April 24, 2014 by Angus
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Change part 1: Have you got your 2% today?

The idea of change is endlessly fascinating. Thinking about changing or coming to treatment can be scary.

We start with the assumption that we are ambivalent about change. Part of us wants to change but part of us doesn’t. We may have beliefs about the change process itself as well as the behaviour or situation we are thinking about changing.

What do you think might be some beliefs you may have about the change process that may help or hinder you?

Do we think the process is easy? Why or why not?

What are the challenges in changing?

Common beliefs that we have come across over the years are regarding the change process in general:

  • I don’t have enough time to work on my problems
  • The therapy didn’t suit me / what I tried before didn’t work so why would this time be any different
  • It hasn’t been a top priority – I’ve had more important things to do
  • I don’t know where to start
  • My problems aren’t as important as other people’s problems
  • It’s hard to keep going when you’re not sure it’s going to work
  • It’s not so bad that I really need to change
  • You can’t teach an old dog new tricks…. I’ve been this way for so many years already
  • I don’t have the resources or money to change
  • It’s impossible or too hard to change
  • I don’t know what will happen if things change
  • I don’t think I’m brave enough to change
  • The people around me stop me from changing
  • I don’t want to have to deal with it
  • If I change I have to admit I was living my life in a dysfunctional way and feel the pain of all the lost opportunities and wasted years
  • I’ll become a different person and lose all my friends

If you hold some of these beliefs, no wonder the change process feels daunting!

An often overlooked question is: what are some of the bad things about changing or benefits of staying the same?

Again some of the common answers we have heard are:

  • It would be easier to not have to go through all of this.
  • It is the devil I know, and so is comfortable to a degree, It is what I’m used to.
  • I can avoid situations that make me think about my problem.
  • I don’t have to acknowledge that I have a problem.
  • If I keep to the behaviours I know to be safe, there is less chance that people will notice my problem.
  • Changing my routine is daunting.
  • Change may require a lot of hard work and mental effort.
  • By avoiding change, I don’t risk failing in the process

When people think about changing, they often don’t consider “all sides” in a complete way. Thinking through the pros and cons of both changing and staying the same is one way to help you fully consider a possible change and be aware of the invisible pull of staying the same.

Are there other ways we can look at the change process to try to undercut any of these beliefs that might have derailed us in the past?

Many people think they have to make superhuman changes to “catch up” and then after a few goes feel like the “home run” is out of reach and give up.

An analogy about change that we might use here to create an alternate narrative around change and what is possible might be useful. If we think of the concept of compound interest.

Investing $1000 at 10% per year will mean your money will be worth $1100 at the end of one year. At the end of the second year the interest will be 10% of $1100 which is $110 and so on. This is the principle of compound interest.

In our particular situation let us start with the proposition that we can make a 2% change in our life on a daily basis through therapy processes.Does a 2% change per day (whatever that means, we don’t have to be specific) seem completely unreasonable?Let’s look at what 2% change per day can add up to after a year using money as an example.

If we invested $1000 that earned 2% interest per day (for those of you mathematically inclined: 1000* 1.01 ^365) at the end of the year that $1000 would now be worth $1 377 408.   That’s $1.3 million dollars. Not a bad return on your investment!

The point that we are making here is that disciplined attentional focus to small changes can add up to potentially remarkable overall changes in a relatively short period of time.

Quote: "Sometimes in the wave of change we find our true direction."

Have you got your 2% today?

Clinical Psychologist Sydney

We specialise in evidence based treatments for relieving psychological distress such as anxiety, stress and depression. We also excel in helping people create lasting, powerful change in career, business and life. Find out more

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