How to Avoid Repeating the Same Mistakes Over and Over Again

From Darlene Root…

Human behavior and self-improvement have always been interesting subjects to me. I have always been fascinated by “what makes people tick.” As a mentor, I have had students who get so caught up in why something won’t work, and they spiral down thinking things like: “I have always been this way,” “It’s just a bad habit that I can’t break,” or “Every time I try to do something I sabotage it.”

Habits are created over time, and oftentimes, they are instilled and repeated without anyone knowing the origin or the behavior. Worse yet, most people follow the behaviors of others blindly, which will reinforce and maintain their limiting belief.

The 5 Monkeys Experiment

An experimenter puts 5 monkeys in a large cage. High up at the top of the cage, well beyond the reach of the monkeys, is a bunch of bananas. Underneath the bananas is a ladder.

The monkeys immediately spot the bananas and one begins to climb the ladder. As he does, however, the experimenter sprays him with a stream of cold water. Then, he proceeds to spray each of the other monkeys.

The monkey on the ladder scrambles off. And all 5 sit for a time on the floor, wet, cold and bewildered. Soon, though, the temptation of the bananas is too great, and another monkey begins to climb the ladder. Again, the experimenter sprays the ambitious monkey and all the other monkeys as well with cold water. When a third monkey tries to climb the ladder, the other monkeys, wanting to avoid the cold spray, pull him off the ladder and smack him around.

Now, one monkey is removed and a new monkey is introduced to the cage. Spotting the bananas, he naively begins to climb the ladder. The other monkeys pull him off and smack him around.

Here’s where it gets interesting…

The experimenter removes a second one of the original monkeys from the cage and replaces him with a new monkey. Again, the new monkey begins to climb the ladder and, again, the other monkeys pull him off and smack him around – including the monkey who had never been sprayed.

By the end of the experiment, none of the original monkeys were left and yet, despite none of them ever experiencing the cold, wet spray, they had all learned never to try and go for the bananas.

Changing those old behaviors can be difficult and take time. However, it is possible with some proper planning and by staying positive while you work toward you goal of avoiding making the same mistakes.

Stages of Change

Contemplate the change you want to make.

The first stage of making any change to a behavior is to think carefully about those changes you are about to make. Think about the benefits of your changes and any difficulties that may present themselves.

Make a detailed list of the benefits and positive aspects that your new behavior will bring. Carefully list out any difficulties that you can think of. These might be things that cause you to return to your old behavior or prevent you from making your new behaviors habit. For example, increasing exercise can make you healthier, but a lack of time might stand in your way.

Discover what triggers your behavior.

Examine what situations or events might be causing you to make the same mistakes or engage in the same unwanted behaviors. There are reasons behind the behavior you want to change. Once you find those reasons, you will be able to both change your response to that situation as well as avoid it in the future.

Find something to replace old behaviors with.

When your goal is to stop repeating a certain behavior, you will need to replace that old behavior with a new one. Without implementing a new behavior, you are more likely to return to your original unwanted one.

Write your goals down.

After you have thought about which behaviors you want to end and what you will replace them with, it can be useful to write them down. This will serve as a reminder of what you want to accomplish… and because you write it, you can check it any time.

Try putting your written goals in a place you can see them often and with ease. For example, keep them posted at your work place or set a reminder on your phone.

Remember to be patient as you work toward your goals and don’t let setbacks stop you from moving forward.

Have You Changed Your Behavior?

How did you get out of a bad habit and what new behavior did you replace it with? We’d love to about it below.

P.S. Need a Mentor?