Spring is upon us and many are consumed with cleaning out their homes, gardens, sorting through their belongings, discarding unused items, planning summer vacations, registering for camp, etc. So how about doing some spring cleaning for your emotional baggage?
Perhaps the most common theme heard in individuals presenting for services is the desire for change on some level – in themselves, their spouses, their children, and/or their families. They have become overwhelmed by certain occurrences and need assistance toresolve these issues to restore stability back into their lives. So what better time than now to get it done; out with the old maladaptive ways, in with new healthier ones. From my experience, the only way to achieve wanted change is by doing something different – “if you always do what you always did – you’ll always get what you always got” – author unknown. Understanding this is one thing, doing it is another. Why is this task so difficult to achieve? First, you need toask yourself – just as the seasons change, how do you deal with change large or small? Do you see change as something to embrace or run from, a challenge or fear? What are you afraid of?
Hesitation often stems from the very notion of change. It often involves some heavy stuff - letting go of anger, assumptions, blame, allowing for forgiveness, second chances, acceptance, finding a different way to express oneself, and perhaps the most difficult aspect - looking at our own contributing behaviors that maintain certain problems. For many, this means being willing to go outside of one’s comfort zone to look for the answers and be creative. Too much work? Why bother? The answer lies in the idea that one of the only constants in life is change and one needs to be well versed in this arena to be able to function effectively throughout life whether it be at work or in our relationships. Along with this idea, is the basic systemic tenet that if you change even on a very small level, you will inevitably see others change in reaction to your change.
Here are some examples:
Give it a try – "you have nothing to lose" - except for some useless, unproductive patterns "and everything to gain" - a healthier, cleaner you.
When at work – instead of complaining about an ineffective system, suggest ways for improvement.
When at home with your partner – instead of responding with anger, express your feelings - did I hear you correctly?
When at home with your child/children - instead of yelling, speak calmly.
Teresa A Milano, LMFT