Why Great Self Help Tools Still Fail Us

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Four weeks ago I started therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. For much of my life, I struggled with sleep issues. In my 20’s I could power through it. Now in my 40’s, a bad night of sleep ruins my day.

After a few weeks of therapy I began to notice progress. But here’s where it gets interesting.

After seeing progress, I began to question the value of seeing the therapist.

“Hmm. This is pretty simple. Why do I need a therapist to instruct me? I could follow instructions from a book for a lot less time and money.”

I continued to go to my sessions. The results were good. Why mess with a good thing?

After a month, it was time for me to fly solo for a while.

…And Then It Stopped Working

The first week on my own I went back to my old habits.

I went to bed at different times. I stayed in bed late. Worst of all, I neglected the time in bed guidelines (time spent in bed when you can’t sleep).

My sleep quality suffered because of my failure to comply with instructions.

Seeing a therapist gave me one crucial benefit. It’s something a book cannot duplicate.

Accountability

Knowing I had to chart my results and report my progress forced me to stick to the regimen.

That’s what’s missing from books and most online courses. The information might be good, even great, but sticking to a regimen challenges our desire to avoid change.

Books and courses may motivate us. They inspire us. But they suffer from the same shortcoming.

Motivation fades.

It’s why I refuse to attend seminars. Everyone leaves feeling stoked. You look forward to the changes you’re about to embark on. By the time you get to your car, the motivation fades. The next day you’re back to worrying about the usual day to day issues.

It’s easy to stick to pleasurable changes. Painful change takes effort. Accountability to someone else serves as the extra bit of motivation to get us across the finish line.

There’s a pain involved in telling your therapist, coach or whoever that you failed to stick to your commitment. Think of it as a simple formula.

If (Pain of breaking commitment > Pain of making change) Then (Change Likely)

Paying a therapist or coach isn’t always possible. An accountability partner going through the same change as you can bring similar results.

Written by

Experimenter in life, productivity, and creativity. Work in Forge | Elemental | Business Insider | GMP | Contact: barry@barry-davret dot com.

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