Ten Useful Ways to Think About Human Behavior and Change

All behavior is motivated by habitual beliefs and feelings resulting in repeated patterns of action that will occur in situations that share common characteristics.

Motivation is overrated, the consequence or effect of one’s actions provides as much useful information. And taken together motivation and effect provide the best means to understand behavior.

Regardless of whether or not a person acts consciously or unconsciously that person, and that person alone is responsible for the behavior exhibited. Other factors may have contributed and are useful for understanding one’s actions, but do not relieve one of one’s responsibility.

The majority of human behavior occurs out of conscious awareness. This applies to an individual’s actions, as well as the actions of family groups and larger human systems.

When wishing to change one’s own or another’s behavior resist the tendency to focus on the past for more than just providing a historical perspective and explanation. Instead, focus primarily on the present circumstances that maintain and perpetuate the behavior you wish to change.

Insight into the dynamics of a particular behavior, e.g. cause, effect, history, is not sufficient to change the behavior. It is however useful in determining the appropriate actions necessary to create desired change in one’s behavior.

Resolving a problem behavior is done best by promoting the solution. This simply means identifying the alternative desired behavior, and creating a plan to meet that objective. And then engaging in that behavior as frequently as one can.

All efforts to alter behavior involve some momentary relapse following improvements. These are not to be taken as failure but should instead be used as a means to learn more about the challenges inherent in making the desired change so one may revise one’s strategy.

Members of one’s family, social, or work group cannot remain neutral to one’s personal change. They may make similar changes, resist one’s changes, or support one’s changes, resulting in some alteration of the relationship they have with the one making change.

Willpower is necessary to alter one’s behavior. As the new behavior becomes more common one’s mental and emotional patterns change accordingly and one acts naturally in the new way. This is an indication one’s personality has undergone some change.

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