Finally. A new year. A clean slate. You’ve set your intentions.
Here’s how change works:
Change is not a decision; it’s a process. Researchers Prochaska and DiClemente list 5 stages of change: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. Change doesn’t happen through will-power, it happens by traversing back and forth between these stages, learning valuable lessons about ourselves along the way.
We all have built in defense mechanisms against change. Freud enumerated hundreds of ways people resist what they want; though it often boils down to an unconscious wish or fear. In therapy, we can gain insight into our internal blocks—and learn to outsmart them.
All habits, good or bad, serve a function. Goals for the new year should meet your actual core needs if they are going to last. This involves looking at our fears, self-doubt or shame directly, leaning into it instead of avoiding it—which will take the power away from those emotions. This way, you can be driven by your aspirations and not the avoidance of fear.
When we let go of old habits, it’s normal to feel irritable, restless, empty, or even depressed. These feelings are all temporary and part of the process. Support groups or therapy will also help to move you through the toughest part of change.
This New Year, approach your change process with self-compassion. Embrace the reality of set-backs and allow yourself to go through the stages of change with curiosity about who you are. Grab a journal and a meditation cushion and let the journey begin.
Dr. Engler's Articles on the Huffington Post:
Should You Get Pre-marital Counseling?
Women's Health Magazine interviews Dr. Engler on the factors to consider.
Why Moving in Together Kills Your Sex Life, and What to Do About It.
Men's Health Magazine interviews Dr. Engler about how to improve your sex life, and reviews her book, "The Men on My Couch."
11 Things That Actually Surprised This Sex Therapist.
BuzzFeed reviews Dr. Engler's new book, "The Women on My Couch."