a grandparent. Not wanting to smoke near the baby or not modeling unhealthy behavior may become a strong motivator to stop smoking. It may even become just the right motivator that can move the smoker to the next level of change. The individual may want to look for that sliver of light, and move slowly toward it. This doesn’t have to be a quick process.
Transformation happens best when there is a buy in, and the change becomes personally important. If adjustments are forced, chances are they will not last. Let the idea come from the individual.
Setting goals to change when a person is not ready could cause failure. If he/she is going to go through all the hard work to make a change, it is necessary to ensure that there is a strong motivational buy in to make it permanent.
*(Prochaska, J.O. & Prochaska, J.M (2016). Changing To Thrive: Using The Stages Of Change To Overcome The Top Threats To Your Health And Happiness.)
Ellen Corey, M.A. CWP, Wellness, Life & Accountability Coach
Ellen@coachingbycorey.com held at Journeys Health and Wellness Center
(Accountability Groups, second Thursday of the month at 9:00, or 10:30 a.m.)