It’s that time of year where most people are talking change. It’s also the time of year where most people experience shame and disappointment around yet another failed New Year’s resolution.It goes something like this…You talk a good game with great intentions, but somewhere in the change process things get lost in translation. It starts off so well. You are following through with exercising every day, eating breakfast that matches your metabolic type and limiting your alcohol use. Just like you said you would. However, by the end of the second week, you are beginning to slip; work, the kids and other projects start to take precedent over your goal to make this the year of being health conscious and drinking less. Your enthusiasm is fading quickly, and you find yourself stressed and thinking, “Change isn’t possible for me.”
The situation just described happens far too often; so what happened? Well, among other factors there’s a perfectly good reason for all of this. It’s called Ecology.Ecology is one of the key factors that determines whether you will achieve the change you want in your life or not. In order to implement and sustain the change you want, you must make sure that love, safety and belonging are intact. Love, safety and belonging represent the three human needs that people want to experience at all times. If one or all of these needs would be jeopardized by your change, guess what? You probably won’t change. Love, safety and belonging are so valuable that they trump your good intentions and will drive you to recreate familiar experiences you know you can survive. Great function for love, safety and belonging but not a great strategy for change.The good news is that change can happen.
In fact, lasting change becomes more likely by addressing ecology while implementing a change. In order to achieve the change you want, you have to make sure it is ecologically safe to make your change. So how do you do that?Approach your ecology by:
1. Starting with a stance of curiosity and compassion. Your system is actually doing exactly what it’s meant to do. If all behaviors have a positive intention, find the positive intention behind the current behavior you are trying to change. Ask yourself, “What are the good aspects of my current behavior?”
2. Keeping what you like. You don’t have to change it all or give it all up. Keep what is working and modify the rest. Often times, we are working with an old pattern that once served us but now needs an upgrade. Ask yourself, “How can I keep the good aspects of my behavior while making the change I want?”
3. Seeing the impact your change would have on others. This may be positive or this may be negative. It’s important to think through how your change will impact those closest to you so can unpack any perceived problems. Ask yourself, “How will my change affect those around me?”
Change is possible when you set yourself up for success. By approaching your ecology with these strategies and questions, you will support yourself in rewriting your ecological map so that you can increase your chances for achieving your desired change while keeping love, safety and belonging intact. The ecological approach offers a win-win that will finally give you a chance for meaningful change that sustains.
Beverly Sartain, M.A. CADCII, is a Recovery Life Coach who shows people how to use spiritual tools and techniques to make conscious change. Learn more about Bev at Recovery Life Management.
About C.A.R.I.: C.A.R.I. provides guidance on intervention, detox, drug and alcohol rehab options in North County of San Diego, including the cities of Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Vista, San Marcos and Rancho Santa Fe. We help not only the people who struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, but also their families and loved ones. Our program accepts PPO insurance from insurance providers such as Cigna, Aetna, UBH, Optum, Magellan and Value.