209: Laura Coe, part 2: Practice changing habits

August 19, 2019 by Joshua
in Podcast

Laura and I explore the feelings and emotions around our environmental behavior, specifically that we don’t like, like throwing away food. I predict you’ll find her descriptions of how people feel familiar.

In other episodes I’ve shared how I find that our emotions are causing our environmental problems, not CO2. The behavior of CO2 simply results from our behavior. That’s why I feel what’s missing is leadership: influencing people’s emotions. Now people consider acting on the environment a chore, distraction. If we want people to like acting on their environmental values, it will help to help them connect rewarding emotions.

Laura describes the emotional landscape of someone not acting on their values, and how to change them. This concept of saying people don’t care inhibits people from acting. I find everyone cares. To say the don’t makes them feel you don’t understand them, which undermines your ability to influence them.

I can’t stand people making environmental behavior a moral issue. If you say to someone that they don’t care, they think, “I do care. If you think I don’t, up yours. You’re not superior.” But discounting others’ emotions and cares create more counterproductive results: it leads them to think of their justification for what behavior affected the environment, reinforcing the feeling you’re trying to change.

It’s like when trying to attract a guy or girl who isn’t showing you attention. I recommend not asking, “why don’t you find me attractive?” or similar questions. Whatever feelings they had, you led them to voice them, which solidifies and strengthens them. Now they find you less attractive more strongly.

Tell someone they don’t care about the environment and you lead them to keep doing what they were doing.

People have done it with you.

Laura speaks thoughtfully and with experience on how we feel and react, which I consider the major frontier for environmental action now that the science is clear. It’s also most people’s major frontier to improve their lives.

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