Repetition is Key
I am going to repeat this multiple times, but I want to be really clear, right from the start, that changing behaviours is hard work. If it was easy, then you wouldn’t need a program, a workbook, a coach, counsellor, or therapist to help you do it. You may even be someone that needs all of the above, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with whatever it is that you need. I know that I personally needed all the help I could get when I decided to change my addictive behaviour patterns, behaviours that were keeping me stuck in a repetitive life of misery and pain that was caused by the solution I was using for the problems in my life. That being said, we have to be willing to step into the discomfort of change to get where we are trying to get to. Without this willingness to step into the feelings you have probably been running away from for most of your life, you will continually turn back to the PIG to fix your internal state. There will be times when this willingness is extremely dominant in your system, and it seems like you want to do everything you need to do to make the changes you are trying to make. Then there will be times when the opposite is true. This is the nature of the dialectical existence of a multiplistic personality. In that, there are multiple parts of your personality existing at the same time within your personality system, each with a different point of view on the exact same situation.
Understanding, and accepting this as part of the behaviour change process is a place we have to start. There will be times when this is easy, and times when it is hard, and just a quick reminder that it is expected that you will fail at some point, or even at multiple points of your journey. This is ok, and at the same time dialectically speaking it is not ok as, you will see when we go over your values and beliefs, this compromises your values system. We will develop new ways for you to process the guilt and shame of your relationship with failure, as we build new healthy ways for your parts to cope. But first we have to be aware of what’s happening inside your personality system so we can work with the parts that are trying to survive. We start this process by learning how to set healthy goals that are achievable for us on a regular basis. Goals we can reach every single day. Then, when we accomplish the goal, we acknowledge the achievement from a place of mindful awareness. Recognizing the different events of your daily life that you have acted in ways that show you “did well,” and giving yourself an internal reward, a “pat on the back” for doing something well, is how we begin to fill the internal void and build internal motivation.
"There are multiple parts of your personality existing at the same time within your personality system, each with a different point of view on the exact same situation"
There is some amazing information out there from multiple resources about the research that has been done into ways in which internal rewards create motivation. Dialectically, it has been shown that external rewards create a desire to seek instant gratification in ways that are detrimental to our mental well being, and personal development. One of the leaders in this research, that I have recently discovered, is a man called Andrew Huberman. I stumbled across a video of his, in which he was discussing his work on creating internal rewards and understanding the dopamine system. He described a study that was completed whereby students at a preschool level were allowed to colour and draw whenever they wanted to in the classroom environment. This led to the majority of children participating in this behaviour all the time, taking pleasure from the internal reward of a job well done. After some time, teachers introduced external rewards for drawing and colouring that were given out for each individual accomplishment.
The children continued to draw, relishing in the act of receiving these new rewards for their artistic endeavours. As the study continued, after a period of time, the teachers removed the external reward, and asked the children to continue drawing, simply for the internal sense of achievement. The participation in artistic expression dropped dramatically, as the children were no longer able to create their motivation through internally rewarding themselves, they wanted the instant gratification of the external acknowledgment. This is a great example of how Instant Gratification can be problematic. While there is nothing wrong with externally rewarding yourself from time to time, if it is the only way you receive acknowledgement for your accomplishments it can lead to a lack of motivation if the reward is no longer present or possible. We have to teach the parts of our personality that are seeking external reward, that we have to reward ourselves internally too if we want to become the Healthy Adult version of who we are right now. I have attached a link to the conversation I watched with Andrew Huberman in the references of this book, so please take the time to explore his work as you develop your curiosity about this topic for yourself.