How to Create Change That Can Actually Stick

Changing problematic behavior isn’t easy. 

Even if you have the best of intentions, you’re dedicated, and initially motivated, it’s still difficult to stick with a positive change to see it through. 

Why? The brain likes habits. It likes routine and familiarity. When you’ve been acting a certain way and living out a routine and behaviors for so long, your brain doesn’t want to change. 

On top of that, things like stress, tiredness, and even feeling burned out from work and life can cause you to quickly lose your motivation to change.

But, it’s not impossible to create change that can actually stick. You can take full control over your behaviors with a few helpful tips.

Listen to Your Mind and Body

One of the best ways to start focusing on behavioral changes is to be more mindful. Pause and consider how you feel when you’re engaging in problematic behavior. What’s going on in your mind and body? What do you feel and where do you feel it? What thoughts do you notice?

By being mindful during those behaviors, you’ll get better insight into why they’re so difficult to change, and why you do them. Awareness is crucial to change. 

Practice Accepting Discomfort

You might not like some of your problematic behaviors. 

You might wish you could do things differently, which is why you want to create change, in the first place. 

But, no matter how against certain behaviors you are, they can often feel like security blankets. They provide a sense of comfort because you’re used to them. 

It’s hard to step out of your comfort zone, even when you know it’s the right thing to do. So, to change your behaviors, practice taking baby steps out of that zone. Accept discomfort, and recognize that it’s going to take some “growing pains” for change to stick. 

No one likes to be uncomfortable. But, it’s through that discomfort that you will truly grow. Accepting and sitting with uncomfortable feelings is essential to make changes. 

Repeat Different Behaviors

Again, the brain likes repetition and habit. Some people say it takes ten days to form a habit, but you don’t need to put that kind of pressure on yourself. Habits form differently for everyone. The important thing is repeating a behavior for as long as it takes until it shifts into that habitual state. 

Be patient with yourself. Be compassionate and kind to yourself. Change isn’t easy, and if it feels like something isn’t sticking, it’s important to understand that it will. 

Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking your behavioral changes need to be “all or nothing”. Set small, manageable goals for yourself. As you achieve them, it will give you a motivational boost to keep working toward the next one. 

You didn’t lock yourself into a pattern of negative behaviors overnight, so it’s unfair to think that you can create change that will stick right away, either. When you’re willing to be patient and accept that lasting change takes lasting effort, you’ll end up with a much better result. 

Don’t Do It On Your Own

You may have gotten into some problematic habits on your own, but you don’t have to get out of them alone. 

It’s when you feel you don’t have the support that you’re more likely to give up. You might forget that failure and setbacks are part of the process. A strong support system is necessary to lift you back up so you can keep moving forward. That can be family members, friends, or mental health professionals. 

If you want to truly make a change, feel free to contact us. We’re here to support you and can offer more suggestions on how to make those new habits stick. 

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Bethesda, MD 20814
202-656-3376

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