Behavior is indeed a function of the consequences it produces, but it is also much more than that. It is also a function of identity. Many times, particularly in regard to important issues, we do things seemingly in spite of the consequences, but because we see ourselves as the kind of person who does these things. Who we think we are has a lot to do with how we behave in any given situation.
We tend to act in ways that confirm our sense of who we are. Research in social psychology has many times over proven this. Any change which is in direct conflict with our sense of identity tends to be unsuccessful. When we start to identify changes with us becoming more of the person we aspire to be then those changes gain a lot more energy. We need to begin to see ourselves as being the kind of person who does the things we would like to habitually come to do.
This is part of the reason that those who self identify as being “in recovery” do better than those who dont. It gives a longer frame of reference. If you are “in recovery” you are more prone to look on bad times, even if they are very bad, as still offering the opportunity to gain skills to be successful in life. An identity based on what you can become inspires effort and persistence in the most challenging of times.
The idea of recovery is more than about changed behavior. It is about a new identity for people whose previous identity was based on the failures they had in life. It is about buying into a new story of what life can be and what you can become. Identity really does count.