Resistance to Change, Part III

Our previous two articles explored the first two of three big reasons resolutions fail. You remember, “Knowing what to do, but not doing what we know.”

We’ve covered that Ecology is a big reason for many. Sometimes we want to introduce a new behavior that, while we may desire it and believe it will be good for us, would introduce conflict into other parts of our lives. Perhaps parts that, without the change, are doing well.

Then we explored how at times the daily, committed actions we decide we must follow are simply painful. If we don’t enjoy doing them, we typically won’t.

Now we’re going. to delve into the third reason. And for many people, this is the only one necessary to address.

Our focus may be on the little picture when we are more goal-oriented and “big-picture” focused.

And it can be. Though if you don’t change the landscape, update your Map, if you will, there isn’t much reason to believe it.

Though as we consider doing this, let’s play for a second. Let’s look at where such resolutions frequently miss their success, and give you new insight so you don’t have to.

There are three reasons New Year’s Resolutions, and structurally speaking, any long-term commitments don’t succeed. Today we’re going to look at the third, Let’s first review them, and what we’ve learned so far in order to claim the change we want.

  1. Verify that the change you want is ecological
  2. Identify daily, regular actions that can create then reinforce the change which you enjoy doing
  3. Create the change and motivation at the appropriate level for you.

Our focus, as we consider a change, may be on the little picture when we are more goal-oriented and “big-picture” focused. There is no wrong way unless it doesn’t work…let that sink in. As long as you get the change you want, that way worked for you. Though in examining what has historically interfered with this, we should consider whether we’re solving the real problem.

I knew a woman who was medically “obese.” She decided that the solution to this challenge was liposuction and worked to find a way to afford this procedure. But you already know what happened. As she was healing from the procedure, she indeed appeared much lighter. But within mere months, she’s returned to her original weight. A couple months later, she’d surpassed her original degree of obesity.

Does liposuction not work? It’s a silly question, yes, but if we judge a change by its outcome, it seems fair to ask.

Of course, it works. But “working” wasn’t really the issue. Clearly there are behaviors involved which she never addressed. This isn’t much different from another person I knew who was deeply in debt. He owed vast amounts (in relation to his earnings) on credit cards and loans. He decided that the answer for him was a consolidation loan. Much like liposuction in the prior example,he sought a “quick fix” and believed that would solve his issue.

But as before, you know what happened, don’t you? He got the loan, consolidated that debt on that loan, and suddenly found his credit card balances at zero. All that buying power! Within a few months, he’d maxed them all out again and was trying to get additional loans. Doing so, he’d effectively made his problem two times worse than before the consolidation.

In both examples, these people addressed a symptom, the outcome, of their chosen behaviors. What they quickly and painfully learned was that addressing the symptom alone won’t create true change.

Since both symptoms could be traced to a similar origin–remember Structural Thinking?–behaviors, the answer was to change the behaviors. NLP has a tool contributed by the great Robert Dilts, Logical Levels, we can apply here.

We don’t have enough time to delve deeply into Logical Levels, but the thumbnail sketch is: Before we decide on a change, we must determine where, at what Logical Level, we experience it.

  1. Spirituality – focus is on what matters more to us than ourselves. This can include our place in society as much as in the universe.
  2. Identity – focus on who we are, what we’re like, and what drives us.
  3. Beliefs – focus on the reasons behind a behavior, which may either support, or interfere with, a change.
  4. Capability – focus on how to make the change, including any skills we must develop, tools we must acquire.
  5. Behavior – focus on what we did, thought, and what we did as a result.
  6. Environment – cause is external, often contains blaming and complaining.

Attempts to create change are harder when we approach the problem from the wrong level for us. Using Dilts’ Levels above, for instance, let’s look at the two people above. Both experienced their problem at the Environment Level. Both believed that their problem “just happened” to them. As though none of their own decisions or behaviors played a role. In fairness, they each tried to create change at that same Logical Level. But the actual cause was further up the levels. A skilled NLPer may have walked through each Level with them, exploring the fit to the problem, then when finding a match, addressed the problem and its solution at that Level.

When I worked with each, I found that each had issues at the Identity, Beliefs, Capability and Behavior Levels as well. Making slight adjustments at each switched on their proverbial light bulbs and they saw how they could address the root cause of their problems.

Though for our purpose here, when we want to make a change, that third common reason for lack of success may be very well due to a mismatch of this sort. We’ll look at Logical Levels in much more detail in a future article, but for now, Happy New Year, enjoy your holiday, and as you ready your Resolutions, consider the three issues we’ve explored. Everything is possible with the right strategy.

Copyright © 2022 Chris Gingolph

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