Contributed by guest writer Shonah Nykiforuk

When Our Behavior Has Become a Problem

“The first step is admitting it”. We know this term in association with Alcoholics Anonymous, where the alcoholic has to come to admit they have a problem they don’t have control over.

Though addiction might be our first thought when it comes to ‘admitting a problem’, it’s actually much more adaptable to everyday situations, actions and thought processes. We all have aspects of ourselves that we would like to change or improve, maybe even aspects that we don’t even yet realize are there.

It is Difficult to Admit that Your Behavior is a Problem?

It’s not easy to admit we have done something wrong, or that we are acting out in a problematic behavior, and it’s difficult to see how our own actions are affecting relationships around us.

We may be able to recognize the triggers that upset us or ‘get us going’ as it were, but do we really understand why it is that we do what we do?

Am I a Bad Person if I am the Problem?

Guilt and shame are often associated with admission, as admission is a realization that we may in fact be the source of the issue. It’s difficult to separate “I did something bad” (guilt) versus “I am a bad person” (shame). To avoid shame we will often blame others, disassociate or ignore the issues at hand.

But what if we aren’t bad people, just acting out of bad habits, learned behavior and an unawareness of our actions?

Everyone, including me and you, have blind spots, areas of ourselves that we don’t see but are seen by those around us. These blind spots can often cause us to speak and act in ways that are not complimentary to our personality, but are somehow second nature to us.

When someone points out these blind spots, or we get a glimpse of them ourselves, it can be a painful realization.

Admitting we have done something wrong, have acted inappropriately or participated negatively in a relationship is an extremely hard thing to do, which makes admission an act of courage.

Further to that, admitting we need help with this aspect of ourselves is an act of bravery. The important thing about admittance, is we can only change aspects of ourselves that we acknowledge are there. We must bring that blind spot into the light and look at it, acknowledging it is part of us, but also acknowledge that it does not have to define us.

Once acknowledged we can start to decide what to do about it.

Can We Learn Better Responses

When we admit to a lacking skill, like not knowing how to swim, the solutions are quite easy; sign up for swimming lessons, spend more time around the water to minimize the fear, or ask a friend who has a pool if you can come over and practice laps.

Admitting to unbecoming behavior we no longer like and wish to change is not as easily fixed as signing up for swimming lessons. Furthermore, once we admit to a behavior, how are we supposed to go about fixing it?

Have you ever thought, “I don’t like that I do this, but I just don’t understand how to stop.” There could be ignorance to the behavior in that we don’t even know why we do things the way we do them, or patterns of thinking that are natural to us, but when we start to think about it we aren’t really sure where these thought patterns generated from.

This is where we must admit that we need help with a deeper understanding of ourselves.

Admitting to wrong is difficult, but admitting to help with our wrongs is near impossible for most people. This is why making that first contact with a counsellor is such a big step in getting the help we need.

Counsellors are trained to help clients identify destructive thought patterns that lead to undesired behavior.

There are four stages of consciousness when it comes to our behavior:

1. Unconscious Incompetence – Meaning we are unaware of our behavior and don’t realize there is anything we need to do about it, otherwise known as ignorance.

2. Conscious Incompetence – Where we become aware of our behavior, but don’t understand what to do about it, otherwise known as awareness.

3. Conscious Competence – This is where we start to learn what to do about our behavior and begin to implement change, which is known as the learning stage.

4. Unconscious Competence – This is where our changed thought patterns and action become second nature to us, where our blind spots are now known and changed, also called mastery.

Realizing and Admitting You Have a Problem is the First Step

Moving from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence means we have admitted to a problem, but we may not know what to do about it. This first step can be done by our own realization, through a blind spot being pointed out to us, or through intervention.

It becomes more difficult to move through the phases of consciousness without the help of counsellor guidance through our automatic thought patterns.

With the help of your counsellor using an online or face to face option,  you can begin to learn where these maladaptive thought patterns came from and how to build new neural pathways in your thinking, creating unconscious competence and mastery in your behavior.

Counselling Can Help

Counselling doesn’t necessarily have to be for crisis management for our lives, but an option for when we come into conscious awareness of our actions and have a desire to change those actions to better suit our lives and the direction we want to be going.

Moving into conscious incompetence is a gift we give ourselves, as it’s the first step towards awareness and then

This is not a process of shame, it’s a process of courage and bravery, but the first step is always admittance, as you can’t change a pattern or behavior that you aren’t aware you carry.

The counsellors at Incentive Counselling can help you move through the stages of consciousness and get you to a better version of you by leading you into conscious competence and then mastery.


When you think over the past season, say the last three to four months, have there been aspects of your behavior that you have felt you’ve become aware of?

How has this behavior affected your actions or relationships?

Do you notice your thought patterns leading up to this behavior or perhaps after the behavior?

Do you feel motivated to change these automatic thoughts and behaviors but don’t know where to start?

If you want to be really brave, ask a close friend or family member to tell you something about yourself that they see and maybe you don’t.

They will most likely tell you something encouraging to start off. After they divulge this, ask them to tell you something about yourself they see and you don’t that could maybe use some improvement.

This is a very vulnerable thing for your friend or family member to do, so give them some grace and thank them for their honesty, then just sit with what they say, bring it into awareness and find the truth in it.

When you’re ready, make an appointment with a counsellor and let them know of your recent awareness and what you desire to do about it. It’s a privilege to journey with clients who are exploring their different levels of awareness and working towards mastery of themselves.