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 doesn’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 critic kicks in and they persecute themselves 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 want and don’t like takes so much emotional energy. In the attempt to temporarily control the unwanted habit, chances are great that, only a short time later, you will very likely have returned to the same old habit.
Planning ahead for situations that are likely to 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 rather than telling yourself, “I will never do …. (blank) again.”
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. The habit you want to change is to stop being overly blunt (some might say rude) to co-workers when they interrupt you as you try 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 the times I am available later and tell them I welcome their questions at that time.”
Your 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 threat occurs.
Deciding exactly in what situation you will act differently—the “if”—elicits the new behavior that you have planned ahead that you will act upon—the “then”. The if-then solution taps into your Creator’s natural way of responding with intention and care.
When you notice you are interrupted, on cue, as a Creator, you 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, the “if-then plan” frees your energy to create and requires 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 new and empowering behaviors with less willpower and more ease.