Making Changes in Small Psychological Steps


Many of us can read forever about the many ways we should make changes, but they are often particularly difficult to enact. How much easier it is to be a couch potato wolfing down unhealthy foods and beverages than to find the discipline to make some changes for our bodies' sake! More often than not, we are prone to make a grand gesture of change such as: "tomorrow I'll give up all alcohol forever and exercise for 90 minutes every day" without the awareness that those two major changes would take many months or years for even a highly disciplined person to accomplish. A few hours after we enact such an impossible program, we discard it like last New Year's resolutions. We can then blame (Stage II) our failure on advertising, agribusiness, the white male patriarchy, a hated political party, our abusive parents, etc. Or we can reinforce our own lack of self-esteem by considering ourselves a failure. Instead of blaming ourselves or others, it would be far healthier and more effective to self-talk along the lines of "I tried that and it didn't work - now I'll try something different" (Stage IV).


The average two-year-old is a great beacon for emotional health, displaying a full range of emotions and moving beyond them once they are expressed.

What works best in effecting personal changes is most often a series of small steps instead of a grand gesture attempting major sudden transformation. Remember how a baby starts to walk? A baby takes one very shaky step at a time accompanied by a big wide grin. One reason for the success of 12-Step programs like AA, Al-Anon and Overeater's Anonymous is that they emphasize one-day-at-a-time rather than a goal of "sobriety forever." Therefore, when you use this book, I suggest small steps, also the necessity for patience, self-compassion and small amounts of discipline.

Next Excerpt  

Assertiveness not aggressiveness is the way to change others. Do you know the difference?

More Excerpts This Chapter
   STAGES OF HEALING
   MAKING CHANGES IN SMALL STEPS (Stage IVa above)
   "IMPOSSIBLE" SUCCESSES
   PROCRASTINATION
   A PERSONAL EXAMPLE
   CHANGING OTHERS EFFECTIVELY
   A LOUSY WAY OF MAKING CHANGES = SELF CRITICISM


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