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Making Life Changes You Won't Abandon
by Cate Russell-Cole
10/19/2015 / Christian Living
As a teenager I was always scared of change. Somehow the concept had come to only represent events that were destructive. I couldn't cope. I would even become insecure if my family rearranged my bedroom. I needed to have familiar, constant physical and emotional surroundings to be secure. Thank God my life has improved considerably since that time. Changes now don't hold as much fear for me, even ones that initially appear negative. There is always an opportunity to take a step forward into something better, a lesson to be learned, and also the proverbial silver lining on the dark cloud.
When I studied psychology and counselling I learnt how to make successful changes. I discovered common sense principles of being able to state what you wanted to change, assessing whether or not the physical and emotional resources were available, and enlisting support. There was considerable training given on goal setting: write them down or they will never happen. If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time. It was all excellent food for thought, however, the actual achievement of successful change always seemed to be elusive.
We can all identify many areas of our lives which we would like to change. The most effective changes that are made seem to be the small consistent ones. I have watched interviews with the authors of self-help books who now advise us to change just one small facet of our lives at a time. If you change one small area successfully, they say, the rest will eventually follow in good time. For example, to reduce stress just take a fifteen minute break for yourself once or twice a week. Go for a walk, read a book, write in your journal, schedule coffee with friends. You don't need to meditate for an hour morning and night, exercise religiously and breathe deep every hour on the hour. No one can meet those demands instantly. Small changes can be life enriching. They can release more energy and positivity to enable you to start to make the bigger changes.
Trying to do everything helpful at once, such as exercise, give up smoking, change diet, change sleep pattern and breathe deeply on the hour every hour will probably not happen long term. It's too much to get a handle on at once. Pick one; work on it until it becomes a good habit, then add another.
Making change slowly, one step at a time, appears a better method than trying to revolutionise our lives, then facing discouragement and failure. The same principle applies for relationships that need mending. You can strengthen your marriage by doing little things that will make a difference, such as making an effort to focus on what your partner has done right rather than wrong. John Gray, author of "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" states "...Quite often, when one partner makes a positive change the other will also change." Small details which we overlook and perhaps take for granted, can add extra life and appreciation to a relationship.
"Wellness and Writing Connections" on Facebook made a great point about looking making goals. (http://www.facebook.com/WellnessWriting) To quote the page author, "Writing a list of the things we would like to see more of in our life is a common theme in resolutions. What if we also make a list of things we want to leave out?" What if your major goal was to resist things that pull you down emotionally? That can make a massive change to your quality of life. What if it is to gently pull back from a bad friendship and set yourself free from it's poor influences? Sometimes knowing what you don't want is as important as knowing what you want.
In the end, no matter how great or small the change we have to face or make, or how lost, bewildered or alone we may feel, there is always One to whom we can turn. He is available and able to give us unlimited support and help. "He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might, He increases strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:29 and 31
This article by Cate Russell-Cole is under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Written in Australian English.
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