I'm going to change!!
So are you thinking of a New Year’s resolution? Is there something you want to change and the start of 2016 seems as good a time as ever?
Maybe you’ve decided your relationship with your partner has ended and you want to move on? Or perhaps you want to stop watching porn? Or is your weight or maybe lack of an exercise routine causing you concern? The good news is that there are hundreds of thousands like you across the country. The not-so-good news is that it takes work and effort to change. But don’t let be your reason not to do so.
Realising that you have to work on your resolution will, hopefully, help you understand why maybe you don’t get as far or as fast as your 'New Year - New You' attitude thinks you should! Change takes time and it takes a focused effort. The author Mark Twain famously said “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.”
The brain just doesn’t like change. It prefers to do what it has always done. In that way it doesn’t use up excessive energy. Our brain uses about 25 per cent of the energy we consume so any savings are good - or at least that’s what our brain thinks. Have you learnt to drive a car? If you have you’ll know the challenge of remembering clutch in before you change gears. You had to concentrate and, if you are like me, it was so difficult to remember to do everything in sequence. But now I drive almost automatically and don’t have to think much about changing gears.
So to change your habits takes concentration, perhaps a few slip ups and maybe going back to square one. But don’t beat yourself up. Focus on your goal. Remember why you are doing whatever it is you want to change.
If you slip up, shrug your shoulders and start over again. It shouldn’t be the end of the world. Try not to get depressed because if you do you may begin to think ‘Why bother’? And then probably you won’t. Which in turn may make you feel a failure and perhaps immersed you even more in whatever it was you were trying to change.
Think - 2016 is going to be a great year. Think positive. It’s the year you will give up smoking. The year you will lose weight. The year you will do more exercise. The year you will start a new relationship. The year that you’re going to change you.
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About Owen Redahan
Owen works with individuals and couples. He focuses mainly on issues around self-esteem, relationships, sexual addiction and work problems using CBT and person-focused therapies.
He has a diploma in Counselling and is Vice Chair of ATSAC (Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity). He is based in Canary Wharf, London E14.