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New Year and Another Way to Change

New Year, a clean slate and time to overburden ourselves with multiple New Year’s Resolutions. “I vow to spend more time with my family, be more diligent at work, exercise every day, eat more salad and read more significant books.” Typically, lethargy and disappointment set in within a few weeks and life returns to normal. Nothing changes.

Change is central to the work we do and those who consult us do so because their best efforts to improve their lives have failed. Traditionally, we replicate the New Year’s Resolutions approach where we suggest people do more and new things to improve their lot. We may set up a program or ask them to add additional actions to an already overburdened life. Many of our clients start energetically but soon become overwhelmed. Nothing changes.

Robinson (2022) proposes that cessation rather than action may be a better way to produce lasting change. ‘This involves an individual or a relationship ceasing something they currently do, think, feel, or believe, by removing something from the repetitive cycle of interaction between the people in that relational system.  Cessation can make a significant difference and that difference may, at times, be similar, in terms of its change effect, to the difference made by introducing something new.’ In addition, cessation naturally simplifies an overburdened system by removing key elements rather than adding more.

So instead of making a list of all those things we may never successfully achieve it may be more helpful to decide one thing we are going to remove that will make a difference. Perhaps we will decide to give up sitting still for hours on end, focussing on the phone when our partner or children are in the room or daydreaming at work. It may just be easier and come more naturally than setting another rule to break.

Robinson, M. (2022) Bower(knowledge)




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