Stop trying to change!

Have you spent several years trying to change a behaviour or thought pattern? How you feel or what you believe? How many books do you have on your shelf that offered you the latest 'guaranteed' change strategy? How many of them are unread? Here is my advice to you. Stop trying to change!

I spent years trying to do just this and I want to save you the time and trouble that I went through. Most of this massive business involving books magazines and online help is based on not liking yourself in the first place. Most of not liking yourself is based on not accepting the idea that we all have the potential to be selfish rude aggressive and hopeless.

The answer does not lie in changing yourself but in accessing the resources you already have.

When a part of us is acting out a lot and is unattractive to ourselves and those around us, one of the worst things we can do is to demand that we stop it or act differently. Firstly this opens us up to what I call the 'trap of success and failure'.

Secondly, and in some ways more seriously, in trying to ‘be something different’ you are much more likely to get an imitation of the state you want to be in.

Let's take an example. Say you are often angry and act out with a nasty tongue. If you say to yourself "I mustn't be so angry. Look at what people think of me. I must be calm" You are likely to say this to yourself when your angry 'part' is acting as your representative. The most likely outcome is that your angry part learns to 'imitate' calmness.

So, even though you are trying to do a good thing and change yourself, you have produced an even more unhealthy situation and you are further from your authentic self.

We can use this approach only when we realise that, whatever that ‘part’ of our personality has us doing, it’s actually trying to help! Not to make things worse. Once we realise this we can develop some empathy for all the parts of our personality and stop hating them for showing up! When we hate a part of us we create inner conflict and we cannot shift in that state. Imagine two wrestlers grappling with each other and trying to leave the ring at the same time.

Try working with yourself rather than against yourself. Creating inner harmony rather than conflict. Instead of trying to hide or expel this part of you, try to get to know it better. Ask yourself "what do I think of this part of me"? And look at your experience and ask “how old is this part”? And even ask the part of you "What are you protecting me from when you turn up angry"? This question assumes that your parts are always trying to help you and begins a journey of inner harmony where you appreciate the efforts of all aspects of your personality.

Instead of trying to be a leopard and change your spots, consider locating and using the resources you already have! If you find that, similar to my example, you are ‘triggered’ into difficult states by circumstances such as anger. Think of this as a learned reaction of a younger part of you stepping in to help.

To recognise these triggered state look for these three things. Their strategies will always be naive radical and about ‘now’. In other words it will feel like you lost your wisdom, your sense of proportion and your understanding of consequences. Just what you would expect from a child offering answers to a grown up situation. But if you came home and your child was making a big mess because they were trying to help you, you wouldn’t condemn them! You would appreciate their efforts (and then clean up after them).  

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

Share this article with a friend

Written by Dave Cooper

Dave Cooper is a specialist recovery therapist and runs the A2R program (alternative to rehab) which offers busy professionals an effective treatment without having to go to residential rehab. See my site for more information http://www.davecoopercounselling.org.uk/category/building-recovery/planning/… Read more

Written by Dave Cooper

Show comments

Find the right counsellor or therapist for you

All therapists are verified professionals.