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Motivate Healthy Habits

A Mutual Aid and Self-help guidebook for you, your family and friends with learning exercises, examples and stories.
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Motivational Practice

A guidebook for lay health guides & professionals. Learn professional skills for everyday life.
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"Be the change that you wish to use in the world"


Discover the Steps that You Need to Take

Explore the challenge of changing your unhealthy habits. What are you emotionally up against? If you underestimate your challenge, you may become over-confident (I can quit drinking any time). If you overestimate your challenge, you may lack the confidence to change (I feel hopeless about quitting smoking).

Understand Your Challenge

It is important to understand what you are up against, in terms of clarifying your issues about change.

Step 1 - Use a decision balance to clarify your issues about change Identify the issues that hinder and help your prospects of changing. Then, assess your resistance and motivation, based on what you think and how you feel. "I think that I should change but they don't feel like it" is universal human experience. If you only listen to your head (I can quit drinking any time), you may fall into the "good intention" trap. If you only feel resistance in their heart (I feel hopeless about quitting smoking), you may think that you will never change: a discouraging, self-fulfilling prophecy.

Step 2 - Assess your competing priorities

What are the competing priorities in your life that make it difficult for you to change? Is your life out of balance, with too many tasks and too little time? How could you go about changing your priorities, especially if you are running on empty? Where do you begin?

Step 3 - Evaluate your energy level to change

How much energy can you devote to making changes in your unhealthy habits? What is draining your energy ...worry, anxiety or depression? What would help to restore your energy level so you can really work on change?

Step 4 - Examine your motives

Why are you changing? To what extent,

  • Are you apathetic or indifferent about changing?
  • Do you think that you must, should or ought to change?
  • Are you changing because other people want you to change?
  • Are you changing because it is really important for you?
  • Do you have a mixture of these motives?

Do your motives change over time? Where are you now?

Master the Process of Change

Is your head (I think that I should change) and heart (but I don't feel like it) working against one another? Learn how to U-turn your emotional resistance into effective motivation so that your head and heart on working together on change.

Step 1 - Explore your perceptions about risks, benefits and harms

Understanding how your perceptions perpetuate your unhealthy habit is essential before you can effectively change these perceptions. It can help you see through the white lies that you tell yourself that protect you from some home truths. To what extent,

Are You Maximizing Your Resistance to Change?

  • Do you maximize the upside of your unhealthy habit?
  • Do you maximize the downside of change?

Are You Minimizing Motivation to Change?

  • Do you minimize the downside of change?
  • Do you minimize the upside of change?

Do you avoid thinking about how you are wasting your health for short-term emotional gain? What would it take to invest in your health?

Step 2 - Lower your emotional resistance

Learn how to:

  • Minimize the upside of your unhealthy habit
  • Minimize the downside of change

Are you willing to move out of your comfort zone to experience ambivalence about change? This process creates emotional dis-ease. Will you invest the emotional energy to work through your ambivalence, rather than retreat from it? Are you willing to probe and explore your competing priorities, with the goal of creating a healthier future?

Step 3 - Increase your motivation

  • Maximize the downside of your unhealthy habit
  • Maximize the upside of change

Are you willing to substitute the benefits of your unhealthy habits with healthy alternatives? Do you want to wait until your experience the consequences of your unhealthy habits? Or are you willing to change before they occur? If you answered no and then yes to these two questions, what is preventing you from doing what you say?

Step 4 - Change your values

What do you value more than your health? Is there a difference between what you say you value and what you do? What can help you do what you say?

Rise to the Challenge

Making a plan for change is easy, but implementing it is the challenge.

Step 1 - Boost your confidence

Set small achievable goals to build and boost your confidence over time. Whatever you do, stop yourself (and others) from undermining your confidence. Don't allow yourself to be your own worst enemy. Your belief that positive change is possible can be your best friend.

Step 2 - Enhance your ability to change

How do you know whether you are under estimating or over estimating your ability to change? What are your past successes that you can draw that demonstrate your ability to change? Work on what you need to do that will increase your ability to change

Step 3 - Stay on track with your action plan

Use your strengths, past successes, and lessons learned to keep yourself on track with your action plan. Ask for support from others to help you get back on track when you stray off your course of action

Step 4 - Prevent backsliding to old ways

View relapses as learning opportunities, not as failures. You're not helping yourself if you beat yourself up with your failures. Use your so-called failures to prevent future relapses.

Use your new skills to change any other unhealthy habits and help others too.

To learn more about how to these steps, the Motivate Healthy Habits guidebook will provide learning exercise that will help you discover how you can progress toward your goals.


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