If you only read self-help books or articles by many pop-psychologists, you would likely believe that changing how you think, feel, and behave is a relatively easy process once you decide to do so. Many people write in such a way that leads you to believe it should be as easy as deciding to change and instant change occurs. Deciding to change is only the first of many steps toward the attainment of lasting and permanent change. It will require a commitment of your time and effort to reach your desired goal.
The first thing you must understand is that most of your thoughts and behaviors are not done in a conscious manner. They are mostly automatic and are habits you have developed over time. We all have a set of beliefs that determine how we see things and, therefore, determine what we think and what we do. This ultimately determines how we feel. In making the changes that will ultimately improve our mood, self-esteem, and our lives we are changing habits. Habits take time and effort to change.
We all have this conversation going on in our heads (self talk) that determines our reactions to events. I suggest that you start a journal and write about how you experience life. This will help you to identify faulty or distorted thinking that negatively affects your life. The next step is to explore alternative thoughts and behaviors to replace those that do not work. Having someone to share your thoughts and feelings with as well as exploring alternatives is extremely helpful. The support and encouragement from a trusted relative, friend, or counselor increases the likelihood of a successful outcome.
I will continue to discuss the process for change in my next post.
Change will happen with or without you. The only constant in life is change. If you fight or resist it, you will only become anxious, angry, and depressed. It is important to accept change and even welcome it.
One of my wife’s favorite tv shows is the “Biggest Loser” and I watch it when I can. If you are not familiar with the show I will give you a brief overview:
The contestants are all morbidly obese and range in age from late teens to sixties. They are divided between two personal trainers and spend most days in the gym working out extremely hard. They learn how to eat in a healthy way and live a healthy lifestyle. A contestant is eliminated each week until the finale. The is when the Biggest Loser is decided. The contestant with the highest percentage of weight loss is the biggest loser and wins the grand prize.
The contestants go through an incredible physical transformation as they lose the weight. Some have lost over half of their body weight by the finale. Another even more remarkable thing takes place. In order to make the commitment to work as hard as it takes to compete, many of the contestants work through the emotional issues that contributed to low self-esteem as well as the obesity. The life issues they face vary. But the result of working through the issues and taking off the weight changes them on the inside as well. You can actually see the internal changes take hold (better self-esteem, more content, a positive outlook on life).
They face all types of challenges and find they can overcome them. In going through the personal transformation that you want to achieve, it has to include your mind and body. You cant’t really be healthy emotionally if you are not working to improve yourself physically. People who feel good about themselves tend to take better care of themselves. The mind and body are connected. As you work on overcoming your issues you should work on making your body healthier as well.
One question I am asked on a pretty regular basis is whether it is possible to change things about ourselves. The answer is “Yes” we are capable of changing how we act, think, and feel. Much of what we do and think are the ways we learned to and these have become habits. The next question is normally is: How do I do that?
The first step is to identify what it is you want to change. What behavior or way of acting causes you problems? What way of thinking do you wish to change? You need to start by increasing your awareness in order to start changing. You will also need to find out what you will replace those thoughts or behaviors.
The next step I call catch and correct. Every time you catch yourself thinking or doing what you want to change, you correct your behavior or thinking to what you would rather it be. This takes vigilance and persistence. It takes time to break habits and establish new ones. It will take time.
Some counselors make it seem so easy. These are simple steps. But changing isn’t so simple and easy. Give yourself time and be gentle with yourself. You can do it!!!!!
My work is about helping people overcome the issues that have been inhibiting them from continuing to evolve as a person. I help them change the way they think and what things mean to them. More and more I am coming to understand how being honest and open and having the willingness to see things a bit differently, opens doors to incredible change and growth. It requires taking risks and a leap of faith. I ask them to take my hand as I guide them to an unknown place. I ask them to trust that going through a process that is difficult and sometimes painful will result in finding a more rewarding life.
It seems the most shameful and damaged part of our development is sexuality. This seems to be at the center of a huge number of issues people face. This has become more and more clear to me as a do more and more work in the area of early sexual abuse and how children are socialized about sex and their bodies. We can be shamed about a great many things about us. But, our bodies and our sexuality go to the core of who we are. The damage is deep and difficult to overcome. I refer back to the beginning of this post.
“More and more I am coming to understand how being honest and open and having the willingness to see things a bit differently, open doors to incredible change and growth. It requires taking risks and a leap of faith. I ask them to take my hand as I guide them to an unknown place. I ask them to trust that going through a process that is difficult and sometimes painful will result in finding a more rewarding life.”
I see this more clearly every day.