Digging in the dirt

I’m digging in the dirt
To find the places I got hurt
Open up the places I got hurt

Peter Gabriel

 

 

Recently,  the Rock and Roll Hall of  Fame inducted Peter Gabriel.  As the front man for the band Genesis, Gabriel’s elaborate costumes got the band noticed.  His unique singing and writing led to the band’s success. In 1986, Gabriel left Genesis and released the album So which sold five million copies. His next album Us was released six years later.  On that album you will  find the  song Digging in the Dirt.

According to Gabriel,Digging in the Dirt  is a song about his therapy.  There are many interpretations about the song.  These include domestic violence, murder and many others.(you can find more of those here.)  Since there are no factual interpretations, please indulge my therapeutic perception .

This is the chorus of the song :

This time you’ve gone too far [x3]
I told you [x4]
This time you’ve gone too far [x3]
I told you [x4]

Don’t talk back
Just drive the car
Shut your mouth
I know what you are
Don’t say nothing
Keep your hands on the wheel
Don’t turn around
This is for real
Digging in the dirt
Stay with me, I need support
I’m digging in the dirt
To find the places I got hurt
Open up the places I got hurt

The beginning part,

This time you’ve gone too far [x3]
I told you [x4]
This time you’ve gone too far [x3]
I told you [x4]

Don’t talk back
Just drive the car
Shut your mouth
I know what you are
Don’t say nothing
Keep your hands on the wheel
Don’t turn around
This is for real

 

I believe  this is Gabriel’s fear and  shame  speaking.  He wants to run, avoid, and not deal with the places he got hurt.  Gabriel is shaming himself with the repeated yelling “this time you’ve gone too far/ I told you”.  He knows that he should not be sharing his innermost thoughts with anyone( a message perhaps that he received in childhood).  In the next part of the song, Gabriel sounds like a small boy who is hearing what he needs to do :

Don’t talk back
Just drive the car
Shut your mouth
I know what you are
Don’t say nothing
Keep your hands on the wheel
Don’t turn around
This is for real

Gabriel’s inner shame and self loathing have taken over.  He is worthless, afraid, and ashamed.

Although afraid and ashamed, Gabriel is aware that he is in need of the therapist’s help. Later in the chorus he finds his healthy voice:

Digging in the dirt
Stay with me, I need support
I’m digging in the dirt
To find the places I got hurt
Open up the places I got hurt

The phrase “stay with me I need support” is a request to  the therapist to be with him on this journey of “finding the places I got hurt”.  He knows that he is in a trusting therapeutic relationship because he not only wants to find those places, he wants to “open up the places I got hurt”.

Gabriel sounds calmer, less shamed, and very aware in the next verse:

The more I look, the more I find
As I close on in, I get so blind

He knows there’s a bunch of issues that he has to find.  He gets overwhelmed as he starts to uncover the pain.

This song is a great example of the therapeutic process.  The chorus is so appropriate for many people that I have seen over the years.

I  have seen  clients having a  “this time you’ve gone too far” reaction  many times by doing the following:

  •  having “hot flashes” (men too)
  • getting uncomfortable physically–fidgeting, playing with pens, keys, pillows, etc
  • needing an immediate bathroom break
  • standing up
  • abruptly changing the subject
  • leaving the session

Like Gabriel’s experience, therapy is scary.  It’s full of fear, pain, shame and guilt.  People keep looking and finding.  They keep asking “why” sometimes without answers.  Sometimes they find answers that they don’t like. Sometimes people become aware that they need to take action and those actions are overwhelming and scary.   Sometimes there are no answers, only questions.  Sometimes, my best and only contribution, is my understanding of the pain, sadness, and loss that my client is feeling.

I’ve seen many clients over the years go through storms in order to find their rainbow (If you’d like to read more on this topic,  go to one of my old blogs “You can’t have a rainbow without a storm”).   I enjoy the experience of seeing people make changes in their lives.  As we “dig in the dirt”,  we get to plant seeds and crops that grow year after year.  They are fruitful, they are plentiful, and they are healthy.  Don’t be afraid to dig–Change is Possible!

 

 

 

 

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Manny Being Manny

“…grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…”

 

It’s getting close to one of my favorite times of the year–the start of baseball season.  In order to get ready for the upcoming season, it’s important to have a historical perspective.  As a die hard New York Yankee fan, I am going to commit a blasphemous act–I am going to discuss a legendary Boston Red Sox player.  Manny Ramirez was their left fielder for 8 years, and was probably one of the Sox’ most popular player.  He had a knack of saying the wrong things at the wrong time, losing track of the game, and generally being on his own planet.  Redsox fans described this as Manny being Manny.This  video describes many of these Manny being Manny moments:

Wikipedia finishes our Manny Ramirez story:

In 2009 he was suspended 50 games for violating baseball’s drug policy by taking human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a women’s fertility drug.According to steroid dealer Victor Conte, hCG is often used to restart natural testosterone production after a steroid cycle.In the spring of 2011, Ramirez was informed by MLB of another violation to its drug policy, which could result in a 100-game suspension. He chose to retire on April 8 rather than face a 100-game suspension.

You would expect nothing different from Manny since he was a person who played by his own rules.  Although an exciting and charismatic player,  Manny was always being Manny.

In our daily lives, we are unlikely to find a Manny Ramirez.  We will however find people who are difficult to deal with.  When we encounter  these people, we  can  choose to either get upset or  accept them.  Let’s look at  these three vignettes, and answer the question that follows:

Vignette #1

Paul Maxwell is a 60 year old  man who happens to be your father.  Paul has an interesting character trait.  He likes to flirt, and make advances on all of your friends.  (These women are in their 20’s) One of them has described his behavioral eloquently  as being “PaulMaxwelled”.  When Paul Maxwell is your dad you have several choices:

A) Arrange a hit on his life (not a great idea)

B) Kill him yourself(a worse idea)

C) Become terribly depressed, anxious, ashamed, with no self-esteem and feel further victimized by Paul Maxwell

D) Accept that Paul Maxwell is being Paul Maxwell and get therapy for yourself in order to feel better

Vignette 2

Jenny Malone is your new boss.  Jenny is the company hotshot brought in from another state.  She is replacing your best friend who has left the company.  As a employee of the company for the past 10 years, you have given them your blood, sweat and tears.  Jenny decides to change all the things in the department that have worked for the 10 years that you’ve been there.  After massive frustration in dealing with Jenny you decide to:

A)  Punch her in the face(not a great idea)

B) March into the Vice-President’s office, shouting expletives, and describing in full detail her late hour escapades with other employees of the company(not a great idea)

C) Leave the best job that you’ve had with the awareness that you  will never get a job this good again

D) Accept that Jenny Malone is being Jenny Malone and get therapy for yourself in order to  feel better

 Vignette Number 3

Bobby and Janey Duncun  have been married for 5 years.  They have a child, Bobby, Jr who is  6years old.  Bobby Sr. drinks every day.  Sometimes while drunk, he has gotten angry with Janey and called her choice words .  Janey has tried to get Bobby to stop drinking.  She’s thrown out the alcohol, yelled and screamed at him for drinking, negotiated deals with him so that he wouldn’t drink.  She is angry and frustrated and feels unloved. At this point Janey’s best strategy is to:

a)    Continue to nag, scold, beg, cajole, scream in order to get him to stop drinking

b)    Have an affair with very interested neighbor Billy Washington down the street

c)    Take little Bobby and move back home with her  alcoholic parents

d)    Accept that Bobby is being Bobby(while getting therapy and attending Alanon)

The obvious answers to our quiz is “D” in all of these situations. The thing we learn from all of this is that Manny Ramirez, Paul Maxwell, Jenny Malone and Bobby Duncun are starring as themselves– They do what they do in ALL situations.  Manny is just being Manny, Paul is just being Paul, Jenny is just being Jenny, and Bobby is being Bobby.

When we encounter these people our best option is to ACCEPT them and their behavior.  In order to do that we need something that will help us–the serenity prayer:

serenityIf we ACCEPT what we cannot change, which are all other people’s behavior, and change the things we can, which is our reactions to them, then we can have serenity.  3 sentences can give us all the change we need.  Use them regularly and you will feel better.

Remember change is possible.

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Thank you

You didn’t have to love me like you did
But you did, but you did.
And I thank you.
Issac Hayes

When I say “thank you” I mean it as it is intended. Thank you for helping me. We probably don’t say it enough. We don’t acknowledge those people who do the simple mundane tasks or even those who go out of their way to do more. For whatever reason, we have decided that thanking people isn’t all that important. We move on to the next thing that we are doing. For those who still have these words in their vocabulary, thank you for using them!

It’s good that we take the time to thank people. However, there are some people that we would never thank. These are people that we feel hurt, resentment and pain towards. These feelings are the venom that pervades our souls with blackness. We are much more likely to use some other two word greeting than the kind and gentle “thank you”. But what if I said “thank you” to this resented person? What if the “thank you” could actually help ME?

If we have venom towards an ex-partner, family member, boss etc, these feelings follow us everywhere. They invade our day, our night, and our sleep. We constantly bombard ourselves with these intense feelings. We can’t stop thinking about the damage that has been caused. In the worst of circumstances, we are engulfed when thinking about the upcoming family gathering, work meeting, sporting event. There is no way that we could possibly be in the same room as that person, let alone in close proximity. By constantly obsessing about this person, we are giving him/her tons of power. This person is “taking up rent free space in our heads”. We can do something different to make it better for us.

Doing something different implies taking a risk. The risk involves thanking the person for their help. For example, I have to ask my ex-partner to pick up the kids from swimming class. My automatic thoughts might be “I have to ask this person to do this; s/he should know the schedule and should be volunteering to help. I mean after all s/he did to me…..etc”. My healing and empowering new thoughts can be “I’ll ask him/her to pick up the kids”. When the ex-partner fulfills the request, all I have to do is say “thank you”. I don’t have to rant, rave, harangue, tell everybody about what a jerk -off my person is. All that is necessary is a thank you.

When we use our own power instead of a reaction to the past, or obsess in the voluminous rent free space zone, we get to have a new version of ourselves. The partner may or may not see the difference but we end up of free of agita, anxiety, rage, hurt and resentment. This healing “thank you” gives us the freedom to change, the freedom to be better, and most importantly, the freedom to be myself. Sly Stone of Sly and the Family Stone said it best “thank you for letting me be myself again”

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Don’t You Want Me

In the fall of 1982, I was a graduate student in Baltimore, Maryland.  Every morning, I got up early to go to my job that started at 7AM.  From work it was onto class at 4PM .  This was what I did every day for 6 months straight.  Part of my morning ritual was listening  to the radio en route to work.  It seems that I heard this song every morning:

Over 30 years later, this song is still playing on the radio. I hear this song today  differently than I did then.  This song has a therapeutic theme which I have heard many times.  For example-

How many of my clients :

  • have told me this story?
  • got involved with a controlling possessive person only to have to extricate themselves from that relationship?
  •   did not or could not get out of that relationship?
  •   have been with that “love of my life” only for their partner to drop them and move on?

It’s always interesting how people choose their partner.  In previous blogs, we focused in on the communication patterns that stirred up “old stuff”.  I  often wonder what each person looks for in a relationship and what “old stuff” is contributing to that decision.    I’ve worked with countless number of women who grew up in addicted families and married another addicted person.  It was a familiar match made in hell.  I’ve worked with men who had a cold, rejecting, hurtful, mother who married a woman who was cold, rejecting, and hurtful.  Some of these decisions were consciously made.  The person thought that their partner needed fixing or that they would get better.  Other times these discoveries were made in my office after the fact.  Regardless of the motive, the question that I hear is “why did I do this”?  “Why did I marry him/her?”.

Michelle Weiner-Davis is a therapist, and author of the book Divorce Busting.  Her approach is to save marriages  because of the costs, both financial and emotional, of divorce.  However, when people are married to the wrong person, or have a dysfunctional, magnetic connection to a partner, those marriages can not work.  The cost of staying is far greater than the cost of leaving.  Staying in bad marriages, strips self-esteem, self- worth and self- love.  People tend to deal with these partnerships through “quick fix band aids”–addictive behavior, infidelity,  or by developing physical illnesses or mental illness such as anxiety or depression . These costs are chronic, painful, and some times leads to worse problems.

The “Should I Stay or Should I Go” decision  is difficult and scary.  It requires weighing out the  advantages and disadvantages of staying or going.  If you follow the Divorce Busting     approach,  you stay and you work it out.  If you are in a dysfunctional, painful, empty relationship, you have a lot of thinking to do.  Don’t You Want Me Baby is a painful refrain full of rejection; it’s also a song of getting away and getting healthy.

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Fork in the Road

“Life is complex.
Each one of us must make his own path through life. There are no self-help manuals, no formulas, no easy answers. The right road for one is the wrong road for another…The journey of life is not paved in blacktop; it is not brightly lit, and it has no road signs. It is a rocky path through the wilderness. ”
M. Scott Peck

Many years ago, before the gps was invented, I got directions to go to a family party.  The trip was going well, and we were right on time.  Unbeknownst to me, the road  that we were on was about to end (this part was not in the directions). We were faced with two choices–go left or go right.  We sat at the stop sign, trying to figure out the best option.  Ultimately, we turned right.  This was was in fact wrong and proceeded to drive off course.  After driving around for a while, we eventually righted our course and arrived at our destination.

 Each and every day, many of us arrive at that stop sign with a left or right turn option.  It looks like this:

 

Every day, we can decide to change or not to change.  We talk about it all the time ” I should go to the gym” , “I should get a new job” ,” I should lose weight”.  We “should” on ourselves but ultimately don’t do anything.  Change is hard.  I think the decision process looks like this:

Our “”change/no change” slide tells the story.  On one hand, it would be so much better for me to change–I’d feel better, but it’s scary and unknown.  On the “no change side”, it’s familiar,  but  as Henry Ford said “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got”.  “No change” keeps us stuck!  The hardest part about this “stuckness” is that I know intellectually that making any change is going to be better, but because I’ve projected way way down the path it looks very scary.  Staying right where I am usually wins out.

Let’s look at a concrete example of this.  It’s the new year, and I’ve put on a few pounds from the holidays.  It’s time to lose weight. Let’s look at our change/no change view:

 

The “change” side speaks loudly:The pants are getting tighter, I hate how I look in the mirror, I know it would be medically better to lose these pounds, but to do this I have to sacrifice.  Am I willing to sacrifice my comfort, my ability to be “comfortably numb”?  Do I really want to exercise and not eat what I want?  Can’t I just work around this by getting bigger pants or not ever look in the mirror?   Day after day, I argue with myself.  My head is like a giant seesaw going back and forth between change and no change options.

We can continue in this state of ambivalence for a long time.  It can go on and on and on until we make a decision to do something.  Sometimes change occurs just by taking any type of action.  In our weight loss example, the action may have little to do with food or exercise.  It may be a decision to read or not sit on the couch endlessly.  Small change leads to bigger change.  Bigger change ultimately leads to the changes that we want.

In addition to doing something,  making a commitment to change sets up some accountability.  In our weight loss example, joining a program (i.e. Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystems, Over -Eaters Anonymous) allows us to “put our money where our mouth is”(literally) and commit to the opportunity for change.   Another way that commitment can work towards change is by telling people.Tell your friends, relatives, co-workers,  and social media universe about your plans for change(i.e. I’m going to lose 20 pounds this year). Ask them to check up on you about your change.  This accountability strategy can give you a little oomph towards your goal. We will definitely feel embarrassed if three months from now, my support people ask about weight loss, and there is no change.  Guilt and shame prevention is a good thing!    If we pay money and tell people about our changes, we’ve started to tilt that see-saw towards the change side.

We are now a technological society.  We have  a gps to help us to find our way when we are lost.  There is no electronic device that can change our default ambivalence settings.  We have to decide daily that change is better than no change.  Change is do- able.  Change is possible.  Make change happen.

 

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Change Is

Observations and Reflections as the year comes to a close

 

“And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.”
Libba Bray, The Sweet Far Thing

 Change is :

1)      Change is fear

2)      Change is pain

3)      Change is love

4)      Change is acceptance

5)      Change is hope

6)      Change is feeling

7)      Change is action

8)      Change is living life

9)      Change is flexibility

10)   Change is enjoying life

11)   Change is dealing with inconveniences, hassles and things that aren’t fair

12)   Change is grief

13)   Change is sadness

14)   Change is peace

Most of all change is possible

 

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The NHL and Parenting

I have been a hockey fan for most of my life. I was struck by The National Hockey League’s(NHL) speed, power, grace, and excitement. It is a sport with a regular season that goes on too long. However its claim to fame is its playoff series, a 16 win marathon that culminates in the celebration of Lord Stanley’s cup. It’s a sport played by professionals from 18-48 making it a sport played by both the youngest and oldest professional athletes.
The NHL also has a rather strategic way of policing its players who do not follow the rules. In fact, the league’s penalty system gives us a good model for parenting strategies. It disciplines its players immediately, for a specified period of time, and uses effective time outs (penalty box). It is also dishes out consequences based upon the person’s behavior.

The NHL has a very specific tier system which looks something like this:

  • Minor Penalty(tripping ,holding, high sticking, inference, slashing) 2 minutes
  • Major penalty(fighting) 5 minutes
  • Misconduct(usually towards referee) 10 minutes
  • Game Misconduct(major offense—hurting another player etc) Thrown out of game, possible suspension or fine.

When a player commits a wrong doing, it’s not only the player who is penalized, it’s his team. When a player goes to the penalty box for a two minute tripping minor, his team also plays shorthanded for those two minutes. Playing shorthanded increases the possibility that the opponents will score a goal making the penalty much more significant.

Could parents discipline their children using the NHL model? Yes! Good parenting is based upon immediacy and “making the punishment fit the crime”. The NHL has got that down perfectly. The NHL is already using a “time out” model, (penalty box), so that too is a good fit. Most penalties committed by children at home or in school are usually minor. They need some immediate consequences. A simple timeout, whether in a time out chair or sent to their room, will usually suffice as a consequence. The penalties and consequences could be adjusted according to the age of the child— a seven year old who doesn’t listen and a 15 year old who doesn’t listen could both be “minor” penalties. However the consequences of these “minors” would be different. This model also allows parents to identify appropriate consequences depending upon the infraction. A child who is bratty towards his sibling and one who steals from a store would need very different consequences. The NHL model also reinforces that yelling is counterproductive. There is only 1 reason to yell at a child, that is when they are in DANGER! I’ve never seen a referee yell at a player. He has pointed to the penalty box, asked nicely for the person to go, asked with a little more assertion, warned that the player will get a misconduct penalty if that does not go, and then gave them the 10 minute misconduct. No yelling to reinforce the consequence occurred.

The NHL also rewards good behavior. There are the Player of the Week, and Player of the Month awards. At the end of the season, there are the trophies for Most Valuable Player, Best Goalie, Best Defensive Player etc. The best NHL award is The Lady Byng trophy which is given to the “player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability”. Imagine an award for sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct in a professional sport. It is these awards and trophies that players can aspire to in order achieve bonuses in their contract. Using this incentive plan is also a way for parents to help their kids change behaviors. If you give a child a specific goal to work for (i.e. getting dressed in the morning by themselves), then they can have good reinforcement towards that goal—praise, stickers etc. Once the behavior is learned, no more struggles! Incentives also work with teenagers. Since teenagers always need something—phone, ride, clothes, money, they too can be asked to change their behaviors in order to achieve what they want.

The NHL has perhaps the finest conditioned athletes in the world, but ones who need structure, discipline, consequences, and incentives in order for them to have maximum performance. We want our kids to have their own maximum performance. To have that level of achievement, they need parents to give them incentives and consequences. Once children learn new behaviors, they feel better about themselves. Over time, they become happy and healthy kids. When they are happy and healthy, then they can win their own “Stanley Cup”.

Watch this video to learn more about the NHL:

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Get help if you are unsure of your marriage or relationship

You have been married for many years. You begin to recognize that you are not as happy as you used to be. You start examining the pros and cons of the relationship. Your partner has many pluses and a few chunky negatives. You are unsure of what to do. Follow this advice for some good ideas about your next steps.


Do seek counseling

You need a sounding board to air out your thoughts and feelings. As you go through this process, you may also change your mind on a regular basis. A good therapist will help you with both your feelings and with your decision making process. If your partner is willing to attend counseling, then both of you can go through this change process together. If he or she is unwilling, go to counseling by yourself. It can only help.

Do work on identifying your goals

Most people get married and stop identifying what they want. Some people become very partner driven and forget about their own needs and wants. It’s important to identify what you want and what’s most important to you. Do you want security, independence, happiness, partnership, a friend? Can you be OK by yourself?

Identify what’s a need versus what’s a preference.

Do keep yourself in good shape

Your decision making process is largely a mental and emotional event. Make sure you keep up your physical part since mental and emotional stress will drain your physical self. It’s not uncommon to lose weight or feel tired and dragging during this process. Make sure that you exercise, eat healthy, get sleep, and minimize your use of caffeine and alcohol in order to have the energy you need to make a good healthy decision.

Do connect with others

If you are going to go through this major process, you are going to need support. Who are your support people? Consider talking to friends, relatives, etc. Find your go to people and share your thoughts and feelings with them. Ideally, find people who have stayed and those that have left. Seek out a support group. There are some amazing message boards where you can be totally anonymous and hear and learn from others’ experiences.

Do consult with an attorney

Find an attorney who specializes in family law. Since knowledge is power, get empowered. Find out the rules of the game. How does alimony and child support work? Learn about the business of divorce while you are sorting out your emotions. Sometimes knowing that it is possible to get a divorce opens what was thought to be a closed door. By contrast, knowing what a divorce might do to you and the family might get you closer to working on the marriage.


Do not get into another relationship

When people are in the decision process, they are most vulnerable. It’s easy to share pain with another person who has similar pain. The misery loves company approach seems to work to find the fix to the problem. Due to their newness, these extra relationships just seeks to cause more confusion and ultimately more pain.

Do not nag, scold, or complain to your partner

When a person is unhappy in their marriage, the person they want to tell is their partner. However, how many times does the partner need to hear about the unhappiness? I’m guessing that unless that person is hearing impaired, lacking mental capacity, or suffering from neurological damages, that number is not a high one. Why add to your own frustration by being a broken record?

Do not try to fix your partner

It’s been said many times, “If only he would stop drinking…”, “If only he would get a job…”, or “If only she wasn’t so depressed things would be so much better.” When you love someone, you want them to get better. But you can’t fix them. Encourage them to find solutions to their own problems.

Do not medicate your pain

When confusion, fear, sadness, and anger are the feelings that predominate, who wants to feel these? No one. The easiest way to get rid of these is to use quick fix band aids like drinking, drugging, shopping, spending, eating, sex, relationships and work. They all work, kind of, but ultimately cause other and bigger problems. Short term pleasure usually leads to long term pain.

Do not isolate

Sometimes you see that many other people have their lives together. They are either happily married or successfully divorced. As a result, you think that you are the only one in this state of limbo. This constant stay or go makes you want to tell no one, and keep all of your pain inside. If you do this, your pain will only grow bigger and develop into a bigger problem. You really don’t need more problems, do you?


Summary

Making a decision about changing a relationship is one of the hardest things that people do. When there are kids involved, that decision making process is even harder. Give yourself the time that you need to identify your goals, identify your actions, and ultimately make yourself happy. Although there will be some tough days, you will make the right decision. Remember change is possible.

 

 

ExpertBeacon. Expert advice for the everyday crisis

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Convince Yourself That Change is Possible and It Is What You Want

This article is reprinted from:

http://expertbeacon.com/convince-yourself-change-possible-and-it-what-you-want/#.UaODgNhZ6Kl

How many times have you said things like: If only I could lose these five pounds, I’d feel so much better. I would love to stop smoking, these things are so expensive. I want to go to the gym. I want to get in good shape for the summer.

If you’re like most people, you’ve had conversations like this about many things. Unfortunately, you haven’t figured out how to take that huge first step. Some of you have plunged ahead only to have the next step be the one that brings your change momentum to a screeching stop. Here are some ideas that will help you to start the change process.

 

 

 


Do think small change

People inevitably think about change in large chunks. This viewpoint is a setup for failure because if your goals are too big, it’s easy to become frustrated. Think about making your changes small – lose 1 pound this week, go to gym once. If you succeed with this goal, your can take on a bigger goal next time.

 

Do some part of the change

Sometimes when people make the decision to change, they feel overwhelmed. They don’t know where to start. Should I stop drinking, eat better, lose weight, work on my relationship? Sometimes it’s just good to do some part of the change. If I want to stop drinking, maybe I should: read about not drinking, read about celebrities who have stopped drinking, or remove all the alcohol from the house. These are all examples doing part of the change process.

 

Do the opposite of what you usually do

This is called the opposite theory. Let’s say that your goal is to meet the woman of your dreams. You continue to go to places to meet this woman and strike out every time. Opposite theory would suggest that you stop looking. Do activities that enhance your well being. Mister or miss right will show up when you are not looking for him or her.

 

Do keep good data of your change

Treat your change process like a good research experiment. Write down your starting weight and other measurements like BMI, etc. and do regular weigh-ins. Log in your data weekly so that you can see the change. Your perception of the change may be different than the facts. Stay with the data, not how you feel.

 

Do allow yourself to be ambivalent

Not everyone is sold on the idea of change. In fact, most people are not. There is usually the healthy part of the person that wants to change. There is also the safe and comfortable part of the person who does not. This is normal. There is no reason to beat yourself up about things that you should want to do but don’t, like “I should want to lose 25 pounds”. You will find your way when you are ready.

 


Do not beat yourself up for perceived failures

Change is hard. No one is perfect. No one changes perfectly. Change is always 3 steps up and 2 steps back. People learn more about change from their setbacks than from their success. Be gentle on yourself, accept that these setbacks are part of the change process.

 

Do not have unrealistic expectations

It’s easy to fail when you have set up way too big a step of change, “I will lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks” for example, or “I will be divorced by the end of the month.” Be realistic, the old adage “slow and steady wins the race” is applicable here.

 

Do not sabotage your successes

Ambivalence is the battle between the healthy part and safe part of yourself. Sometimes when people are succeeding in their battle to change, they set themselves up their failure – the all you can eat buffet when on a diet, the bachelor party when stopping drinking, etc. Identify the risk factors that could lead to a setback and don’t put yourself in harms way.

 

Do not feel that this is your only time to get it

Most people have several attempts at failed change before they get it right. All of these failures are actually success, because they give good information about the triggers that set up failure. They also highlight when change will be tough. When you are ready, you will succeed.

 

Do not get frustrated

It’s easy to get the “f*ck- its” about the change process and go backwards. Have patience with yourself and recognize that change is hard work. Allow yourself to have setbacks. You are human right? Remember the best hitter in baseball fails 7 out of 10 times. Have some stick-to-itiveness in the process.

 


Summary

It’s easy to do the same old same old over and over. It’s familiar, predictable and safe. You can have so much more but you have to take that first BIG step. Be aware that you may have pitfalls, but recognize that they are opportunities for learning. No one fails at change, they just get better at it. You can be safe and miserable or take the risk and be happy. You know which one works best. Hopefully you’ll pick the change side. Always remember that change is possible.

ExpertBeacon. Expert advice for the everyday crisis

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