Behaviour Change, Batman vs Tarzan!
We did it!
I can only apologise for the lower tone of this article 😄
Batman is our cat. A girl cat, for the record.
During the building work on our house a couple of years ago she stayed at my parents for a few months. We didn’t want to risk her running off so she was kept inside and had a cat litter box.
When she came home we learnt she had got a bit too comfortable with the luxury of an indoor toilet. The mud in our garden was no longer good enough! Premium indoor feline restroom facilities were the only option for this furry prima donna!
And today, over two years since she become oh so self-important, she has started going to the toilet outside again! Hurrah!
This is behaviour change. I love working with people to change the way they see the world and themselves - to find new empowering ways of being and beliefs about what’s possible. However, sometimes all we need is to change a habit to have a profound impact on our lives and those around us.
I didn’t help Batman change her world view or work through a limiting belief. I simply helped her change her behaviour through incremental steps.
Depending on who you are and what change you want to make, you may favour getting there in one big leap - like taking a Tarzan swing from one tree to the next - or you may prefer to take the rope bridge, one step at a time.
We tried the Tarzan swing approach with Batman. We simply put her litter box outside and hoped for the best. And, predictably if we’re honest, she freaked out and weed in a corner of the lounge. Clearly not her style! Turns out she prefers the rope bridge!
So over a period of about 3 weeks we inched her tray closer and closer to the back door, then had a few days with the back door open and the tray just outside, then the tray further from the back door. And finally, the back door closed.
Any time she got overly anxious when looking for her tray, we brought it back a bit. If she freaked out at any point in the process her nervous system would detect a threat and it would take us much longer to move forward again. So, one step back to take two steps forward. Allowing her to experience a bit of discomfort, confusion or anxiety was part of the process. Keeping her within, or right on the edge of what she could tolerate was necessary to achieve the goal in a sensible timeframe. Like stepping across gaps in the rope bridge - slightly scary, but doable.
Think about a behaviour change you want to make - will you take the Tarzan swing, or the rope bridge?
This article is part of 100 Days of Creation, my challenge to myself to write 100 articles in 140 days, each taking no longer than 30 minutes to write and publish.