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Why Is It So Difficult To Change Behavior

The main reason why people find it so hard to change themselves: Their “truths” about themselves seldom match those of others seeking the change!

The most crucial aspect of perception is that it is entirely governed by our thoughts, based upon our physical experience of various situations. It means our subconscious mind is the key to formulating our perception.

It is a kind of slave which blindly obeys every command of the conscious mind because it cannot tell the difference between a real and an imagined experience. That is why, for example, we can easily get ourselves into an emotionally anxious state by thinking negative thoughts, by dwelling on bad experiences and telling ourselves how awful we are or how terrible the world is.

A guy I know is a virtual prisoner in his own home because he is affected by the increasing crime rate he hears about and sees only negative events around him. He hardly goes anywhere locally or mixes with people, which keeps him isolated and suspicious, making his environment appear even more negative and frightening. Instead, he keeps going back and forth from one country to another to make himself feel better, believing the problem is external when it is primarily inside his head.

Thus, our subconscious mind develops such negative perceptions, makes them “real” to us, and we begin to believe their reality. What’s more, we tend to place ourselves in situations and environments that confirm these realities and “truths” as we see them; seeking people who think, dress, behave and perceive the same way we do in order to confirm our perception.

Thus we are likely to feel distinctly uncomfortable and distrustful of those whom we perceive to have different realities to our own. That is the main reason why it is so difficult to convince someone of low esteem and negative perception that things might actually be different from how they view it. Until they share our perception, perhaps through perceived benefits, they will remain in their own created reality.

Seeking “Truth” Among Like Minded People

The far right parties like the BNP who promote racism are a case in point. As members are likely to stick to other members who perceive and believe in the same way, they will reject the perception of others which do not match their own. Since they have filtered out stimuli which flies in the face of their own reasoning, it is difficult to influence their narrow view of the world. The only thing that might change them is having to mix with others who are different, for example in the workplace, or if their livelihood depended upon them having another perspective.

That is also why conflict among partners in the home remains entrenched for ages. It is really most difficult to change personal perception, especially when someone does not want to see an alternative way of thinking, or to believe otherwise, because to do so would make them feel insecure and vulnerable. They would also lose face, have their firmly-held beliefs debunked or be deprived of the justification they need for reacting or behaving so negatively.

The one thing to recognize beyond a doubt is that perception is our reality. It is not a false way of seeing the world but the only viewpoint we have. If someone perceives them self to be a victim of a particular situation, it is their truth and must be accepted as such, and also addressed, until there is evidence to prove otherwise. There is nothing wrong with perception except its appropriateness. Not sharing any other person’s reality, we cannot tell someone else how to think by using our own yardstick of experience.

We can only offer our own perception of a situation and agree on a compromise, unless the other person is persuaded to ignore their own perception and accept ours instead, or there is firm evidence to the contrary.

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