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Behavior Modification Steps, Traps and PBJAM - I

Updated: Aug 3, 2021

#TLDR: #PBJAM enables 6-step #virtuous circle of behavior strengthening


Human behavior has been an area of interest for a long time for obvious importance to human interactions and personal/group progress/benefits. In recent times, Ivan Pavlov, Edward Thorndike, B F Skinner and John Watson have actively researched scientific principles of behavior modification. Here is #PBJAM view of steps in behavior modification. It is a reference than a definition!

It starts from the status where one is not aware of the need to modify the behavior. Normally, there is some trigger (either intentional or unintentional, internal or external) that creates awareness in your mind of such need.


For example, I have a tendency to check my phone first thing every morning. Then, one morning, my phone battery died and hence, I didn't check my phone for an hour or so. In that hour, while doing my morning chores I had a clean slate of mind to think about my day, my priorities and some reflection. I found this to be very rewarding and I became aware of the need because of the rewarding experience (Step 1).


So, I decided to modify my behavior of "checking phone first thing every morning" to "avoid phone for at least 5 days of the week for first morning hour" (Step 2). As you can see, the trigger for me was unintentional (I didn't plan for the situation to arise where I won't have access to phone for an hour) and internal (Behavior of checking phone is my own and does not involve others nor impacts others).


I didn't have any structure (for example, a buddy to hold me accountable, template to track my compliance, measures to show me how well/bad am I doing) to help me with my desire to change, so I tried it on my own for a few days and put a sticky note on Fridge to mark days when I was able to not check phone for the first hour. I tracked days and amount of time I was able to stay away from the phone. This was my structure (Step 3).


As I was marking my sticky note, I felt good to see my compliance for a few days, I felt bad when I could not avoid picking up phone and the regular visibility without being overpowering helped me to stay motivated (Step 4).


After about a month or so, I was able to achieve ~60% compliance (say, 4 days out of the week) and this kept me on path to monitor more and reflect more (I was trying to find out reasons why I couldn't keep my hands off the phone and also, upsides of not touching phone for the first morning hour) (Step 5).


As I kept my sticky note system active and started to jot down reasons for non-compliance as well as rewards for compliance, my mind asked the next question, "What more can I do"? (Step 6).


This brought me full circle back to exploring the unaware areas in my behaviors.

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