Center for Shared Insight, PC

Big Changes Start Small

June 12, 2018
Posted By: Kristen Hick, Psy.D.

Maybe you are contemplating a major life change. It could be a new job, change in relationship status, or a habit you want to overcome. No matter what you are trying to shift in your life, it’s important to recognize that change happens in phases and in small steps.

If you are struggling with change, it’s most likely due to the fact that change is challenging because you, and nearly all of us, are addicted to your patterns or the way you have been doing things. Identifying these patterns and taking small steps to alter them can help to set you up for successful large-scale change.

To make change easier to manage, start with some simple strategies and practices we’ll discuss in this post.

Doing anything differently

It might seem simple but it’s always a powerful reminder: Doing different things will help you do things differently. Likewise, doing the same thing as you’ve always done, will not change a thing. So, when you are trying to change a habit, such as unwinding with a cocktail every night after work, try doing something different to help you re-pattern and replace your previous habit with a healthier one. The key is to choose an activity that you sincerely enjoy and can look forward to. Maybe it’s taking a walk with a neighbor after work, having tea or a mocktail to quench your thirst, or attending a yoga class. Ask yourself which activities could genuinely become sustainable rituals in your life.

These new choices don’t have to be profound shifts. Something as simple as getting up thirty minutes earlier every day and doing some light stretching before you start your day can help you practice the process of change and build success. Stimulating your mind and body with different activities will help you become more creative and free to make decisions in your life differently.

Make new associations

You probably associate places and activities in your life with certain feelings and emotions. If you are trying to change a relationship, perhaps leaving an unhealthy one, it’s important to create new associations in order to really let go. For instance, if you recently ended a relationship and are working through the inevitable changes that come along with that transition, you might identify that you have the most difficult time being without that previous partner on Saturday nights. Maybe Saturday nights were your regular date night and despite the relationship needing to end for other reasons, you always looked forward to going out on Saturday nights together.

Making a new association with Saturday evenings will be important to successfully let go and work through the grieving process. Maybe this means you round up your friends and make Saturday evenings a girls or guys night for awhile, or join a meetup group that regularly hosts weekend evening activities. Maybe Saturday evening now becomes your evening of self-care and you fill the time with yoga, cooking, movies, reading, and other nurturing activities. As you make new associations, you’ll also link new, different emotions to those activities, which will help you move on and change in the ways you desire. Making new associations is a small tactic that can help facilitate greater change – like finally letting go of a relationship that you know in your heart isn’t good for you.

Put a support system in place

While doing simple things differently and making new associations will help shift your mindset, those changes won’t be permanent without enough support. Friends and family can serve as a support system in the short-term, but don’t have the tools and bandwidth to give you the level and depth of support you need long-term. One of the benefits of therapy is having regular, candid, professional insight into your patterns and behaviors as you work to shift them.  Whether you are getting through a breakup, dealing with anxiety, wanting to sleep better, contemplating a divorce, or struggling with your own self-worth, therapy can help get you unstuck in repetitive thinking patterns. It can help facilitate change.

Contact our team of therapists to learn how we can help support the change you desire in your life.

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