The Desire To Improve

Have you ever thought about what it takes to change? What is it that makes one change successful while another is a miserable failure? How can some people lose 100+ pounds while others cannot get even 20 pounds off? The answer is that it all starts with desire.

12 Step Programs

12 Step programs all across the nature understand this concept. Whether one is talking about addiction to alcohol, drugs, sex, food, or gambling, the effectiveness of these programs revolves around what they term "willingness". The theory is that one will only begin to recover after being yielded willing by whatever the vice is. In other words, did the person receive enough pain to have reached a "bottom".

Obviously this is a personal matter. But, if we translate it to each of us even if not an addicted person, we can see the merits. Why does one lose weight while another fails to do so? Simply, the one who succeeded had the internal desire to achieve the outcome sought. He or she was tired of being the other way. It is only after reaching this point that one can begin the process of change.

Of course, this would also explain why people start yet fail. Perhaps it is a simple as they were not ready. Again, going back to the lessons taught by our addiction therapists, many enter rehab or a 12 step program only to experience a slip backwards. Experts will say the reasoning is the person "simply was not ready to give it up". This lack of willingness led to the downfall.

Again we can bring this same analogy across to whatever behavior we want to focus upon. The only reason why change does not take root is one is attempting something before he or she is ready. There is no other reason for the failure. If this person suffered enough pain through the process of remaining the same, change would be instant. Everything would fall into place ensuring success. Sadly, few, as shown by addicts, ever get to this point.

Increase The Pain

Often the activity we are engaging upon does not have immediate negative results. Taking smoking as an example. Nobody picks up a cigarette for the first time, takes a couple of drags, and drops over dead (unless he or she has an asthma attack). However, we know that long term cigarette use has deadly effects upon the individual. The pain is not immediate but, rather, long term in nature.

Much like the frog in the boiling water, when pain is not immediate and intense, it fails to motivate. If you dont know this story, a frog will literally sit in boiling water and die if you put it in when it is cool and slowly increase the temperature. Drop the frog into water that is already boiling and it will jump out. Nevertheless, a slow increase in temperature is not even notice until it is too late. This parallels how we are as humans.

Thus, we need to increase the pain as quickly as possible. Using the smoking as an example, we know that therapists and counselors have used tactics such as showing pictures of black lung to emphasize the pain in the moment. This helps to bring the future pain to the present moment. Spending time with people who suffer from lung cancer is another "scare" tactic employed to reach the desired end.

Anything that helps one to experience more pain will assist in getting the person to make lasting change. Remember, no pain, no gain. One will not stick with something if it is easier to remain the same. This is true for all change.

Pain versus Pleasure

Which brings us to the final point. Why do we not just increase the pleasure associated with the desired outcome and use that as motivation? Simple. Because that is a failing strategy. Many people have employed that tactic without success. Of course it is easy to picture oneself nice and slim with a fantastic figure. Carrying that mental image is helpful but I would venture to say few who suffer from obesity are motivate much by that. The reason I say this is because they had that image in their head for years and look at the result. It is only after experiencing enough pain that one will take the action necessary for change.

We like to think that we do things for proactive reasons. Sadly, that does not appear to the be human condition. Most people will do a helluva lot more to avoid pain than they will to gain some pleasure. Every Monday, millions of people show up at work because they want to avoid the dreaded situation of having no money to pay their bills. Few will leave a position to pursue something that excites them and instills passion. Instead, they remain locked into a career because the pain of leaving is too difficult. Pleasure is available but pain is the motivator.

Hence, if you are faced with making a change, ramp up the pain factor tenfold. Use whatever mental/psychological tactics necessary to do this. Pain is a tremendous ally. This is what provides us with the desire to improve. Remember, lasting change only occurs after one reaches the point where changing is less painful than remaining the same. Thus, your challenge is to generate enough pain in not changing so that changing is much more attractive. Once this is accomplished, then you will see radical improvement.
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