By David Joel Miller.
You know you need something to change but what and how?
Lots of New Year’s resolutions. There are every year. But one year from now will be 2015 and just like last time around when we get to New Year’s 2015 some few people will have changed their lives and the majority will be stuck in the same rut they are in now.
Change is hard. Change is easy. You will change whether you want to or not. You will get happier, prouder and more self-confident or you will get progressively more weighted down by your problems and cares. You will change, eventually. The only questions are the direction in which you will change and when that change will occur.
Intentional change is hard because it takes effort. It can be scary. Change is often uncomfortable if not downright painful. Change means entering the unknown and the things we know are less anxiety provoking than stepping off in action and making those first tentative moves into the unknown.
Unplanned change is easy. Do nothing and you will change. We get older, no effort required. If we fail to save for retirement we have to cut back on our standard of living. The process of life says that you will change or you begin to decline.
Most of us, when we speak of change are looking for that huge dramatic shift. One day you are poor and then you will win the lottery and be rich. Lasting change does not happen that way.
Yes, some people win the lottery or make a good investment or open a business that succeeds but along the way those things rather than changing that person’s life, those are the catalysts that force them to change.
Plenty of people have won the lottery and a few years later they are back to being poor. Anyone can spend like a millionaire but learning to manage money, to hold onto it and grow it, that is a skill that takes work to develop.
Lots of us have that fairy-tale fantasy, someone will come along, usually a prince or princess, and they will make us happy. That kind of happiness only lasts a moment. Eventually, there are children, bills to pay and illnesses to suffer through together. The majority of those fairy-tale couples end in divorce when the reality sets in.
Change does not come from the outside it comes from within. As you become emotionally healthier you attract healthier people into your life. If you want a better life, start by working on yourself. Will this make the people in your life suddenly treat you better? No. But as you improve yourself you will find that their opinion of you matters less.
If you want to be wealthier you need to practice the skills wealthier people use to manage their money. Be responsible and pay bills on time. That one late charge, it does not make much difference, but over your bill paying lifetime, fifty or sixty years of monthly late charges, that amounts to a small fortune.
Increasing your income and reducing your expenses go a long way to changing your financial situation. But this will not happen overnight, not even in a month or a year. Over time the small changes you make add up.
Real lasting change in your life begins on the inside with changing yourself. Change your thoughts and actions and the world around you will begin to change.
Lasting change does not come about as a result of one huge event, it occurs in small incremental steps.
Couples often try to fix what is wrong in their relationship by taking a romantic “honeymoon” type trip, a week at the beach or in Vegas. Temporarily they see an improvement in their relationship. Most often within a week or two of returning home, they are back to their pre-trip way of interacting and they are just as dissatisfied as before.
Couples who make real improvements in their relationship begin by making changes in the way they interact. Maintaining those changes takes time and practice to have a lasting effect. A good marriage therapist can help you learn and practice those skills.
Many of you have written and told me that you want to change something in your life. You are not happy with the way things are. You have tried to change your life but the change does not seem to take.
I realize that it is easier for professionals to tell someone how to change than it is to actually do the changing. Through this year I want to talk with you readers of this blog about how to make those changes you want in your life and how to maintain those changes once you make them.
Stay tuned for some information on the books I am working on. Some things need more words than a blog post can hold.
Much of the information on recovery comes from the extensive literature on drug and alcohol recovery. Alcoholics and Drug Addicts have been recovering for a long time. Some of that information has been applied to people with “co-occurring disorders,” both mental health issues and substance use disorders. What is still in short supply is information that emphasizes the way in which people with emotional and mental health issues recover.
I strongly believe that people with mental health challenges can and do recover. Recovery for them does not necessarily mean that they are cured as if they no longer had ever had that issue, but it does mean that people can have a meaningful life despite their challenges, whatever they chose to call those challenges.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books
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- Mental Health Monsters – Depression and Anxiety (counselorssoapbox.com)
- You can recover from your mental illness (traumaanddissociation.wordpress.com)