Small Steps Toward Big Changes

“Don’t wait for your “ship to come in” and feel angry and cheated when it doesn’t. Get going with something small.”            — Irene Kassorla

 I find working with patients who are anxious, depressed or distressed about life, that it is far too common to hear them say that when they feel better, they will begin to take the necessary steps toward healthy change.  Unfortunately if that line of thinking persists, little, if any, positive change will take place.  They complain that their lives remain the same and that anything that can go wrong seems to happen to them. They further complain that other people don’t appear to experience the same bad luck. As a result, their lives consist of a continuous repetition of being unfulfilled with no positive outcome visualized.  They go around in circles ending up at the same unhappy place.

This self defeating way of life will continue until they begin to believe in themselves and the possibility of change that they first behaviorally take the necessary steps to change.  This is easier said than done for many reasons. Some of the following reasons that people do not change are;

  •  The people blame others for their unhappiness.
  •  They think it’s too hard to change.
  •  They believe that even if they did change, it would not bring the results that they are hoping for.
  • They believe that the necessary positive changes do not come about quickly enough.
  • As miserable as they feel, they are use to it and end up tolerating the intolerable.
  • They are “wired” from early childhood to behave and feel in a certain way and as a result, not capable of change.
  • They believe that in order to change, they have to cognitively feel differently  before they can behaviorally make the change.
  • Believe it or not, many experience secondary gains to being miserable

All these and more become indictments that their lives will remain the same.  What many fail to realize is that change does not come in one fell swoop but in many small steps that are slight stretches beyond one’s comfort zone but not too much of a stretch that it causes great discomfort.  Also, often behavioral change comes before the feeling, belief or full motivation to change.  In these cases, people need to “fake it, before they make it”.  When risking small changes in spite of the fears, engrained habits or resistance, results in an altered experience. This altered experience results in a sense of completion and accomplishment that acts as building blocks in achieving the goal of an improved quality of life.

Therefore, less defeatist, negative thinking and get going with something that is small and doable.  Before long, the result can be something less difficult and more doable than ever imagined.