What needs to change to improve your relationships and other areas of your life? Although figuring this out can be difficult, it is a necessary first step. If someone is in denial or unaware of issues then the likelihood of change is slim. There are many other factors that prevent people from changing. Sometimes someone else wants you to change more than you do and their nagging just gives you reason to not change. We may resist change because we believe that we will fail and have assumed a pessimistic and defeated mindset. Or maybe we are so set in our ways, habits, and beliefs that we can’t imagine doing things differently. In some cases, we harbor emotional baggage and unresolved conflicts that prevent us from changing. Fear, fatigue, stress, and possible loss can all hinder our ability to change. Pride and fear seem to be the dominant forces that prevent change in my practice. We can identify many obstacles, but sometimes the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of changing.
In couples counseling, change is required by both parties. Of course, one person may have more changing to do than the other, but my job is to point out what needs changing in each person and offer concrete strategies. Modifying thoughts, actions, and emotions is a process that takes time and requires commitment, perseverance, and patience. Working in mental health I get the opportunity to witness change everyday and believe in people’s ability to approach life differently. So how do we implement change?
Removing obstacles and setting goals are ways to start the change process. Identify action steps and develop a new routine with built-in rewards for positive progress. Remember that it takes 30 days to establish a new habit, so decide to make a daily commitment for at least one month. Anticipate setbacks, but don’t allow these challenges to get you completely off course and return to the new behavior as quickly as possible. Gather a support network that can hold you accountable and provide encouragement. Small changes can make big differences in your life. Be sure to have goals that are realistic, measurable, and specific so that you can monitor progress.
Today we have multiple devices to monitor fitness changes and these devices can be motivating. Unfortunately, relational and emotional changes are more difficult to monitor other than feedback from others and internal self-assessment. Occasionally, patients will notice a piece of furniture or painting and assume that it is new to the office. This is often a sign of their improvement since they are no longer self-absorbed and are more aware of their surroundings. Consider what changes can improve your life and make a plan of action now!