A carrot will always change behaviour more effectively than a stick.
When you’re trying to make a change in your life it’s important to have the right reasons for that change. Too often we give ourselves a hard time about the way we are. We believe this will encourage us to become the way we want to be.
But does that really work? Is it really helpful to beat ourselves with the stick of negative self-criticism? Or would it be more effective if we were to look for the carrot, find a positive reason to make a change?
If you want to change something, you’ve probably already worked out that there’s something not right. You really don’t need that nasty inner voice to start telling you exactly where it thinks you’ve been going wrong. So whatever it is that’s not quite the way you’d like it to be, find a positive reason to change it.
Maybe you’re carrying a few extra pounds. The negative voice in your head might be saying, “You’re too fat. You’re ugly. Nobody wants to be around someone like you.” You can turn that around to, “I’ll look and feel a lot better without this excess weight. And if I feel better about myself I’ll be more attractive to other people.”
Perhaps you tend to procrastinate, putting everything off to the last minute. You don’t need to listen to the voice that says, “You’re so lazy. You wouldn’t do anything if you didn’t have to.” Instead, you can tell yourself, “My life will run so much more smoothly if I just get around to dealing with things in plenty of time.”
Or if you think you should be exercising more, don’t call yourself a lazy couch potato. Instead, think about how much healthier you’ll feel if you get out and get active.
If you suffer from low self-esteem, the last thing you need in your life is a big stick pushing you on. Look for the carrot instead, and head towards positive reasons for change.