Imagine that there was a pill that if taken daily would keep you healthy and slim. In addition this pill would allow you to live to 100 years old all the time experiencing a good quality of life. Would you take the pill? The answer for most would be… Yeah. Why not?
But here’s the catch. If you choose to take the pill you can never see your family again. Would you still take the pill? The answer for most or at least for a lot of people would be… No way!
So what does this tell us?
It tells us that despite knowing something is good for us, for example eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise, there are always other things (barriers) that get in the way of doing them. Furthermore these barriers will often be valid and of significant importance in their own right for example, family, social life and money.
So what do we do?
Firstly we must assess whether or not the barriers are valid. Are they importance to us or significant in some way? Or are they things we just do because we’re in the habit of doing them? Determining the validity of barriers will inform us as to whether or not we need to work with or alongside the barrier or whether we need to work over the barrier. By doing this we can then start to raise the importance of our healthy initiative while maintaining or decreasing the importance of the barrier.
For example think back to the ‘family vs. the pill’ situation. For most family as a barrier would come under the working with category in that we don’t want to minimise the importance and significance of family but we still want to make a change. Therefore we need to initiate a change plan that allows us to work alongside family commitments. Without going into this too much an obvious way to work with this situation would be to incorporate healthy eating and exercise into the time already spent with family.
In the case of something like time or money as a barrier we can often determine they aren’t that valid and therefore attempt to work over them. For example when considering time as a barrier we could attempt to minimise the importance of time spent watching TV so we can make way for a new change behaviour like exercise. Likewise when considering money we may want to minimise the importance of spending money on things we don’t really need. For example we could reduce the money we spend on clothes, coffee, or weekend drinks to free up some money for the gym, exercise equipment or a trainer.
There will always be barriers but the question we must all ask ourselves is “are they valid?” If barriers are valid then consider how to work with them and if not consider how to work over them.