Mapping Key Beliefs and Expectations

In general, people change their behavior by acquiring new reference experiences and cognitive maps in order to form a 'plan'. The same behavior, however, does not always produce the same outcome. Certain factors, such as the 'path' to the outcome, the degree of relational support one receives, the amount of variability of the system, and the tools one has available, will determine the probability that a certain behavior will obtain a desired outcome within that system.

Managing change and reaching outcomes involves having the cognitive maps, reference experiences, relational support and tools necessary to establish the most appropriate kinds of assumptions and expectations to have with respect to a particular goal, task or situation.

Our expectations, for instance, greatly influence the degree of confidence we will have about achieving a particular goal. The basic belief issues that arise in regard to reaching our outcomes come from expectations related to a number of fundamental components of change:

1. The desirability of the outcome.

2. Confidence that the specified actions will produce the outcome.

3. The evaluation of the appropriateness and difficulty of the behavior (regardless of whether it is believed that it will produce the desired result).

4. The belief that one is capable of producing the required behaviors necessary to complete the plan leading to the outcome.

5. The sense of responsibility, self worth and permission one has in relation to the required behaviors and outcome.

Belief Issues Related to Change

For example, consider someone who is attempting to become well, learn something new or be successful in a business project. Belief issues may arise with respect to any one of the elements of change identified above.

A first issue relates to the desirability of the outcome. How much does the person really want to be healthy, learn, or succeed? All things being equal, everyone no doubt wants all of these things. But it is rarely the case that all things are equal, and the fact is that health, learning or success may not always be at the top of a person's hierarchy of criteria. Someone might argue, "Health is not really a priority for me right now." "I have so many things demanding my attention, learning something new is not that important". "Other people need me. It would be selfish to be concerned with my own success."

Even if a person desires health, learning or success very highly, he or she may question whether it is possible to achieve them. A person might say, "It is not possible to get well no matter what I do." "Old dogs can't learn newT tricks." " I shouldn't build false hope about succeeding. There is nothing I can do that will make any difference."

A person may deeply desire an outcome and believe it is possible to achieve, but be in doubt as to whether a particular behavioral path is the most appropriate way to achieve the outcome. They might contend, "I believe it is possible to achieve my outcome, but not by using this (plan/technique/

program/etc.)" Others might think that a particular pathway is effective, but object to the efforts or sacrifices required by a particular path, or worry about the consequences it will have on other areas of their lives. A person may believe, for instance, that exercising or eating a better diet will help him or her become healthier, but not want to go through the hassle of changing his or her lifestyle. Others might believe that a particular course will help them to learn something important, but not feel that they have the time to do it. Similarly, a person may believe that a new job may lead to success, but be concerned about the impact it would have on his or her family.

It is also possible that people can desire the outcome, think it is possible, and believe that the proposed behavioral path is appropriate to achieve the result, yet doubt their abilities to perform the required actions. They might think, "I am not (skilled/consistent/intelligent/focused/etc.) enough to successfully do what I have to do in order to complete the path necessary to reach my desired outcome."

Even when people want an outcome, trust that it is possible, believe in the actions that have been defined in order to reach that outcome, and have confidence in their own abilities to perform the necessary skills and actions, they may question whether it is their responsibility to perform the required actions or reach the outcome. A person may complain, "It is not my responsibility to make myself healthy, learn or become successful. That is the job of the experts. I want to be able to rely on someone else." People may also doubt whether they deserve to be healthy, to learn or to succeed. This is an issue of self esteem. Sometimes people feel unworthy of health, intelligence or success. If a person does not believe that he or she deserves to reach a goal or is responsible to do what needs to be done in order to achieve it, then it doesn't matter if he or she is capable, knows the appropriate path or desires it.

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