Mindful Ways to Help a person Change Unhelpful Behaviors
Brought to you by The Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Although behavior therapy and contingency management remain the most effective means to initiate changes in unhelpful behaviors, more generic approaches offer some promise. See the steps noted below to change an unhelpful behavior.
Help the person decide intrinsically that a change is needed. Work with the person to make images of what the change may look like and feel like. Begin with the smallest possible change the person is willing to consider. Target very small steps to ensure more success.
Associate the change with changes in thinking, feeling and doing. At the same time work to ensure some self-reinforcing energy exists in making the change. How does the change relate to other desires the person may have? Work to improve the persons’ self-efficacy.
Begin with a very small step and encourage its continuation. Plan the rest of the steps in a highly logical manner – small step by small step. It will help to write out the steps in a logical sequence.
Gently push persistence – advising the person to work at expanding the energetic of the change – that is doing it more frequently and for longer periods of time. Trouble-shoot the plan if expansion fails.
Offer only positive, praise-based reinforcement to the person for ALL of their efforts. Add in additional skills and emotional supports each step of the way that may help to ensure success.
If problems exist in maintaining change, consider what habitual social, perceptual or cognitive habits are in the way. To enhance motivation use motivational interviewing (MI) – the costs-benefits grid. Be certain you now how to use the MI grid before deploying it.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, Ph.d., LADC
Author of Mindful Happiness
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