Coming into spring, it is all too common to spring clean your room, your house, your garden, your wardrobe etc. But have you ever considered spring cleaning your own behaviour patterns?

If we are honest, we are all using behaviours we would prefer not to, whether that be:

  • Yelling at the kids
  • Indulging in food, drink, shopping or other temptations
  • Not exercising the way that would support our body
  • Over working or underworking
  • Speak to others in a way we later regret
  • Going to bed too late

The list of possible examples is endless however, needless to say, we all have, are, or will use behaviours we would prefer not to – our unwanted behaviours. Some may have even said “I’m going to stop these”. With all good intention we commit to changing this pattern, however before we know it we are back repeating the same pattern that not that long ago we said “I will never do again”.

As a behaviour specialist, the question I ask is, ‘Why do we keep using the behaviours and patterns we say we are going to stop?’. At Fabic, we understand that the ‘why’ of the behaviour is far greater than the ‘how’ of behaviour pattern. We are not interested in ‘what the behaviour looks like’, rather we are interested in the reason why the patterns are actually occurring. Further to this, at Fabic we understand that unless we address the root cause of the unwanted behaviour occurring in the first place, when we attempt to change behaviour there will be one of two outcomes. We will either resume the old unwanted pattern we had committed to changing, or we replace our old unwanted behaviour pattern by beginning an another unwanted pattern in response to the original root cause.

Either way, the pattern has not changed as the original root cause of the behaviour pattern remains. So how do we change our behaviour patterns for good? Simple… We address the original root cause of the pattern. And how do we do this? Simply by becoming a science experiment of our self, our unwanted own behaviour patterns and being willing to ask my favourite question, ‘I wonder why?’.

1. I wonder why I am using these unwanted behaviours, words, thoughts or feelings?

2. I wonder what part of life happens before I use or experience these unwanted patterns?

3. I wonder part of life I am anticipating I may find challenging, uncomfortable or unwanted prior to me using these ill patterns?

For example, many people have committed to stop smoking, which they may or may not succeed with. From my experience, many people who do stop smoking begin a new pattern of ‘eating’ – whether that be eating lollies, cakes, food of any sort. On the surface level, for some the smoking may have stopped – however another ill pattern has now replaced it. Why? Because we have not addressed the reason why the smoking pattern was being used in the first place. For example, many people smoke when they feel sad, anxious, angry or generally don’t feel connected to themselves. Thus to heal the root cause completely, we must address the sadness, anxiety, anger and lack of connection. Should this root cause be addressed in full, then not only would the smoking stop completely, but no other pattern would be used as its replacement. Thus, to spring clean our own behaviour and ensure the pattern (or replacement) is never to return, we must address the reason why? Asking ‘I wonder why?’ and addressing the reason why allows the unwanted patterns to be ceased completely.

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Tanya Curtis

Tanya Curtis  

Tanya founded Fabic (Functional Assessment & Behavioural Interventions Clinic) in 2006 with a vision to support people to understand and change unwanted behaviours. Tanya is an author, writes and presents behaviour specialist DVDs, and has developed online behaviour support programs // www.fabic.com.au