Have you ever decided that you will get moving and get fit? You’ll know that choosing to rise to this challenge isn’t easy if you have. There are things to think about. You might need to buy some new trainers, move the clothes off that treadmill, or even join a new gym. But you think to yourself, it’s OK, how hard can it be? You’ve got the skills you need to walk, and you might even break into a run if you’re feeling fancy. You’ve got this. Right?
Not necessarily. This is because the skills required to walk or lift weights are not the same skills you’ll need to get yourself moving! And let’s be realistic, when we’ve got a new series to binge on Netflix or a night out with friends, suddenly having the required skills to complete a task simply isn’t enough to get you going. This is where we need to practice the skill of commitment.
It might sound a bit odd to think of commitment as a skill. Especially if we’ve heard others such as teachers, parents, or friends suggest we ‘obviously aren’t committed’ as if it’s something we just failed to pick up somewhere along the way.
But the great news is that commitment isn’t a tangible thing that you either have or don’t have. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) teaches us that commitment is built on a collection of thoughts, emotions, and behaviours that are all influenced by the context we find ourselves in. That being the case, we can expect the feeling to ebb and flow as life happens.
If we think about it, we are always committed to something. For example, you may want to run a marathon but don’t have the time to train because of your commitment to spending time with your children. Or perhaps, you know you’d be better off if you got that work assignment done but you are currently committed to spending time catching up with friends as you didn’t see them through lockdown. Whatever we decide to do, there will always be a good reason we choose to be committed to one course of action over another. So, the question is rarely as simple as ‘am I committed?’ A better question might be ‘is what I’m committed to effective and helping me to meet my goals?’
A handy skill that can help us decide what we want to commit to is weighing up the ‘Pros and Cons’ of our choices. In DBT we often find it useful to begin with the ‘pros of the cons’ as we become curious about the benefits of being committed to a particular behaviour that, on the surface, seems to be causing us a problem. This might be excessive drinking, spending, drug-taking or other risky self-harm behaviours. Why? Because once we know how a problem behaviour benefits us, it becomes clear that it is often actually a ‘problem solution’. For example, the behaviour may be giving us immediate relief from difficult feelings or allowing us to escape our reality for a while.
From this position of acceptance and understanding, it is possible to explore if there is the motivation and willingness to look at the ‘pros’ around committing to change.
At Rutland House, we believe everyone can benefit from enhancing their skills and finding new and fresh way to look at the challenges they face. It is from this position we have the freedom to decide how we would like to move forward with our goals and build the life we want to live.
So, what will you commit to today?