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Feature article – Catch the Spirit of Change

Why do we make resolutions? Because we want things to be different. Why do our resolutions sometimes fail? Because we don't want to change.
Change takes us into new territory and opens us up to the unknown, and that feels like too big of a risk sometimes. Even if we're uncomfortable or unhappy with how things are, at least they're familiar.
When you can catch the spirit of change, you gain a new perspective. You can eagerly list things that you want to change about your life, the same way you may have previously listed your resolutions. You can be much more specific when you commit to make a change, and that increases your chances of success.
As an example, my resolution might be to spend more quality time with family members this year. That is a general goal, but I can get more specific if I decide exactly what I'm going to change. How about this? Instead of being on the computer, one evening a week I will watch favorite television shows or a movie with my family so we can sit together and laugh, talk and simply be together.
Some important things to remember about change:
  • All you can change is yourself – you can't change or control anyone else's words, thoughts or actions
  • People around you may react to your changes in different ways – both supportive and challenging
  • Before you can change something, you need to acknowledge what it's like now
  • The more you can plan and envision your new way of life, the easier it will be to manifest
  • Everyone goes through the Stages of Change at their own pace – give yourself enough time and space
  • Start with small changes and build from there – if you're not ready to change your overeating or restricting behaviors, a small change might be to have one fresh fruit or vegetable every day
  • You can also change your perspective of outside changes or losses in your life, seeing them as valuable stepping stones to your own growth and healing  
While the support of a therapist can be crucial as you're working towards change, creative modalities like art and writing can also be very helpful. There is something very cathartic about getting away from the computer, putting words or images to paper and seeing what is revealed there.
Change isn't going anywhere. If you accept that and look for opportunities to make specific changes instead of general resolutions, you can catch the spirit of change and put it to work in your own healing journey.
Here are a few closing words about change from some wise sources:
"Nothing endures but change." – Heraclitus
"When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us." - Alexander Graham Bell
"When you're through changing, you are through." – Bruce Barton
"Change always comes bearing gifts." - Price Pritchett
"We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves." - Lynn Hall
"Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights." - Pauline R. Kezer
"The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them." - George Bernard Shaw
Some resources on this topic...
Necessary Losses by Judith Viorst is a book about how we grow and change through the losses that are an inevitable and necessary part of life.