mental health, Mind-Body Medicine

New Year, New You: Accomplish Your Resolution by Using “Change Talk”

The new year is only just upon us, and everyone’s talking resolutions — making change for a better you, and a better year in 2019. And I must say, I’m absolutely delighted by all the change talk I’m hearing.

TALK THE TALK

Change talk?

It’s a term doctors and psychologists use to describe language and phrases uttered by our patients that indicate to us that they’re thinking about change.

And we love hearing it. After all, patients visit their doctors looking for help in changing all sorts of health behaviours — smoking, drinking too much, moving too little, stressing way too much. These changes can be tricky to make, but thinking your change thoughts out loud is one of the first steps in manifesting actual change. Doctors counsel patients using a practice called “motivational interviewing,” and harnessing change talk is a big part of this process. Patients who undergo motivational interviewing are significantly more likely to have success in accomplishing their change.

YOU NEED TO WANT IT

Change talk can take all sorts of forms, but one of its easiest aspects to identify and harness is: desire. Think of it this way: if you’re going to make change, you need to want it — really want it.

So, what do you desire? For some, this answer may be at the forefront of their mind. Others may draw a blank. Think about your health, your life in general. What things do you love about your life? What things do you wish you could unload or stop doing altogether? What do you do that’s positive for your health? What do you do that your doctor would advise against?

Can you identify a behaviour that’s not producing positivity in your life, that’s working against your health, something that you’d like to change?

Meditate on it. Journal about it. Imagine: what if? Picture what your perfect life looks like. Once you’ve identified it, write it down. Say it out loud. Really grasp it in your mind.

DON’T BE A NEGATIVE NANCY

So, you’ve identified the change you want to make. As human beings, one of our tragic flaws is that, when there’s a behaviour we’re looking at that needs changing, we often focus on the negatives. We think and talk about how a certain behaviour causes us unhappiness or unease.

Let’s choose an example that’s on a lot of people’s minds these days: reducing stress. Many of us want to say “so long” to stress, and breathe easier. You’ve likely heard someone talk about how stress adversely affects their life, or even had these thoughts yourself:

“I feel tense.”

“I’m angry and I take it out on my friends and family.”

“I worry a lot.”

“It takes over. I can’t focus on the good things in my life.”

“I know it’s bad for my health.”

These thoughts may be true, but the trouble is, they’re not helpful. They’re not uplifting or motivating. They’re just downright depressing.

THINK POSITIVE

One of the keys to motivating yourself to change is to turn these thoughts into uplifting, positive ones. Imagine what would be better about your life if you changed your behaviour.

Conjure up thoughts that start with these types of phrases…

“I like…”

“I enjoy…”

Going back to our stress example, imagine your stress-free life. What does it look like? How do you feel?

“I like the way I feel. I have less neck pain, fewer tension headaches.”

“I like that my body feels so relaxed.”

“I enjoy spending time with my friends and family more. They want to be around me. We all enjoy one another’s company.”

“I’m able to appreciate what I do have — my health, my friends.”

“I like that I’ve done something positive for my health, I’ll live longer.”

Spend a few moments each day thinking these positive change thoughts. Tease them out. Clearly visualize your new self, your changed behaviour.

TURN DREAMS INTO REALITY

Now you know one of the first secrets to bringing about positive change. You’re ready.

So this year, really dedicate some time and thought in making your resolutions. Take a week, two weeks, or longer. Imagine your best self, your ideal life. Really think about what change you could make that would make you happiest, healthiest, and able to enjoy your life to its fullest. 

Then, bring it to life.

Some people make a vision board.

Some journal it.

Some meditate.

Some manifest (think a little magic).

Go with what works for you. Keep it up. Thinking positive change thoughts and talking positive change talk are some of the first steps in being your best self yet. 

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