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Making difficult change requires GPS

Posted by Sara Levitsky on Saturday, March 30, 2013 Under: Coping Tools

 I love a good metaphor.  I use metaphors when talking with clients all the time.   

During the past week I have used one metaphor several times.  It relates to making change.  When trying to change our reactions or behaviors, we have to use GPS and can't rely on our auto-pilot.

You know how sometimes when you're driving a familiar route - say from work to home, or from home to the grocery store - and you end up at your destination and can't even remember the actual driving - like you drove there on auto-pilot?  We often use that same auto-pilot when we are having a disagreement with our partner, or when we are disciplining our children, or even when we are making decisions about food or substances.  If we use auto-pilot in those situations, we are denying ourselves the opportunity to make change.  We automatically disagree, or yell, or binge eat, or restrict food, or abuse a substance, according to our current pattern.

To make change in those situations, we can think of them as new territory or places we aren't familiar travelling to.  When we are driving to new places, we need to stay conscious, and often have to consult a map, or listen to GPS.  We need to be deliberate and use tools to get there.  Trying to react or behave in new ways requires us to be conscious and deliberate in order to have different outcomes.  GPS in this scenario might be cognitive tools like positive self talk or journaling, or relaxation tools like breathing or visualization, or behavioral tools like taking time away or yelling into a pillow or writing our feelings down.

When it comes to change in mental health, it doesn't just happen to us.  We need to make it happen.  And if we are on auto-pilot we might just keep ending up at the same place.   

photo credit:graurrazvanionut/ 

In : Coping Tools 

Tags: tools 
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