We are all familiar with the concept that on January 1st we should all magically be able to change habits or behaviours that we struggle with, and adopt new ‘better' habits almost overnight.
Most habits that we look to change will contribute in some way to a healthier overall lifestyle - whether that is increasing exercise, reducing stress, improving our relationships or any other so it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that they will be easy habits to adopt because they are good for us.
Change can be a messy, painful, long winded process - but at the same time it is almost always completely worth it, assuming that you are wanting to change for yourself and not because you feel you should.
Creating lasting change
When it comes to changing habits and behaviours, it is easy to lay the blame at the feet of other people - you would be able to change this, if they didn't do that.
As cliche as it may sound, true change comes from within - only you can be the one to truly change yourself. While it can feel freeing in a way to feel like negative behaviours are not your fault, it leads to you feeling like your ability, or inability, to create effective change in your life is at the mercy of external influences. This can leave you feeling powerless to make any change at all. When you truly understand that only you can be the one to
Knowing that you need to create change in your life is one thing. Actually creating change that can last is another matter entirely.
Almost all of us can create temporary change - a short term fix that does nothing to truly fix the issues we have come up against and only serves to leave us feeling frustrated in the longer term.
Creating long term change comes in two parts - identifying why we are feeling a way that we want to change, and then working on this. This can, understandably, be tricky. Often it is easier to look externally for reasons that we have behaviours we want to change - blaming someone else is a less painful route than working to understand ourselves, but shifting the blame away from yourself and onto someone else does nothing to solve the problem.
Working with a counsellor can help you work through these seemingly simple steps in a deeper, more focused way, and help you find clarity. An outside view can often mean that you are forced to look at habits or behaviours that you would have skipped over if you were doing the work by yourself - and help you to understand how to change.
Accepting ourselves and our behaviour
Self acceptance is hard. Accepting yourself as you are, warts and all, can be incredibly tricky for a huge number of us. While we can all accept the parts of ourselves that we consider positive, accepting the attributes that we consider less desirable, or even entirely negative can be a far harder process.
Your worth is more than the sum total of physical attributes and your personality traits - self acceptance helps us to understand this, and truly believe it. It can make us less susceptible to criticism and can actually help us to improve the aspects of ourselves that we like less than others due to placing little or no emotional value on our weaknesses. They simply ‘are'.
A lack of self awareness can mean that you focus on your negative, or less desirable, traits more than you focus on the positive ones. This in turn can mean that you spend more time in a negative frame of mind which can, in the long run, lead to increased stress or anxiety levels.
Self compassion and the ability to forgive yourself are important tools in the process of changing behaviours. Understanding that it may be a long road, forgiving yourself if you slip up and treating yourself with compassion can make a tricky process less emotionally draining. It can help you learn to treat yourself like an enemy to be broken down, and more like a good friend who needs kindness and understanding.
A counsellor can be an invaluable source of wisdom and support on your journey to self acceptance and habit changing. An outside person who doesn't see every last thought and emotion, and who can help you to see that these things do not define you, or make you a different person. Having the support of a counsellor can allow you to explore negative feelings in a safe space, and give you the reassurance that you're on the right path even when you're unsure.
If you would like to find out more about how I can help you on your path to self acceptance, or if you need some support in changing habits, contact me on 07305 920 437.