Robert E. Reichlin, Ph.D.

Houston Psychologist ∙ Psychotherapist ∙ Geropsychologist ∙Bellaire, Texas

Changing Behavior

Thursday, June 11th 2009

Why is changing behavior so difficult? One would think that recognizing the logic of changing one’s behavior when necessary would be sufficient. But, it’s not. Not even consequences that are painful make change any easier.

The Spanish philosopher, George Santayana, is famous for his aphorism, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” However, he has another that speaks directly to the issue, “Repetition is the only form of permanence that nature can achieve.” I interpret this quotation as follows: life is inherently conservative. We do not make changes quickly because it would be dangerous to do so. Why? We seem to perceive change as destabilizing our sense of permanence, of security. So, we do the same thing over and over again, thinking that through repetition we gain that security. The irony of this choice (one that is rarely conscious) is that this assumption (that repetition provides security) often leads to a marked decrease in our ability to respond to our world in creative and more adaptive ways. We see only what we want to see, remaining within the illusion of safety. Learning about oneself and one’s impact on others becomes less important than maintaining the status quo. More about this later.

Thank you for reading this post.

If you find that my perspective on changing behavior makes sense to you, and you are considering psychotherapy, send me an email or give me a call and we can schedule an appointment.

Contact Houston Psychologist Dr. Robert Reichlin at 281-813-7202;

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Robert E. Reichlin, Ph.D.