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Centerpointe Research

Behavior

Why People Can’t Change

Why people can’t change:

1.  They would have to admit they were wrong about something.

2.  They might have to make some other changes too.

3.  It would take too much time.

4.  They are waiting for somebody else to change first.

5.  They would have to admit that they wasted time or money doing the wrong thing.

6.  They might have to admit that somebody else was right and they were wrong or too much pride and too much emphasis on winning some type of competition.

7.  Having to be always right even if it kills you.

Why they should change:

1.  To stop putting money down a rat hole.

2.  To become an example for somebody else.

3.  To stop wasting time defending why they can’t change.

4.  To save more  time and money after investing some current time and money making a change.

5.  To stop having to hide some deficiency from others.

6.  To learn something new.

In the long run there are great benefits:  For example, learning to drive as an adult.  Erased my dependency on others.  Gave me freedom.

amygdala

 

 

 

Acknowledge Your Feelings But Don’t Let Them Control You

amygdalaFeelings can be overwhelming and are necessary at times.  Grief for example, must be expressed sooner or later.  It is very damaging especially to relationships if it can not be shared.  When I am very hungry, I get so mad that I could spit nails.  When I am with family or friends I warn them when I get that way.  I am literally not able to fulfill others’ requests until I get something to eat.  You probably could name more.

Some feelings people feel are so strong that they literally take over and people thus say that they “involuntarily” do things that they may or may not regret later.  They are out of control but it is not their fault.  For example, someone says, “He made me so mad…” and this justifies whatever that person does next.

Are we responsible for our feelings?  Well, “Yes,” and “No”.   We are frequently conditioned at a very young age to respond with negative feelings to certain things.   We may be even given rational explanations for feeling that way that we accept as something that motivates us to do certain certain things and often enables us to not accept responsibility for what we do then.

How do we resist all that conditioning?  It can effectively put limits on our life if we let it.   It is often difficult to undo.   How often have we heard someone say, “I can’t help it,” in relation to performing these type of learned behaviors.  Is it a Get Out of Jail Free” card like in Monopoly?

What have you learned to feel and to respond to in certain situations.  Is it you that is behind it or did you catch it from somewhere or someone else?

 

Variables That Effect Behavior

Regular psychology not allowed...

Regular psychology not allowed… (Photo credit: Bill McIntyre)

Experimental Psychologists study the variables that effect behavior in humans, animals, and sometimes plants.  The problem with conducting such studies is that there are many possible variables that may effect behavior.  When you conduct research you must be able to control as many variables as possible and be able to isolate the one or ones that you want to study and manipulate them in a controlled fashion.  The more control you have over different variables the less likely it is that the experimental situation will resemble what happens in everyday life.

The ideal experimental psychologist has to have some background involving the naturalistic observation of the behaviors or behaviors being studied.  The act of observation effects the behavior or behaviors being studied.  This has been found to be true in physics.  You can’t measure something without effecting it in some way.  The simplest study in psychology is watching what is going on in interactions between humans and between animals and even between plants and even more complexly between each form of life and the other forms of life.  In fact, often so much is going on that it is easy to miss things that later prove to be important.

Psychologists get their ideas on what variables that effect behavior from other psychologists’ research and observations and also from others’ theories about human, animal, and plant behavior.  It is good to know about past results in the field and to use these results to plan what to do in the future.  The problem is that any mistakes that were made in these studies could be replicated and perpetuated in the theories formulated from them.  The problem is that as science changes so does our view of the world and new things can be measured and observed in ways that were never thought of before.

Prejudices can effect the variables that effect behavior and experiments can be designed that perpetuate these beliefs.  Psychological studies have been done that suggest that if the person running the experiments, knows what effect that they want to get that will make that effect more likely to happen than if they don’t know.

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Why People Do What They Do

reward-punishment Do you know why people do what they do?  Do you think psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors know this automatically when they get information about a new client’s problem?  Sometimes it takes at least just a little more knowledge about a situation than what has been given to start with to understand why something is happening.  I was taught to do behavior modification therapy and although the process I used was by the book; it had to be tweaked to work right.  The necessary rewards and punishments had to motivate the client to do or not do a certain specified behavior or behaviors.  For example, I have a family member for whom chocolate ice cream wouldn’t work, but for time for this family member to take a nice long bath would.

Marestail shows moisture at high altitude, sig...

Marestail shows moisture at high altitude, signalling the later arrival of wet weather. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This has been a problem not only when doing behavior therapy but also when doing other kinds of therapy.  Sometimes it’s not what you think that is why people do what they do.  I knew of a farmer who drank when the weather forecast was bad.  I figured he was upset that he couldn’t get into the field the next day and was worried that he wouldn’t get his crops in or out.  No, I found out later that he knew he could drink that evening because he wouldn’t be operating farm equipment the next day.

Smoking cessation

Smoking cessation (Photo credits: www.mysafetysign.com)

I was using a very successful method of hypnosis for helping a person to quit smoking and I was getting nowhere.  The person had very serious health problems caused by smoking.  When I did a through follow-up interview, I found out that the only thing that person did for his or her own enjoyment was smoking.  He or she constantly did for others 24/7.  The amount of such work that he or she did was mind boggling.  He or she was at the beck and call of family and friends.

 

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Give Someone a Chance

Failure

Failure (Photo credit: awsandlight)

If a person tries to do something differently, make sure you don’t turn their attempt into a failure because you don’t want to be disappointed again and find it easier to expect and accept failure again.  Is it easier to expect failure and have it happen than it is to expect success and have a failure instead?  People can develop a negative attitude about other people and can make it difficult to impossible for that person to change.  Failures are easy to see while successes can be easy to miss if you have a prejudicial attitude.  Often initial attempts at changing behavior are hard to see and it can be seen as accepting too little to reward small, seemingly inept changes in a person’s behavior.   Initially it may be harder to be “good” than bad and the person’s knowledge of what constitutes  acceptable behavior is limited and may not meet many of the other person’s criteria.  In fact, it may even initially look more like unacceptable behavior than acceptable behavior.  For example, a husband’s idea of dressing appropriately to go out might consist of putting on clean clothes, i.e. khaki pants and a new tee shirt while the wife expects a dress shirt or a polo shirt and a sports  jacket or sweater.  The poor husband might get bawled out instead of praised for this attempt to dress appropriately.

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Do You Think About What You Do

Defence mechanisms

Defence mechanisms (Photo credit: kevin dooley)

Or do you just do it?  Is your intuition leading you in the right direction?  Or are you often finding that your intentions are misunderstood?  You don’t always create the right impression.  You can’t make the other person react the way you want them to react and/or make them react the way other people have reacted in the past for you.

You need to be alert and sensitive as to how the other person you are dealing with is accepting your contribution.  The sooner that you pick up on the fact that this particular action of yours is not going over well or being taken in the way that it has been taken by others in the past the sooner you can set things right.

Often people blame the other person for not taking it well and don’t consider their own contribution to the problem.  This leads to the use of various defense mechanisms by the person who does not recognize that acknowledging the other person’s reaction is better than denying it, rationalizing it away, or forcing the other person to accept their interpretation of it.

This often happens in abusive situations where the aim of the person is to control the other person’s behavior.  Passive aggression and mental abuse often accompany this type of behavior.  This person, rather than admitting that he or she did something wrong as far as the other person was concerned, continues to reinforce the idea that they were just teasing, were misunderstood, or didn’t mean what he or she said.

 

 

 

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Other People’s Quirks

The logo of Quirks and Quarks.

The logo of Quirks and Quarks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How come other people have quirks and we don’t or are we fooling ourselves?  Does what other people do sometimes not make sense and we can’t understand why they continue to do something which to us doesn’t seem to work.

It is very difficult to change human behavior especially since we usually focus on changing other people’s behavior, not our own.  What someone else does, which seems ignorant to us, often does not make them uncomfortable so why do they need to change even if we would like them to.

Change can be difficult because if you knew how to do it, you probably would have done it long ago.  Sometimes we know how to do it, but we don’t want to do it.  There is something we don’t like about doing it.  Think of all the New Year’s resolutions that get broken.

Thus we might have quirks of our own, behaviors that we can’t or won’t change, that annoy others.  We can learn to accept other people’s quirks and live with them or we can cut bait and go fish somewhere else.  This often happens after many attempts to communicate that something isn’t working and possibly not being heard.  Most people don’t practice active listening.
They are too busy thinking of what they want to say in response to what you said that they are unable to tell you what you actually said versus what they think you said.

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Who’s Defensive?

Are you open minded or do you frequently deny that the problem might be with you and not someone else.  In The Games People Play, there is a game called, “Why don’t you, yes, but.”   It happens when someone comes with a problem to be solved and rejects every possible solution the therapist proposes.  I suspect that to be seen as having such a problem and having it be your fault is unacceptable.  The person can maintain this attitude even after receiving disastrous feedback, numerous times.

The behavior that is involved is often so crucial to the person’s functioning that they can’t do without it.  For example, other people see the person’s inappropriate behavior and comments as offensive, but he or she continues to feel that the problem is that the other person can not take a joke or a friendly flirtation.  This is a frustrating situation for all involved.  The person receiving the comments is obviously very uncomfortable and may stop interacting with the person who gives them while the person who gives them claims to be mystified as to why the relationship was ended when they were just being friendly.

The solution to this situation involves some dearly needed problem solving on the person’s part who does not recognize that they need to change their behavior in these interactions which end so unsatisfactorily.  Obviously they are lacking in some social skills.  They have a problem seeing the real impact that their behavior has on others.  Thus they see no need to change their behavior in these situations.

games people play

games people play (Photo credit: girlguyed)

 

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How to Change Behavior

Me And My Parents

Me And My Parents (Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik)

Part of a parent’s job is to modify the behavior of their child or children to protect them from danger and to learn more appropriate ways for their child or children to get what they want or need.  For this we get very little training and what we do know we have learned from the way our parents‘ raised us.  It is surprising to me that for one of the most difficult jobs in life we get very little education.  How we acquire knowledge is very important and yet it is often not studied by the very people who need it.

Behavior modification has been around for a long time.  It has been taught to mental health professions, parents, teachers, and others.  It seems very simple to do, but it is not that easy to apply.  It takes some finesse and that is what makes it work for some users and not for other users.   In this method, behavior change is facilitated by the use of rewards and punishments.  Rewards can be given consistently or they can be given intermittently.  The latter rather than the former is more effective.  The behavior targeted to change is also important.  Punishment focuses on the wrong, unwanted behavior and rewards focus on the desired behavior.  It is usually best to develop an appropriate behavior by rewarding it with which to replace the “bad” behavior.  An appropriate replacement behavior for one child might not work for another child.  Also the effectiveness of the reward used depends on what the child likes to do or have. Social rewards like praise are better in the long run than concrete ones.

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Making Judgments

There are some things worth making judgments about and there other things not worth making judgments about.   When life or death decisions are to be made, it is important to use good judgment.  When personal taste is involved, it sometimes makes no sense to always inflict our opinions on others.  Not everyone has the same standard of beauty or shares the same taste in food.  Newlyweds or those couples living together for the first time often find this out rather quickly.  I was in a grocery store once and a young couple were making their first shopping trip together.  They couldn’t seem to agree on anything.  My husband and I both cook, but I am more likely to add salt to things and he is more likely to add sugar.  I mistakenly believed too that who one thought was a beautiful woman or a handsome man was shared by others.  One of the females in my family and I were talking about actresses and I found that certain actresses that I thought were not beautiful were found to be very attractive to her.

Gossip 0ften mostly involves making judgments about others’ “bad” qualities or behaviors.  Usually when such comparisons are made,  we feel better about ourselves by comparison.  Rather than making judgments, perhaps we should practice making and giving complements.  In psychology it has been found that giving rewards such as praise for “good” or desired behaviors is more effective in changing behavior than punishing or criticizing undesirable behaviors.  I have found that rather than joining in when someone is making negative comments about someone or their behavior, if I point out some good qualities of the person and/or my more positive personal experiences with that person, it changes the tone of the conversation and makes it more productive  “Bad” reputations never did anybody any good..  .  .

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