Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life

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By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC

A brand new year presents many opportunities to help our children with the challenges that come their way. One of the things we may not think about is the importance of continually growing and making changes in our lives as individuals. Our children learn by watching us. In fact, most children talk about their own New Year’s resolutions by watching and listening to their parents as they discuss their personal resolutions. Mentoring for our children that change is difficult, but not insurmountable, is best done with actions, not words. Reminding your children that self-talk such as, “can’t” or “it’s too difficult,” can be overcome by saying new and stronger self-talk such as, “I can do this” and “I will make these changes.”

If you are trying to make changes, no matter what area they are in, the first work you have to do is clear your mind of the “I cant’s.” To help you get rid of the old thoughts that keep you stuck in the rut of can’t, try these tips.

No matter what your goal or change is, if you pay attention closely, you will notice there are other areas that you sabotage as well. For example, if you eat to find comfort, you may also notice you have a lot of drama in your life that needs emotional comforting. Before you can stop the drama in your life, you will need to understand prior to eating what you are feeling. Ask yourself what the feeling of pain is that you are trying to fill. You may find past feelings of loneliness, abandonment or neglect.

Slow down. Moving too fast with our thoughts and expectations causes us to fall off track. This happens in dating, in teaching our children, and in expecting our partner to change after years of marriage. Going slowly gives us the advantage of understanding why we sabotage our plans so we can fix them as they occur. If you are planning on losing weight, removing toxic friends from your life or improving your marriage, allow at least six months to see improvements. Slowing down also helps us use more of our brain capacity.
Forgive yourself and others for your past excuses, mistakes and selfishness. Your brain is so much more useful when you live in the now. Most of the negative patterns people continually fall into are due to their inability to live in the now and make the necessary changes at this time and this moment.

Old patterns are difficult to break, and no matter what negative pattern you are trying to extinguish, you will fall off track once in a while. This is to be expected, and rather than going back and shaming yourself, try to catch yourself and ask yourself what good this food, relationship, or whatever old pattern you are trying to break free from will do for you. Rather than indulging in the old pattern, try breathing through the moment or distract yourself with exercise, calling a friend, or getting away from the situation you are in. Being proactive at times of weakness helps you accomplish your goal leading to increased confidence that you are breaking free of your old rut.

When you change your thoughts, you change your life, your children’s lives, and the lives of every person who you connect with.

Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at www.StartTalkingBook.com and more about Rapini at www.maryjorapini.com.