Ask Dr. Brilliant Cliche and the Granny Doctor: It Just Takes Patience

resolveDear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

I am so sick of the hypocrisy! Every New Year’s Eve, I listen to people babble incoherently about all the great resolutions they are starting tomorrow.

Tomorrow comes and some of them manage to actually make it one day. I’ve seen them go as long as a month. Then — boom! That’s it. I start hearing excuses and elaborate explanations as to why the one slip meant nothing. Before you know it, they get to the point where they don’t even bother with the excuses anymore. If I ask what happened to the resolution, they just say, “Oh, shut up.”

Why do people even bother with this BS? It’s obvious that nobody can just do it.

Betty Brown

Dear Betty,

Recent evidence has shown that for the most part, humans don’t pay much attention to their lives. They operate largely on autopilot. Habits and ritual are what define who we are. Occasionally, we may stop and take a look at ourselves. New Year’s Eve is one of these times. We access what we would like to change, we make resolutions … we pay attention for a while. Then we revert back to auto pilot and do what we were doing before.

Permanent change is possible, but studies show it requires conscious attention for two to seven years to install a new behavior into our automatic processes. Most people give it a month. If they don’t see results by then, they say have given it their all and quit. Advertising is brilliant because it can capture our attention with a true issue but at the same time manipulate us with false expectations of quick results.

So, yes — you can just do it; but you have do it every moment of every day for the next 7 years. I have noticed it gets easier after about 5 months, but it’s by no means automatic at that point. Any stress can cause a person to revert to old behaviors before that waiting period is up. It takes about 10,000 hours of

practice before a new behavior truly becomes part of us.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: New Year’s Eve is when everyone makes resolutions because that’s when EVERYONE is making resolutions. The communal support is there. Advertisers even change the concentration of commercials on TV. During the holidays, you get continuous messages to indulge and splurge, along with voluminous offers for antidepressants. But after the holidays, the fitness clubs, nicotine gum and Slim

Fast sales pitches skyrocket.

There’s nothing wrong with that wistful yearning for change. The problem is that when people anticipate change, as with New Year’s, they usually allow themselves to be extra indulgent before they quit. This is why the whole idea of resolutions, in the hands of idiots, can actually be dangerous.

Real change takes time. If you are going to try to alter a habit of a lifetime, I do not suggest that you ever try to “just quit.” A much better idea is to replace the old habit with a new one. Practicing the new habit gives you something to do while you are going nuts over withdrawal from the old one.

Reprinted with permission from Dr. Brilliant Cliche: drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com; Facebook: facebook.com/drbrilliantcliche?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

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