Do you ever feel like you are walking through life, reacting to one situation after another? Does it seem like you just get your bearings when, all of a sudden, something else comes at you?
It is common for people to feel helpless, even powerless, to impact their lives. They live from one crisis to another, gradually losing their zest for life. With prayers seemingly unanswered, it is easy to slip into passivity.
I caution you not to do slip into passivity, but rather embrace your power to make choices.
“Nothing I do seems to make any difference,” Colleen said to me during a recent Marriage Intensive. “I keep praying for change, but nothing changes.”
Married for twenty-five years to Jake, an electrician by trade with a large presence, echoed her words.
“I feel the same way,” he said. “I’d like changes in our marriage too, but my words seem to fall on deaf ears.”
The tension between them was palpable. Who of us don’t want to have a sense that our mate hears our words, appreciates them and makes changes in an effort to make us happy?
One of our first objectives at The Marriage Recovery Center is to dispense hope—not hard to do because there is reason for hope if a couple is ready to change. Most are because they are ‘sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.’
A starting place for hope is to consider the patterns and ruts you have gotten into. These ruts are often so familiar that you don’t notice them. You have quit making healthy choices and have succumbed to reacting in old familiar ways. However, these familiar ways are hurting you. You must be open to change.
Scripture makes this point to help us move into a change process:
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).
Thank God we don’t have to keep doing what we’ve always been doing, getting what we’ve always been getting. We have choices we can make with a renewed mind and renewed attitudes. In fact, notice that we’re even promised a new self. That’s great news. A renewed mind, with a renewed attitude, and a new self so that we can make new, healthier choices.
I recommended the following to help cultivate the skill making new, healthy choices.
First, cultivate a renewed mind. We will never change our situation with the same mind from which we created and reinforced a problem. We must cultivate a renewed mind through the power of prayer, reading Scripture and seeking wise counsel.
Second, notice your choices. It is tempting to see the world in black and white terms, having only a limited number of choices. This is not true. Cultivate an open mind, willing to consider new options and new possibilities. Ask for feedback from trusted friends with a new perspective on your situation.
Third, experiment with new ideas. The brain loves familiarity and routine. Seeking and experimenting with new ideas will likely feel like learning a new language. After a while, however, the new ideas and new ways of thinking will become more comfortable. You can enjoy the possibility of new choices.
Fourth, act in new ways. Try out new ways of behaving. Start small. Like taking dance lessons, start with small steps. Make new, healthy choices, but do so in small ways. Notice how you feel. Be prepared to feel awkward and also be aware that others may not applaud your changes. Those around us often want us to be the way we’ve always been with them. Don’t let their negative attitude spoil your attempts at change.
Finally, celebrate your courageous changes. Find people who will encourage your growth. Also, be sure to celebrate your own growth. Notice that you can change, making choices that enrich your world.
We are here to help and offer phone/ Skype counseling on issues related to this article. Please go to our website, www.marriagerecoverycenter.com and discover more information about this as well as the free downloadable eBook, A Love Life of Your Dreams, including other free videos and articles. Please send responses to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and also read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website. You’ll find videos and podcasts on sexual addiction, emotionally destructive marriages, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.
Publication date: September 16, 2014