A client did a relatively small thing differently in a friendship, which made a difference in her relationships in general and in her feelings about friends and herself. She hadn’t heard from someone in a while after having reached out to her twice. Instead of assuming her friend was angry or upset with her, or saying something hurtful in retaliation for how hurt she felt, my client approached her friend in an even, open manner. She said she wondered why she hadn’t heard from her friend after having made two attempts to connect. Her friend threw her arms around my client and swore she’d been unusually busy and wasn’t trying to avoid her. Then she asked when they could get together. My client felt proud of being appropriate and staying calm and was pleased with her friend’s response. Not a life-changing event, by any means, but progress toward a healthier way of relating to others and an opportunity to correct dysfunctional patterns and to feel proud of herself.
This interaction got me wondering how changing one thing in your life might improve how you feel about yourself and start a ripple effect. Here are some examples:
- Approach someone close to you with compassion rather than combativeness. Go out of your way to understand where someone is coming from rather than getting defensive or trying to change his or her mind.
- Maintain your meditation or exercise schedule no matter what (aside from injury or true emergency).
- Refuse to use the terms “good” or “bad” when describing foods, replacing them with “more nutritious” and “less nutritious.”
- Make sure you get enough sleep every night even if you have things to do or believe that sleep is a waste of precious time.
- Avoid raising your voice to your children and, instead, make yourself think out what you want to say to them and speak in a modulated, calm voice.
- Don’t try to do something perfectly; do a fair or mediocre job instead.
- Disappoint someone who expects too much of you rather than stress yourself out.
- Check in with yourself every night to examine your feelings during the day.
- Don’t talk yourself out of something you really want to do that’s good for you. Do it.
Pick one behavior to change and put your all into it. If you forget to do it, start again when you remember. Get right back on track without judgment. Change just one behavior, that’s all.