Reality Check: From Self-Evaluation to Change

Self-evaluation, in the choice theory perspective, is that important step when we look at what we do and make a judgment about it. The word “judgment” often carries a negative connotation; however, judgment is helpful when you use it to assess your own behaviour.

It’s when you self-evaluate that you decide, for yourself, whether your behaviour is working for you. Is what you are doing moving you closer to the life you want?

I’d mentioned Elise and her key-losing tendencies in an earlier column. As a concerned friend, you might want to help Elise. Perhaps she just needs to learn some skills.

While we can’t change someone else’s behavior, we can provide tips. After all, providing information is the bread and butter of advisors from life coaches to anti-clutter consultants. People hire and pay for their advice; you’re offering it for free!

What if Elise doesn’t respond to your helpful input? Then, for the sake of your friendship, resist the urge to nag her into taking your advice.

Elise may tell you, over and over, “I need to change.” However, it’s not what folks say, but rather what they do, that tells their story. When the same behaviours continue—Elise’s keys keep magically misplacing themselves—that’s a powerful indicator.

Does Elise really want to change her behaviour?  If she self-evaluates and finds that the frustration she puts herself through is not worth the benefit, then maybe so.

Benefit? What possible benefit could there be to habitually misplacing keys? If all our behaviour is purposeful, then there must be some benefit involved, either real or perceived.

So, what benefits might Elise perceive? Well, effort is required to keep track of anything, including keys. To change her behaviour, Elise would have to decide where the keys belong, and then choose to put them there, every time. If she perceives herself as a free spirit, then the rigidity of any routine is stifling. Does the pain of feeling stifled outweigh the pain of feeling keyless? That’s for Elsie’s self-evaluation.

In addition, Elsie has derived an identity of sorts from her habit, which provides fodder for conversations and humour, even if it is at her expense. It even works as a defense mechanism: when Elise is teased about losing her keys, she’s not being picked on for anything else.

Finally, because everyone knows that Elsie can’t be counted on, expectations for her remain low. No one expects her to show up on time, and she’s never trusted with anything truly important. For Elise, this is a very effective method of avoiding being burdened with responsibility.

If Elise self-evaluates her actions, she may make a judgment that the balance has shifted—the inconvenience of losing her keys no longer outweighs the benefits. It’s then that she is likely to be motivated to make a change. It’s doubtful that anyone else, no matter how much they wish to help, can create that motivation for Elise.

Have you, like Elise, ever had an aggravating habit that you just couldn’t shake? Can you think of any hidden benefits that motivated you to keep the habit?

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