Friday, 18 January 2013

Resolutions in small steps

A new year for many brings with it promises of reforms; resolutions not to do things that have or do cause us harm, and resolutions to improve our lives by taking action toward positive change. Both types of resolution often fail because we impose too much emphasis on too big a change for them to work, far better to make changes to our lives gradually. 

There is a theory that it takes practice to change habits and that we can only do so if we really want to transform in the first place. Just because you are told that you ought to diet or give up smoking, doesn't mean you have the will power or the interest to do so. Addictions come in many forms, alcoholism, drugs, smoking, gambling, eating disorders are forms of self harm and as I understand it are usually symptoms of unhappiness and not the root cause of them. However they can all too easily seem to be the soul difficulty to overcome. I would recommend tracking back to when these habits first formed with the aid of a therapist of some kind, for the theory is that if you can identify what first triggered the addiction you stand a better chance of changing it. Go easy on yourself - don't expect a magic wand, instant cure or miracle overnight. Take things slowly and you stand a better chance of reaching your goal.

The biggest part of changing your lifestyle always involves changing your mindset. To change a mindset from one that perpetually sees the negative in any situation to one that sees the potential for the positive is likewise a gradual process. First you need to catch yourself out whenever you notice you are being negative. That in itself can take many months to learn to notice negative habits that you might have and it doesn't automatically mean that you will be able to see any positives instead for that too needs to be learnt and takes practice. 

There is a danger too in swapping one extreme for another for to see everything in a positive light can lead to you not being realistic about any given situation. The trick is to find a balance and to make change manageable. It's best not to beat yourself up after every 'perceived' failure to achieve your target, far better to look at the efforts you made toward it and pat yourself on the back for trying and if you can try once, you can try again. Only with practice will you get further.

Most of us are capable of listing both the good and bad outcomes of any situation for we often do so for others. What we are often less adept in is doing it for ourselves because we often view spending time on sifting through our own attitudes as time wasted or as a form of selfish indulgence. Here too it comes down to a question of balance and what can help is a bit a self discipline with regard to the amount of time we allot to the task. Somewhere between 10 minutes but no more than an hour a day is what I would recommend we should need to make in roads into transforming our dreams for that happier self into a reality.

For the rest of the time we should be as we are now and function with our daily lives as normal. We should steadily and regularly review our progress only in our allotted time slot what we can try next to effect the changes we want to. When I embarked on this process is was with the aid of counselling. After every session of 40 minutes I would spend 20 minutes thinking about what had been discussed in the session and what my bite size targets were. As sessions were only once a week it meant that I had plenty of time to start to try out ideas for change in the interval between sessions. For myself I found that having a totally confidential (away from my personal relationships) sounding board to discuss things with was of enormous help. 

Over the years I have learned not only how to become a much more positive person who no longer feels guilty for the things I enjoy, but also how to avoid those around me that imposed their ideas on me and stifled my right to take an interest in things that I enjoyed doing.

It was often hard work to break away from others who inhibited me. Just recently I have ditched another who was dismissive of my hobbies, conversations about work and family but I am glad I have learned to do so without regrets for no one has the right to negate another person's joy or concerns. The journey may be a long one, but we can only make our dream lifestyle come true by embarking upon it and by continually travelling for along the way we soon discover inspiring new things to take joy in. At least that's what I have found.

All my best hopes and wishes on your journey to pastures bright, beautiful and new. Take it slowly to enjoy it.

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