Why don’t people change?
Understanding the connection between feeling ‘normal’ and being ‘healthy’
By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and founder of the LifeWorks Group in Winter Park
People don't change until they think they need to, in fact, it’s completely and totally impossible to experience real behavioral change, (lasting longer than 21 days), without understanding this foundational process and more importantly, knowing what to do about it in your personal life or situation. This is based on the dramatic difference between two extremely powerful dynamics that can be traced back to our deepest beliefs which lay buried inside our heart, (spirit) and our brain, (soul). It is essential to know the difference between these two psychological elements because it is the absolute most important part of moving forward to experience dramatic life change.
Until you understand how this internal process impacts you personally, you will be helpless and powerless as you spiral back and forth between habitual behavior and hopelessness. However, when you take time to understand these internal dynamics a couple of important things begin to happen. Your failure cycle begins to slow, and then stop and then begin to spin in a new direction toward a better way of life. While this sounds good, be forewarned- the longer you have reinforced a pattern of habitual failure; the harder it may be to head into a new direction of real change, one that begins on the inside long before you see it show up on the outside.
Here is the basic formula to understand the process of real and lasting change in your personal or professional life; followed by a comprehensive analysis of each to guide you past the mental barriers block you from achieving the process of lasting change so you can begin to live a better quality of life-
One force is fueled by the very powerful emotional connection of ‘feeling Normal’
The other force is driven by an even more powerful dynamic- ‘being Healthy’
There are multiple factors which cause an individual to feel "normal" which simply means, 'normal to me'. Even though you don’t think about it very much, you already know almost every single element that has built up to create this massive internal belief that affects so much of every aspect of your behavior in every part of your life- home, work, relationships, finances, spirituality and health.
Different people describe it different ways; like feeling comfortable or trying to be reasonable; others may describe it through comparisons like, ‘everyone does it this way,’ or ‘everybody knows that this is the right way to do it,’ and still others use the rationale of ‘it’s crazy not to do it this way’ because to them it is totally automatic to view a situation according to their previous life experiences. No matter how many roads you zoom down to try and describe the process, all roads eventually lead back to your core belief about what it really means to be normal.
Here are a few of the more than one hundred variables that psychologists and behavioral counselors can use to measure how you define being normal. Think through them while you are reading to see how quickly you can spot how some of these factors have influenced and shaped your life.
Age, gender, culture, educational level, birth order, number of siblings, family background, personality, socio-economic factors, religious beliefs, work ethic, marital history, community values, family of origin, work experiences, school experiences, failures, successes, accidents, illnesses, organizational ability, friends, peers, professional colleagues, vacations, travel, holidays, teams, sports, concerts, entertainment events, geographic moves, difficult changes, painful losses, significant births, tragic deaths, traumatic events, wise mentors, patient coaches, caring teachers, loving pastors, gentle grandparents, reading books, mass-media, television, music or film, childhood memories, and the list of key factors goes on and on.
Remember, it’s not one or even a dozen factors that lead to our understanding of what is ‘normal’ because it’s based on a very complex mental process that is simple for us to sort through since we grew up with it, but extremely difficult for others to try and grasp without specific training or extensive education on the subject. Also, unless someone is very well connected to knowing what they believe inside, the media influences that come from images or ideas found in television, films, music, magazines or music are among the greatest forms of influence of what each of us believe to be ‘normal’.
Normal is our way of trying to describe things that feel comfortable or acceptable to us as well as being one of the main factors that lead to shaping what we automatically come to expect from others and what we eventually begin to attack in ourselves. You are beginning to see that ‘normal’ doesn’t mean what you think it does, and the opposite of normal isn’t really abnormal or ‘crazy’ even though that’s how a lot of people try to describe it because it feels so different, weird or difficult to comprehend.
This is why what appears to be ‘crazy’ to some is completely and totally acceptable and even automatic to others. Some people boldly label others as ‘health-nuts’ and they only smile and take it as a compliment, while others who are boldly called ‘junk-food junkies’ or ‘couch potatoes’ simply laugh it off as a joke. Both sides may be trying to boldly communicate a point, but all the other person hears is noise because they know deep inside their heart and mind that they are normal, and everyone else would of course then believe what they believe- because it’s so, well, normal! Think about all of the conflict, confusion and miscommunication that come into our lives because of this very powerful connection between what is ‘normal’ and what is really considered ‘healthy’.
For example, research shows that 80% of American women don’t like their body image at all, and many even report completely hating their body image.
Is this because they don’t have the ability to take a deep breath, or have clear skin tone, or ten fingers, ten toes, two ears, one nose and two eyes that can track light? (Which is how many hospitals ‘score’ a newly delivered baby who has just arrived on the planet via their mother’s tummy- they measure that child’s normal appearance and functioning body parts using the Apgar scale
What is the Apgar score?
One minute — and again five minutes — after a baby is born, doctors calculate the Apgar score to see how he's doing. It's a simple process that helps determine whether your newborn is ready to meet the world without additional medical assistance. This score — developed by anesthesiologist Virginia Apgar back in 1952 is used to rates a baby's appearance, pulse, responsiveness, muscle activity, and breathing with a number between zero and 2 (2 being the strongest rating). The numbers are totaled, and 10 is considered a perfect score, It's easy to remember what's being tested by thinking of the letters in the name "Apgar": Activity, Pulse, Grimace, Appearance, and Respiration.
Or is because they don’t believe they measure up to “Hollywood” standards of outward beauty and appearance? (which is about a lot more than the right number of body parts because it is based on looking, acting and behaving on the outside like some celebrity they will never meet, instead of just acting like themselves and being at peace with who they are on the inside). If a woman embraces the false belief that a particular body image will guarantee acceptance and approval she will never be happy on the inside, because age and gravity will always be working against her on the outside.
Contrast this unbelievable amount of insecurity in American females, (some as young as 9 years old), with women in other parts of the world where these media influences aren’t present and you know what happens? The opposite thing happens. That’s because those women aren’t influenced by outside images at all, so they don’t worry about their body size at all either. Why is that? Because the word “normal” to them is based on more realistic factors much closer to their own experience, genetics and culture.
American parents seem to spend way too much time begging, pleading or demanding that their daughters either lose or gain weight, yet it’s often totally ignored and interpreted as nothing but noise by a girl who has been heavily influenced by the unrealistic images of beauty painted by media, instead of an obtainable body image based on who she is as a young woman perfectly designed by a God who loves her very much. Regardless of age, nothing really can change in a man or woman’s behavior or lifestyle until there is a change in thinking about what feels ‘normal’ to the much bigger dynamic of personal beliefs that dramatically can lead us to a lifetime of really being ‘healthy’.
Another example that may describe intellectually almost everyone knows they shouldn’t smoke tobacco; however, that knowledge doesn’t change their behavior one bit. There is more information available on the dangers of smoking tobacco now than there ever has been in the history of the world, yet it doesn’t stop people from buying or smoking cigarettes with virtually no regard for the health risks that are printed on the side of every pack.
Little kids can even beg their parents with tears to ‘please stop smoking’ while pouring out their anger, love or fears over their own mom or dad’s health yet it does no good to change the behavior, or to change it for very long. What’s going on? Are they nuts? What more could it possibly take to get the message across than the broken heart of one’s own son or daughter? A million dollars? Nope- or ten million either because no amount of money, begging, pleading, or even legal boundaries about age or not smoking in an elevator or bed for basic safety can change a person’s use of tobacco from the outside, when they have accepted how normal and necessary it is for them to have it on the inside.
This powerful, (but often invisible to us), dynamic functions as an ‘auto-pilot’ in our brain and can trigger continual conflicts, habitual impulsiveness, compulsive behaviors or addictive relapses every single time it comes up- from age five to eighty-five. It is the source behind being completely out of control with our words or actions, even when we know better- at home or work and typically gets worse over time if not addressed. This dynamic is also what ignites or explodes the major problems we have with other people, because it is the source of most marital fights, business failures and financial struggles.
Our invisible expectations are quite visible to everyone else, yet silently keep growing bigger inside of us because they are often fueled by our core beliefs and strongly held convictions about what is ‘normal’ and ‘right’ to want or desire in a particular situation at home or work, no matter how out of balance, unreasonable, irrational or expensive that desire might actually be. This process actually gets much more intense based on the closeness and connection of the relationship being considered- which explains why we seem to demand the most from the people in our family and the least from total stranger… leading to dumping the most anger and frustration on the one we are supposed to love the most; while apologizing and being the most kind to a stranger. The closer you are- the more you will either add tremendous value to a better quality of life, or cause the most pain- there isn’t much middle ground on this one.
There are almost as many techniques and therapeutic approaches that can be used to map out how to change each individual element of being ‘normal’ so you can imagine that it might take a long time to struggle through each and everyone to finally ‘get your life together’ enough to begin to really practice the principles that lead to a lifetime of wellness, contentment and peace. Good news! There is a better way! One that you can begin right now called, “Never Go Back” and it’s based on the principles of being Healthy, instead of just feeling normal.
These factors are almost always enmeshed and intertwined throughout multiple areas of our lives and determine the base level of self-esteem, self-discipline and self-motivation that shape a tremendous amount of the success we will have in life. (about 80% or so), Once you can determine what a person will do in a particular set of circumstances, you can almost always predict what they will do again and again. Some people have a built in belief system about life that causes them to continually self-improve in some areas while just as quickly self-destructing in others, (think Elvis). Why such an imbalance and gap? Because they grew up where certain ‘core values were continually taught, modeled, and rewarded so in that area, they learned the ‘habit’ of success. Once you the see how easy it is to view the image
This tremendously powerful dynamic between what is ‘Normal’ & ‘Healthy’ is especially easy to get confused when it’s about something we have to deal with every single day of our lives from the cradle to the grave; nope, it’s not love- and it’s not money- but it is food. Sometimes the most common problem for many people begins in their childhood because they begin to use food to ‘fix’ other problems or pressures. It doesn’t work for kids and eventually destroys adults.
You are beginning to see that the changes necessary to Never Go Back are based on internal beliefs and core values, instead of external changes like joining a new fitness club or buying a bathing suit you can’t fit into to hang in the bathroom as an incentive to change. That’s why some people never seem to get better because all they have ever known is failure and frustration and the hopelessness of gradually giving up on their dreams. They don’t know what’s like to live free from the psychological power of food controlling their lives, so they keep trying and trying a process that brings more pain, difficulty and failure; while their dreams of a healthier lifestyle are slipping away and slowly dying and dying.
There is something better than just dreaming about a balanced and healthy lifestyle- living it! That’s what this book is about. This process has worked for others for countless centuries because it’s built on the God’s foundational truths that never change and will always work, regardless of a person’s gender, age, culture, personality, resources or education. Good news! By reading this far, you have already taken some bold steps to experience a permanent lifestyle change, because you now understand the internal dynamic that points you toward continual self-improvement or self-destruction. Now you can move forward to understand how something as basic as food can be triggered in one of four predictable ways, any one of which can continually defeat you from real change, or continually bring wellness to your body, mind and spirit. It’s time to take what you learned and move forward to master the food triggers that have held you back for too long.
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About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. He is a member of the National Speakers Association and partners with media, major corporations and non-profit organizations to make a positive difference in our culture.
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