The Journey of Human Behaviour

May 18, 2016

By Bodyfit NT Exercise Physiologist James Ryan

When dealing with change, whether for health or otherwise, our core behaviour follows a pattern called the Stages of Change Model. It is with this model that we can view change as a process that even includes sometimes falling off the bandwagon.

The first stage starts with absolutely no interest in change. Here people can’t see the need to change and have no intention of changing their behaviour. These are the people in our lives which avoid information, discussion or even the thought of change. One thing to be aware of is that while your exposure to different experiences shapes you as an individual, what you do afterwards (especially around change) may be a reflection of your morals, attitudes and beliefs.

For most of us, the next stage comes as we start thinking about the issue or risk and the possible need to make some change by weighing up the pros and cons. It may come from a trigger or real life event which makes you reassess your current situation, and has you constantly analysing your behaviour. When we prepare ourselves for change, we realise the need and make decisions to commit to something, which is an important part of the pre-change steps. This is generally the most unstable time and is usually quite short.

But how do you get beyond this point?

It is difficult to make modifications to your life and start living your ‘new’ life or lifestyle overnight. An important question to ask yourself is, ‘Have I really accepted what needs to be done when weighing up the pros and cons?’

When you feel you’re ready for change, you might find it difficult to be open or receive help and support. This is a useful time for analysing behaviour to improve self-confidence and deal with external pressures. Short term rewards to maintain motivation and assist with developing ‘willpower’ can be beneficial (this might include motivational quotes, scheduling or a partner to keep you on track and remind you why you wanted the change in the first place).

It is a fact that lots of time passes while you’re busy making too many plans. Spending too much time consolidating changes in your behaviour defies your ability to build willpower. Know that risk of relapse is common and a good way to know if you’re starting to develop willpower when your former behaviour is less desirable.

But how long does it take to build enough willpower?

Remember each journey is different, when you have developed enough willpower, your coping strategies generally work and the risk of relapse is minimised.

Keep in mind that relapse can occur at any time, and it is not seen as a failure but rather a learning opportunity to help strengthen coping strategies and support mechanisms. Going back to old behaviours or habits should feel weird. When you reach this stage – feel good and remember your success, no single journey is the same.

Life will take you on many journeys, each experience is different but it is how you respond to the ride is what really counts.

About James:

James is a resident Exercise Physiologist at Bodyfit NT and specialises in helping clients with chronic conditions to make long-term changes to their health through mobility and exercise treatments. Find out more about Bodyfit NT’s Exercise Physiology services here.