Bridging The Intention – Behaviour Gap

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In our daily lives, we see an intention-behaviour gap. How many times have we thought to ourselves, “This element of my behavior has to end, it’s simply not working for me,” with the best of intentions? Then we succumb to old patterns, despite having the best of intentions. Why is it so easy for us to be our own worst enemy, particularly when it comes to making changes? This often leaves people frustrated and feeling like they “failed” yet again.

This intention-action gap, also known as the value-action gap or knowledge-attitudes-practice gap, occurs when one’s values, attitudes, or intentions don’t match their actions. Sometimes, the gap results from behavioral bias favoring immediate gratification. What can we do to bridge the gap between our intentions and our actions? What prevents us from harmonizing our beliefs and motives such that they result in the improvements we desire to experience or see in our daily life?

There appears to be a lack of drive to accomplish our goals. This activity, according to Paul Thagard, a philosophy professor in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Waterloo and the 2013 Killam Prize recipient, occurs when the conscious part of our goals is interrupted by unconscious, automatic ones, allowing us to adapt to our circumstances.

When we are distracted in our life, such as when we are hungry, tired, or stressed, this happens. The intention-behavior gap, according to some academics, includes five components: motive, trigger, reaction, the person’s abilities, and the process involved. These nuances enable us to understand the barriers of change for the person making the choice and to advocate techniques for effective implementation of action (Faries 2016).

This entire process functions from the perspective of cognitive behaviour, and it is a complicated process that occurs in the brain, the frontal cerebral cortex, and is psychological in character.

When we wish to make a change in our life, we generally begin with an intention, which might be an expressed declaration of a goal or a secretly held notion. Change is a decision-making process that involves various brain regions that become integrated, resulting in behavior and actions. However, all too frequently, it is only a decision to change, rather than the desired behavioral change.

To effect change, the region of our brain responsible for the action (motor cortex) must be aroused. Before that section is engaged, the advantages and drawbacks of information coming from various brain areas and processed by the “executive center” are weighed.

Change is not a one-time occurrence. It entails discomfort, pain, choice, and action, each of which has a neurological equivalent related to distinct areas of the brain. Having the desire to change may not always be the challenge; rather, the difficulty is in the gap between wanting and ability in intending and doing. “Even when we are open to changing,” author David Rock writes, “our brain is activated to be on alert when changes are presented.” The way and where we focus our attention are a crucial role in creating changes in our life. We cannot reverse a habit (emotional reaction or thinking) once it has been programmed.

However, by paying attention to what we want to replace it with, we may construct new connections. This is the point at which the brain and mind come together to play an important part in creating change in our lives.

” Intention and action must be paired in the brain throughout all times (my italics) for the actions to be accomplished,” writes Srinivasan S. Pillay in his book, Your Brain and Business.

One of the most difficult aspects of carrying out this switching action is suppressing conflicting thinking patterns that have previously held us back from making changes. These disruptive thinking patterns are the product of habit development – stronger brain circuits formed because of recurrent action.

One strategy for dealing with distraction and inhibiting competing ideas is to become conscious of our inner conversation. What are we telling ourselves? What types of tales do we tell ourselves about our lives?

“What new story expressing the entirety of my existence can engage the reward regions of my brain and take me from merely thinking about what I desire to take action?” we may ask ourselves.

It’s like a 100-yard sprinter with both feet in the starting blocks, ready to dash to the finish line, but nothing will happen until the start gun fires.

New ideas, new narratives are the starting pistol that propels us to action.

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