Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

Leadership Coach and Mediator


Changing old habits can be hard

“This happens to me all the time. I just can’t quit smoking. I was so committed to not smoke. And then, at last night’s party, I couldn’t resist temptation and smoked one anyway. It is just me. I just don’t have it in me. I know it is bad for my health, I know it is way too expensive, I know my clothes smell terrible, but I just don’t have enough will power to stop. I read ‘Stop smoking’, I tried patches, had an accountability partner, but nothing ever helps. I just don’t have it in me. I am not even gonna try anymore. I am a smoker, and I’ll always be. Let’s just accept that.”

Do you recognize this? Maybe your issue is not with cigarettes, but with eating less sugar, gluten, dairy. With speaking up for yourself. With getting up on stage. With applying for a job.

Maybe you, too, feel discouraged and hopeless about your ability to change old, ingrained habits. Maybe you, too, give up on your ideals. Maybe you, too, don’t trust that you’ll ever take a step towards your dreams.

The number one thing to sustain change

Don’t despair! Change is within your reach. The number one thing you can do for yourself when you want to change your behavior, is to empathize with yourself. With both parts: the part that wants to change, and with the part that wants to remain the status quo. Both the old and the new behavior are strategies to nurture universal needs. Understanding these needs will help you find creative new ways to include all needs.

Maybe not speaking up nurtures a need for acceptance, safety, belonging. Eating chocolate might help to calm ourselves when we’re anxious. Watching television might be our way of comforting ourselves when we are sad and lonely.

Getting up on stage could be a strategy for self-expression. Eating more fruit might be a way for autonomy. Writing blogs can be a form of authenticity.

When we understand why we are doing something, we are more empowered to come up with solutions to that why, that also address our other still unmet needs. When we don’t know why, the solutions we come up with may not serve all our needs. As soon as we connect to àll our needs, we have more space to brainstorm strategies that nurture both sides.

I invite you to empathize with yourself, and connect to the needs behind the behavior you want, and the behavior you don’t like. And once you understand and accept all needs, think of a new year’s resolution to support them.

Find an empathy buddy

If it is hard to empathize with parts you don’t like, find yourself an empathy buddy. A friend, a sibling, a coach. Call me if you want my help (512-589-0482). I would be honored. I’ll teach you empathy skills, and share my compassion. We’ll collaborate, so you will successfully step towards your dreams.

May this year bring you encouragement, excitement and trust.

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