Friday 23 February 2018

Sticking with your New Year resolutions

AS we sail into the second month of the year, many of you will be three weeks on in your endeavours to achieve New Year goals and resolutions.

I have no doubt that this task has been tough and challenging as the familiar inner voice of self-doubt has begun to make itself known! Some of you may already have given up or feel like giving up as negativity and complaining overtake positivity and motivation.

As a race we seem to have become obsessed with instant gratification. It would seem that most people want A without having to do B and find themselves caught up in self- pity and whining when they realize that we will need to give up short term pleasures for other significant gains.

In my experience of cognitive behavioural coaching at the heart of this occurrence is low frustration tolerance. In a nutshell low frustration tolerance, also known as 'I can't stand it - itis', is our intolerance for discomfort, difficulties, frustrations and painful emotions.

Essentially it is a term used to describe a situation where people 'think' they cannot tolerate or put up with something in particular. The reality is that people can stand just about anything if they just stay there.

The problem with that type of faulty thinking is that they typically act on impulse as they find it too distressing to deal with delayed gratification especially as the discomfort is immediate and the benefits distant.

When people hold low frustration beliefs they fundamentally believe that they would lose all possibility of experiencing happiness if the frustration or the discomfort continues or that they would fall apart in some way or that life will never be the same again and that would be awful. They also use language that worsens their misery by exaggerating the situation.

For example many people resolve each New Year to lose weight or get fit or stop smoking. However they fail because they either find aspects too hard, too difficult, too distressing etc and that this 'must' or 'should' not be. 'I can't tolerate this' 'It's too much' 'I can't live without it', are statements I frequently hear.

In most cases these individuals are unconsciously striving for ease and comfort because they believe that they will not be able to stand the emotional pain or perceived deprivation associated with achieving their goals. They doubt in their ability to put up with this discomfort which is further reinforced if they have tried to overcome a similar challenge in the past and had little success. A self-fulfilling prophecy that I call 'The Groundhog Day Complex'.

Frustration tolerance exists on a continuum from low to high and for which most of us fluctuate between the two extremes. Boosting frustration tolerance involves hard headed decisions on what you want to accomplish and it involves changing your habit of impulse through thought reframing and purposeful action. Once increased you will be amazed by the positive transformation that your life will take!


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