Practice cognitive restructuring.
One tool therapists use in cognitive-behavioral psychology to help their clients shift their perspective is cognitive restructuring. This involves identifying how and when your thoughts go from happy to sad, explains psychologist Yvonne Thomas, PhD, and then reframing those thoughts.
So, for example, say your goal is to incorporate more vegetables and whole grains into your diet. You find this easy and fun for a few weeks—then you get a craving for pizza and decide to order takeout. Rather than accepting that you’re human, and sometimes you’ll eat cheesy, topping-piled slices and sometimes you’ll prefer a salad, you engage in “all-or-nothing” behavior (“I’ll clearly never be able to choose the healthiest option all the time, so there’s no point trying anymore”). So you give up on the goal entirely. This is a common habit, but isn’t healthy or helpful.
Once you isolate exactly when you’ve hit that discouraged, all-or-nothing mindset, the second part of cognitive restructuring comes: attempting to change these thoughts into more realistic ones. Sticking with the above example, this might look like, “I really enjoyed pizza last night and I’m looking forward to my nutritious oatmeal and fruit in the morning,” instead of, “I’ve failed at my resolution and I’ll never succeed.” It sounds trite, but life really is about balance (no one can eat steamed veggies for dinner all the time).
“If you can alter your thinking to be healthier, there’s a greater likelihood of staying motivated and committed,” Thomas explains. “You can consciously convert the thoughts to a more middle-ground perspective, so you remain logical versus emotionally fired-up, which can interfere with motivation to stick with goals.”
Los Angeles Therapist Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D. Interviewed For “8 Psychology-Based Tricks For Staying Motivated And Accomplishing Your Goals.” Visit realsimple.com to read the full article.