28 March, 2013

Changing our ways is a difficult thing to do. Most people have had the experience, when trying to change certain habits or patterns, of ending up with a feeling of failure. It is common to fall back into old ways of doing and thinking while we are trying to change.

Whether it is eating more muffins than usual on the first day of a diet, or falling back into arguments about the same old thing with our partner again, the process of counselling is about promoting change and walking alongside clients so new behaviours can be practised in a safe environment.

More often than not people return after the initial session saying they fell back into old habits and are convinced they are just not good enough to make changes or that it is just too hard to improve their circumstances.

There are many myths surrounding change. One of these myths is that change should take place suddenly and there should bes no falling back into old habits again while we are on the road to change.

In reality we do fall back into our old ways while trying to establish new patterns of behaviour and thinking, and we do that quite often. There is just no other way around it.

Our old habits served us quite well in the past, otherwise they would not have been established. The human body-mind-soul complex is a clever and ingenious system, which tries to keep everything in balance so we can survive physically and emotionally.

With that in mind, it drastically reduces pressure for people to hear they will, in some form, “fail”, while trying to develop a new habi. It doesn't matter whether it is about giving up smoking, getting physically fit or trying to go to bed earlier and get more sleep.

This is just the way we are built as human beings and our subconscious mind will come up with a lot of resistance when we are trying to change something within ourselves.

For our  unconscious mind and emotions it is about being efficient, and being efficient means doing the same old thing every day. Any change is a threat to the system and will be met accordingly.

Who has not experienced the feeling of trying to think only positive thoughts, and having at least the same amount of negative thoughts greeting us to say “ Hello, we are still here!”?

This is very common and happens to almost everyone who is trying to change their ways and it is not about personal failure. It is the way change takes place and represents the fact that our inner system will at first be resistant to change and send a few storm troopers our way.

A successful change of old habits often happens when we accept there will be difficulties along the way and that is perfect. It's fair to say the less pressure we apply, the faster and easier we will develop.

I can only say it is perfectly normal to "fail" the first time we try to change and not to give up. There will be difficulties and there will drawbacks. This is the nature of change.

Denise Reichenbach, Counsellor, Relationships Australia - Gladstone