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"people do well when they can do well, not just when they want to do well."

i've used this phrase frequently over the years as it's allowed me to be more compassionate towards others when mistakes occur or when they don't do something i might otherwise expect them to do. it suggests that people lack the skill, not the will, to perform particular behaviours. and although this phrase is true in many instances, there's also other forces at play when it comes to behaviour and changing behaviour.

what incentive does the individual have to change?

have you ever witnessed someone participating in behaviours that are knowingly harmful to their body, only for them to suddenly give it up when they have a health scare? or perhaps you've had a partner who, on multiple occasions had caused you upset, but failed to change their behaviour until you finally decided to leave?

these individuals did not lack the knowledge - they knew what they were doing was causing pain. they didn't lack the means either - these changes were readily available and accessible. what they lacked was the incentive. the reason. the 'why'.

what i've found is that behavioural change often requires a crisis to instigate it. why? a crisis forces us to see how things aren't working; it forces us to change. how then, can we initiate change without a crisis? we need an incentive. and the incentive has to be real, it has to be significant, and it has to be meaningful.

so think back to your own life - when have you made the most significant changes to your life? what prompted that change? was it a health scare? was it the fear of losing someone close to you? what is it that is meaningful to you? and how can you use this as an incentive in your own life to change the things you've been unable to change?

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