I know I shouldn’t be doing this!
And why don’t you do the right thing?
It is difficult for us to change destructive behaviours, even though we know what would be right. You certainly know this from your own experience. As a result, we knowingly do the wrong thing, although we know the negative consequences and, thus, the costs.
Knowledge alone has only a very manageable effect on our behaviour. Research and experience have shown that information must be associated with feelings that are desirable to us to change behaviour.
We must clearly see, feel, and taste the expected emotional gains. This is especially true when the consequences of an action occur later, hours, days, or years later.
When I was a child, I was told I would learn for life. There was nothing wrong with that information, except for the fact that it simply didn’t affect me at the time. Besides, it had no emotional value.
Here’s the counter-example: „Do your schoolwork quickly, then you can play all afternoon!“ To be able to play for a whole afternoon, this information has a positive emotional value, and its realizability is in visible proximity.
But what do I do now if the emotional gain of a „misbehaviour“ is desirable, visible, and easily attainable, and thus parting with that behaviour would involve an emotional loss? Or if the gain from an alternative behaviour, which would undoubtedly be more correct, can only be expected somewhere in the future?
At the beginning of every coaching session, this question is addressed. What basic need will it be satisfied by the behaviour that the coachee wants to change? So what would be missing if the coachee succeeds in developing the way he wants to? A constructive way must then be found to satisfy this basic need.
Otherwise, the goal set by the coachee will be missed.
It is the same with the factual situation in which we find ourselves in our society and at present. For Homo sapiens to survive as a species, we must quickly come to grips with the climate catastrophe and the loss of species. The fact that we know everything about the situation will not lead to any significant change in behaviour, as the experience of our days also shows.
Instead, we need to name the emotional gains that each and every one of us can expect if we say goodbye to cherished habits and adapt our behaviour to the necessities of the situation.
For me, this is a world in which we and our children and our children’s children work creatively together for the well-being of all in peace in a green landscape with clean water and clean air. With Humberto Maturana, I believe in the possibility of homo-sapiens amans.