How many of us set ourselves unrealistic or over-ambitious goals each year on January 1st? We frame these as new year’s resolutions often only to stumble at the first hurdle.
But why is altering our habits, or more broadly committing to change, so hard for so many of us? Perhaps it’s because we haven’t chosen simple and sustainable habits to alter. Perhaps it’s because our motivation and attention wane. If we don’t have the necessary advice, support and community in place to help us, then we struggle to truly succeed.
To introduce a little bit of theory, The Psychology of Habit-Formation can be boiled down to these three simple steps:
- The Initiation Phase: where we select the habit we want to change and how we’re going to do it.
- The Learning Phase: where we simply repeat, repeat, repeat. Same time, same way, over and over again.
- The Stability Phase: where our new habit has formed over time and its strength has stabilised.
But the crux of any meaningful change comes from truly wanting it. Self-determination and personal value are key. Doing something because we feel we ought to is not the same as genuinely desiring to. And figuring out what we need and want to change often requires help. Because what’s the most complex and wonderful thing to try and understand? Ourself.
In ancient Roman mythology, Janus was thought to be the god with two faces; looking both back upon the past and forward towards the future. This ability to reflect and project is something we are all capable of when we allow ourselves the time and space to do so, and not just in January.
Growth and grief are intertwined. Many of us who have felt the effects of relationship breakdown and family separation have found it to be a period of intense rumination about both the past and the future. So, what as mere mortals do we require to move beyond contemplation into positive action? Seeking counsel can be a pretty good place to find out.
Talking Therapies, or Counselling provides us with the safe, balanced space to reflect on our previous experiences and behaviours, how they’ve impacted our current circumstances and then plan what we may need to enable us to move forward into a more hope-filled future. The structure of counselling echoes the learning phase of habit-formation by sessions occurring at the same interval, in the same context over an extended period of time. Plus it’s tailored to suit the way you feel, think and learn.
Therapy isn’t something we need only access at points of personal crisis. It is an ongoing investment in ourselves. It can be utilised as a preventative tool as much as a recovery aid, and is sincerely focused on implementing helpful habits. The “Ripple Effect” on our wider lives and relationships is one of the most powerful changes it facilitates.
Dr. Emily Analt states in ‘Why We Should All Try Therapy’, “…no world-class athlete has ever reached their full potential without a coach. So why do we expect to reach our emotional potential by ourselves?” Hard to argue with, right?
It brings strength and stability, choice and relief. Approach it with curiousity and an open mind. It’s far better felt than it is explained. Think about therapy as the foundations that have the potential to support all future resolutions made any day of the year.
As a first simple, achievable goal, why not set aside ten minutes to watch her TED Talk and decide for yourself.
Here at DU we have a team of dedicated mental health counsellors ready to support you if things feel tough, or if you simply want to improve your mental fitness for yourself and those around you.
To find out whether counselling might work for you, get in touch. We can arrange an initial non-clinical, no pressure chat. It’s a confidential service. Please call us on 01233 680150 or email firstname.lastname@example.org