People generally have good intentions but often fail to act on what they say they really want. That aligns with what we hear in our Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)™ workshops.
When participants learn about the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™ and the more resourceful TED* framework, they want to immediately end the drama in their life. After a while they realize that learning about the ideas don’t guarantee they will immediately stop their old and unwanted behavior.
Most people think they need more willpower and discipline to “fix themselves.” When willpower and discipline don’t work, their inner Persecutor kicks in for not following through.
Research is showing that planning not to do something tends to encourage failure. The reason is that exerting a strong will can exhaust you and wear down your self-control mechanism. Focusing on what you don’t like takes so much brain energy to try and temporarily control the unwanted habit. As a result, a short time later you very likely have returned to the same old habit.
Planning ahead, in a positive way, for situations that will likely trigger your drama, increases the chance you will choose a more positive response to life’s challenges. The trick is to plan ahead in a way that helps you create the new habit you really want.
We like the “if-then” solution as a way to support what you want to create.
Psychologist Peter Gollwitzer first articulated the approach and his research has shown that people are 2 to 3 times more likely to succeed if they use the if-then plan.
Here’s an example of how it works: Imagine that you are feeling pressure from a project deadline. You want to stop being rude to co-workers when they interrupt you as you are trying to complete your work.
By applying the “if-then” solution you plan ahead, knowing that you may be interrupted, and affirm how you want to respond. In this case it might sound like: “If co-workers interrupt me, I will share when I am available later that day and tell them I welcome their questions at that time.”
You brain is very good at connecting information through the “If X, then Y” formula because it looks for danger (X) and has a back-up plan (Y) if the danger occurs.
Deciding exactly when and where you will act on your new behavior— the if— elicits the new behavior that you have planned ahead that will follow—the then. The if-then solution taps into your brain’s natural way of responding.
When you notice you are interrupted, on cue, your brain will more likely follow through on your pre-determined behavior. You don’t have to consciously monitor your desired outcome, which means your plans get carried out even when you are preoccupied. Such an approach anchors you in a Creator Orientation in which you have established a “vision” of how you choose to respond when the “if” occurs.
By anticipating situations and directing behavior without conscious effort, if-then plans free your energy to create and require less taxing willpower.
All of our TED* exercises are geared toward making sustainable behavior changes that liberate you from drama-oriented habits that get in the way of being the person you want to be.
Do you really want to develop new and more empowering habits? If so, try the “If-then” solution. We believe you will create many new and empowering behaviors with less willpower and more ease.