Overcoming the hurdles of behavior change

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Reaching self-actualization is a long-term process that happens over decades. As human beings, we intersect with a number of factors, including other people, who shape and mold us. Sometimes we grow by leaps and bounds, and on the other hand, sometimes we get hung up on emotional roadblocks that prevent true behavior change.

These roadblocks are the hurdles we have to navigate to accomplish behavior change. When trying to change a behavior, obstacles to true change relate to our psychosocial response to the world. Our environment also plays an integral role in affecting, and in some cases, conditioning us to respond to other people and situations, either appropriately or inappropriately. However, to affect change in our behavior, we have to address the emotional and environmental factors that influence us.

Continue reading to learn how you can overcome the hurdles to behavior change and move closer to your goals.

Fear Failure Or Change

Fear of failure and change are both major reasons that people do not even attempt changing. Not wanting to change behaviors because of these fears can stem from the fact people find the process too intimidating, difficult, or impossible to attempt. As opposed to seeing change as a progression from A to B to C to D, most who do not attempt to address a behavior see the process as going from A to D, which can seem like a very big step.

For example, let’s say a person has a retail therapy problem they want to curb voluntarily. As opposed to moving from shopping sprees to not shopping at all, the person should gradually reduce the amount of money they spend weekly until they reach their goal of purchasing a few items a week. In the process, we make mistakes and regress but active change takes consistent effort. However, for someone who sees change as impossible because they cannot see the progression, this can be an emotional obstacle.

Ingrained Habits

One of the worst impediments to change is when the behavior we want to change has become a habit. Habits can run the range of serious addictions to minor annoyances. Habits are also rooted in our emotions, and in many cases, we are not aware of the behavior until something happens to us that really affects our existence. With awareness, though, even the most aggravating habit can be the foundation to transition into new behaviors.

Past Events

Everything and anything that we are at this moment is the culmination of all of the events in our lives. During the transition between the past and present, we encounter both positive and negative experiences that contribute to our emotional baggage. These events shape our attitudes and behaviors, and for better or worse, define who we are. For these reasons, getting over the hump of a belief system that has been established since the beginning of life can be a serious hurdle to personal development but with counseling can be accomplished.


Of the few external factors that affect change in the individual, the environment is one of the biggest roadblocks to behavior change. The places we go, where we live and work, and who we hang out with all have a great impact on our behavior. If trying to drastically change behaviors that are negative, surrounding yourself with people who still engage in these behaviors can interfere with change simply because, whether we like it or not, we are influenced by others.

Making Progress Toward Change

With behaviors rooted in fears or habits, change can occur simply by taking smaller steps toward the larger goal. To curb environmental factors, exchange environmental factors or lessen them to the degree that they do not overwhelmingly influence the person to affect behavior change. Ultimately, addressing the emotional baggage that really can affect our attitude about change can get us to recognize and address negative behaviors to move us toward the goal of adopting a new behavior.

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