Recently, we wrote about psychological barriers to being environmentally proactive. We highlighted the importance of getting involved in your local community, as well as the value in supporting others, rather than chastising them for their wasteful habits. Here, we have more strategies for combating your own psychological barriers, so that you can feel empowered to live a greener lifestyle.

Barrier: “Living the life I want is at odds with my environmental values.”

This is what they call ‘cognitive dissonance.’ It’s when your actions are at odds with your principles and beliefs. Maybe you love going for long, lakeside drives in your car. But, you also know that you’re polluting the air when you do it. Or maybe you have a weakness for individual plastic-wrapped foods. But, your nagging conscience knows that it’s a wasteful habit.

The problem is, when you experience this kind of dissonance, you sink further into denial. You happen to live in a world full of environmentally-‘bad’ temptations, and you don’t have infinite willpower to resist them all the time. So what does your mind do? It sides with what’s convenient, gives into temptations, and turns a blind eye to the damage being done.

How is there any chance you can fix this?

Solution: Make it convenient.

If you do some planning before, you can make an environmentally-conscious lifestyle a convenient one. Are you feeling guilty about the long, solo drive to work every day? Make plans to move to a place that’s closer to your work. Can’t do that? Calculate how much time it would take to use public transit. Still can’t do that? See if you have any coworkers that would carpool with you. Luckily, in this world, there’s always more than one solution.

Barrier: “It’s an issue that’s totally out of my control.”

Even if you’re doing your best, there's always moments where you'll feel that it’s an issue totally out of your control. It’s true, no person can individually solve climate change. But, it’s important to remember that if each person is feeling disempowered, no one will act to improve the situation, and matters will only get worse.

How do you maintain an empowered attitude?

Solution: Track your progress.  

Once you see the good impact your actions are having, you’ll be more inspired to keep up the good work. So, whatever it is you’re doing, whether it’s wasteless lunches, composting, or walking to work, keep a log of your activity, and congratulate yourself when you stick to your goals. This is the best way to build confidence.

Barrier: “Being environmentally conscious means that I have to give something up.”  

Maybe you love having a full wardrobe, replete with new, designer clothes. Or you’re an avid traveller, and you buy flights across the world without thinking twice. Though there is sometimes a sacrifice in being environmentally conscious, it doesn’t always mean giving up your favorite things.

How do you fight this feeling of loss?

Solution: Make it an art.  

It feels good to save, to live a minimalist lifestyle, and to own appliances that aren’t disposable. Building your own tiny home can be romantic. Walking to work can also be a source of fulfillment. In the end, living an environmentally conscious lifestyle can be very rewarding.

Want to see how people are making an art of environmentally conscious living? Check out these:

Tiny Homes:

Sustainable Fashion:

Zero Waste Living:

Choosing a proactive attitude doesn’t come without its challenges, but it can be very fulfilling. Remember, if you spend some time planning, you can make green habit building easier. When you feel that environmental issues are out of your control, track the progress you’ve made to remind yourself of the positive impact. Keep in mind that living a green lifestyle doesn’t always mean that you’re giving up what you love. In fact, it can connect you to others, and it can connect you to your home, planet Earth. If you have any additional green tips to offer, share them with us in the comments section below!

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