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Maintaining change

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”Matthew 17 20-21 NIV


Change is hard! I hear it all the time in the counseling office,

And yet that is the very reason most people seek out a therapist. They want to change a personal issue that is creating problems or pain in their life or they want to change a relationship dynamic that is not working. So when people get stuck in unhealthy habits or patterns and say “Help, I’ve tried everything and nothing works” I get very curious about what’s going on and what maintains the current behaviors or situation.


I’ve come up with some tips that may help you maintain any positive change you are trying to make.


1.Recognize what purpose the current situation serves. Every behavior, every good or bad habit, every relationship dynamic on some level serves a need. Sometime this is hard to tease out alone but this is where therapy or support groups or prayer can bring awareness to the situation.


2. Once you find out what need the purpose serves, make an effort to meet that need in healthier ways. For instance if stress causes anger outbursts, find healthy ways to manage stress.


3. Sometimes looking for the root of an issue leads to old wounds. A person may be in a co-dependent relationship, maintaining someones problem behavior because it recreates a pattern that was once necessary for survival. Children of alcoholics or mentally ill parents often develop roles in childhood that help them to survive and keep those relationships intact. Sometimes those patterns are recreated throughout life. It is sometimes important to work on identifying and healing old wounds in order to develop new relationship skills.


4.Break down the change you want into smaller steps and work on gradual changes that you can sustain for the long run. Start out with a mustard seed size change, be consistant and watch that change start to give you the life you want.


5. Seek support and create a supportive environment. Remove (to the degree you can) the things that make it difficult to maintain your positive changes and put in elements, such as an accountability partner, reminders, or rewards that make creating those changes easier. Like planting a mustard seed, remove the weeds, the pests, add the nutrients, water and sunshine and watch the seed grow!


6. If you want to maintain positive change, work on “lifestyle changes” not temporary “white knuckle” changes. You hear this in the realm of wellness, don’t diet, change your eating habits for life. If you are making changes not just for an event or a situation but with the goal to improve your overall well being, then set goals toward creating the life you want for the long term. Think of the life you want to have, the relationship qualities you want to have, and then work on creating the habits and skills to support it.


7.Sometimes it is hard to do this alone. A good therapist, or support person or support group can help you see things you can't. They can not only help you to visualize the change you want, but figure the obstacles that get in the way, the purpose they serve and also provide the accountability when things get tough.


Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see Hebrews 11:1


This post has been written as part of the 5 minute Friday writing community. A community that writes for 5 minutes each Friday on a given prompt.

On a personal note, I am trying to work on a writing project and am trying to become more consistent in my writing in order to stick with this goal. This community is here to help support me while I support others, keep me writing consistently and in small chunks. It serves some of the above elements that help maintain change. If writing is something you’d like to explore more.Check out this community here.

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