What is a lapse? A lapse is a slip, mistake, error, or “temporary” misstep. What it’s not is a permanent pattern of behavior that is signaling the path to an unhealthy life. It’s not a reflection on a persons competence or will to make or maintain a lasting healthy life.Lapses are events that indicate that something is going on that needs attention. Click To Tweet
For example, let’s say you intended to exercise today, but got called into a last minute staff meeting and it caused you to miss your exercise session. Is this a lapse? Probably not.
Now let’s say you were stressed out from your meeting and had not missed your scheduled exercise time but rather went home and soothed your stress by eating cake. Is this a lapse? Yes.
One was out of your control, the other was a choice you made NOT to exercise.
Now replace that meeting with a holiday party or decorating or cleaning or family gathering or shopping or… Well, you get it, all the responsibilities of life. What do they have in common with the meeting? They invade your usual schedule and increase stress (negatively or positively).
Understanding the ABC’s of Behavior
Antecedents → behavior → consequence is the flow for the ABC’s of behavior.
Antecedents are the things that happen prior to a behavior. This is in the form of thoughts, feelings, and events. It may be one event or a string of events.
Behavior is the way in which you react to antecedents. This can also be called the “triggering events(s)”.
Consequences are the results of your behavior. These can be in the form of thinking, missed opportunity, and reward or punishment. The consequences can act to change or reinforce future behavior.
Let’s take a look at the example above. Your plan was to go to the gym and exercise. You are at work and get called into a staff meeting. The meeting runs a bit late and is stressful (Antecedent).
Because of this, you think “my evening is blown” I should just go home and reward myself for a hard day at work. You head home miss your exercise session and eat cake (behavior).
You get home and eat cake. You feel good for the moment but soon you start to think “I blew it. I should have gone to the gym. I’m no good at this exercise thing, I won’t go back”. So you quit. Physically you have a net gain of hundreds of calories. The calories are eaten plus the calories you would have burned at the gym could be looking at as your “net gain” based on your decision not to go to the gym.
Dealing with lapses
There are ways to deal with lapses. You don’t have to be a victim of the lapse. In fact, a lapse can be a learning experience that can help you improve your ability to handle these situations in the future. In other words, learn from your mistakes. Read part two of this article to learn how to learn from lapses.