Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Why Do We Make Decisions Against Our Own Interests?

We all make decisions every day. A lot of them we may not even think about, because we don’t see more than one option. But ask yourself, how many times do you avoid making decisions that will actually improve your life? Not just the big stuff like going back to school to get a better degree, or trying to open your own business, but smaller stuff like what you eat, whether you spend the evening on the couch instead of going to the gym, or if you decide to go out with friends instead of saving money.

But why do we make decisions that aren’t going to improve our lives? Well, there are some common factors we all have to deal with.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Why Do We Make Decisions Against Our Own Interests?

#1: Comfort

Humans are creatures of comfort, and routine. Changing up something we’re used to, even if it’s something we admit is bad, causes stress. It’s just easier to do what we’re familiar with. It’s why, even though you know you should go to the gym, you just want to sit on the couch, and watch your show.

If you want to overcome comfort, then you need to establish a new routine. Typically a month of doing something regularly sets it in place, and makes the new activity your routine. So not doing it will lead to the discomfort that doing it once did. The more used to being uncomfortable you become, the easier it is to make good decisions.

#2: Fear

Making decisions can be scary. Whether it’s taking a new job, striking out on your own, or just moving somewhere can all be things that would be good for you, but it’s just easier to stay where you are, doing what you’re doing now.

The best way to overcome fear is through rationality. For instance, if you’re scared that you’ll alienate your co-workers by taking a promotion, talk to them. Ask for their input, and get their opinions. By getting more information, you can undermine the hold fear has on you, and make the decision less scary. Especially if you can reduce it to hard numbers that show, objectively, what is better for you.

#3: Not Being Honest With Ourselves

Too often we say we want something, when we really mean it would be nice if we could have something without doing the work of getting it. For instance, do you really want 6-pack abs? Enough to add the necessary workout routine to your life, and to change your eating habits? Or would it just be nice if you could take a pill that would give you a Hollywood physique with no real sweat?

It’s important to be honest with yourself about what you really want, because only then can you set goals you will actually care about, and try to move toward. If you keep saying you’re going to become a computer programmer, but you’d much rather be a painter or a writer, dispense with the subterfuge. You can’t move forward until you know where you’re trying to get to.

For more information about cognitive behavioral therapy, and how it can help you, simply contact us today at Stonebriar Counseling Associates!

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