Have you ever been in a situation and just wondered “Why are you the way you are?” Why someone does what they do (or continues to do it) theoretically comes down to the function of the behavior.
Behavior essentially has four functions: tangible, sensory, attention, and escape/avoidance. Going to work? Tangible – you want the money! Calling your BFF to tell her about your terrible day? Attention. Your need to buy Lularoe leggings because they are buttery soft? Sensory. Hitting the red decline button when your ex calls? Avoidance.
If you want to figure out why you continue to do the things you do (or why someone else in your life does) you simply follow the ABC’s of behavior. Antecedent (I recognize that number – my ex!) – Behavior (hit that decline button, stat!) and consequence (whew! I dodged a bullet there!).
When you really do not know why you keep making the same mistake 50 times despite knowing better, start tracking your ABC’s. You might be surprised by what you find out about yourself. Once you see a pattern in your behavior, you can make a conscious effort to change what you are doing if you need a different outcome.
Following your ABC’s and recording them can also help you have a discussion with your healthcare providers. You can record the ABC’s of eating habits, emotions you’re feeling, or pain management. Showing your healthcare provider data takes the emotion out of the conversation and helps them recognize patterns or trends in your care.
Why do you do what you do? Self-monitor and find out!
For more information on functions of behavior: