It’s the New Year and you have high hopes. Whether or not you have made any New Year’s resolutions, there are probably a few things in your life that you want to be better. Perhaps you want to have better communication with your spouse, be more fulfilled in your work, cut down on your alcohol consumption or spend more time with your family.
George has worried about his alcohol consumption for years. He is in the hospital on an unrelated matter, and has resolved not to return to drinking when he gets out. He explains to his visitors, "I have a drink and then I just don’t stop."
Barbara has wanted for years to have more meaningful conversations with her husband. She complains, "I can’t talk with him because he doesn’t listen. It’s hopeless."
Simon weighs 260 pounds and doesn’t exercise. Every year he resolves to diet and exercise. The gyms love him because he pays for a year and only comes for three weeks. Nothing changes and he moans to his doctor, "I’m fat and sedentary."
Can you identify with George, Barbara or Simon? Besides the fact that they have repeatedly failed to achieve their resolutions, can you spot the mistake they all make?
It’s one many people make. All three state their problem in the present tense. And they quite obviously have been saying it that way for some time.
Although George isn’t drinking, he says, "I have a drink…" Barbara says, "I can’t talk with him…" Simon says, "I’m fat and sedentary." And they are all telling the truth as they see it.
The problem is that this truth is about the past, that is, how it has been up to now. By repeatedly stating their problems in the present tense, they continue to anchor these ’truths’ in their identities. The alcoholism, the poor communication, the extra weight and sedentary lifestyle have become part of their identities as people. It is how they see themselves. It is the message they send to their subconscious minds and to the universe every day.
If this is their daily message to the universe, how could a mere New Year’s resolution possibly change anything? The answer is, it can’t!
Fortunately for the human race there is a way around the problem that allows the desired changes to come about.
The key is to let the past stay in the past. If George would say, "When I was drinking…" instead of "When I have a drink," he would have a much better chance of succeeding with his resolve to not drink.
If Barbara could say, "Up to now, my husband and I have had a hard time communicating" instead of "I can’t talk with him…it’s hopeless," she would remove a huge barrier to their relearning how to talk with each other.
Simon would improve his odds tremendously if he shifted his words to, "I have had a weight problem but now I’m more active and eating better."
So, if you want to clear the way for the new to emerge, never use the present tense to describe what has been true of your life or relationships in the past.
A good start would be to make a list of things you would like to change, being sure to state them all in the past tense. For example, "In the past I’ve attracted duds, but now I’m in the process of finding my ideal mate."
Change is an exercise in allowing.
Dr. Neill Neill, Registered Psychologist and Diplomate, Comprehensive Energy Psychology, helps capable people who feel stuck…trauma, relationships, addictions.