We all get stale. Sometimes, life seems to fall into a rut. This is particularly true of depressive states, where a combination of fear and lack of energy can make new action of any sort seem impossible.
How can we create an environment where new things are more likely to happen in our lives? Examples might include when we want or need:
- a new relationship
- to move house
- a new job
- to change working habits
- to change our behaviour
- to improve our marriage/relationship
- to get through academic study
These are all things which, when enforced, cause a good deal of stress. So it’s not surprising that, when we want to do them voluntarily, our mind and body can try to avoid them.
Here are five psychological tips for making new things happen. They all rely on working with our mind and body to make change more likely.
TIP #1 – MAKE SPACE IN YOUR LIFE
How can change happen if your life is too full? It would be like trying to rearrange a full cupboard. One of the first things to do before change, is to empty out some time and space, ready for something new to come in. For example, if we want a new relationship, we had better create some free evenings. Otherwise we will always be trying to fit someone in where there is no space. If we want a new job, we will need time to interview and research. If we want to study, we will need lots of time in our timetable.
TIP #2 – LOSE ATTACHMENT
If we’re too attached to our way of doing things, too attached to our ex, too attached to our existing house… then change can’t happen very easily. It is very common to stick to past habits and people, because our minds take comfort in what is already known, even if it is bad for us. It is one of the reasons addiction are so powerful (and addictions can include people and things, not just drugs).
We need to persuade ourselves out of such attachments. We can do this partly by logical argument, but we also have to enter into new habits. For instance, we may need to remove reminders of the ‘old life’. Physically, we can dispose of, or archive, hoarded possessions. In terms of process, phone numbers, diary entries and study plans can be colour-coded or otherwise arranged to prioritise the new, so that we can see our progress in creating a new life.
TIP #3 – COMPROMISE OPINIONS
We can still keep our basic values, but we have a whole hedge of opinions around us which stops us from changing. To change more easily, we need to lose those easily dragged-out opinions which stop us compromising. For instance, couples can easily get pulled into stalemates with each other around fixed ideas – over household chores, gender roles, resource limitations. We trot out the same habitual opinions without checking whether they really hold true. To effect change, we need to start again, sometimes challenging our routine prejudices.
TIP #4 – ALLOW SOME TEMPORARY CHAOS
Depression can instil a fear of change, so that we feel the need to keep everything the same. Ironically, we can even consider the habitual mess around us good, so that we view it as orderly (to everyone else, it’s a mess!). Hoarders can find it very difficult to allow the temporary chaos which will facilitate change. They remain tightly controlled, and the house stays messy and full.
We need to practice ‘going with the flow’, relaxing our tight grip on control, and giving some control over to others who want to help us. If we are always grabbing back what we see as order, and never allowing movement, then life has no way of effecting change, and we will go stale. Watch the film Mary Poppins, and see the journey there – the transition is from stuffy order, via apparent disruption, to a new sense of liberation and imagination (see this link).
TIP #5 – GIVE RESOURCES TO CHANGE
Governments are always proposing changes in their manifesto, and then, when in power, failing to fund the changes properly. People are similar in their daily lives. We tend to over-resource our habits, and under-resource self-development.
There are many ways of resourcing change. For instance, we can:
- fund counselling or psychotherapy to support our self-development
- create time and space (see tip #2)
- create teams around us who are interested in the same changes
- create a new bank account specifically for a new project
- put out a request to friends and contacts for information and resources
- put our personal energy into change
We humans are creatures of habit, and we will resist change, given half the chance.
To give yourself the best chance:
- Make space in your life
- Lose attachments
- Compromise opinions
- Allow temporary chaos
- Give resources to change
If you are interested in using counselling for support with an important life change, you are welcome to get in touch using the contact page on this site.