Monthly archives: May, 2014


The key to successfully dealing with change is preparation

The following five tips will help with the process.

1. Find the want behind the should
One of the greatest obstacles to change is ambivalence, where part of us wants something to be different, and another part, on balance, prefers things as they are. So the first task of change is to make a decision. Decision-making isn’t a once-only thing though. You can return to decisions again and again, making them stronger each time by reminding yourself of your reasons. What is it you really want to happen and why? By focusing on the deep desires that call you, you feed your motivation. I think of this as finding the want behind the should.

2. Allow a preparation stage
If you’ve failed in the past, it is easy to lose confidence. Yet people who succeed in making changes have often tried many times before. If you can’t yet see a way forward, then rather than giving up, give yourself a preparation stage to cultivate the skills, strengths and allies that might help you make progress. Like an athlete in training, you can improve your performance by identifying where you’ve gone wrong in the past, improving your technique and finding out about new approaches. In sports psychology, for example, athletes commonly use techniques like ‘mental rehearsal’, where they picture themselves performing well in their chosen field.

3. Use imaginary hindsight
When you’re wondering how to do something, rather than asking “how can I do this?” imagine that you’ve already succeeded. Picture yourself there, and then ask yourself how you did it. Telling yourself the story of how you succeeded is a great way of opening up a sense of possibility. Research also shows that people using this ‘imaginary hindsight’ technique tend to map out more detailed pathways through obstacles. Approaching a problem knowing it has already been solved puts you in a different mindset, as your creativity is stimulated in the search for how it was done.

4. Keep on keeping on
There’s a saying that courage doesn’t always roar – sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says, “I’ll try again tomorrow.” Significant changes are often hard-won, with reversals and failures along the way. By seeing change as a journey, with bumpy patches as part of the terrain, it becomes easier to be compassionate with ourselves when we’re not doing as well as we’d hoped. We can cultivate the strength of persistence by recommitting to our decision and reminding ourselves why that is important to us. Then identify the next step, and take it, and the next step after that.

5. Celebrate victories, especially tiny ones
If a journey of thousand miles is made of many steps, there’s a long wait for celebration if the only victory counted is reaching the finish line. One of the skills of change-making is to notice and celebrate mini-victories along the way. This helps maintain enthusiasm and prevents us losing heart. So if you were to take a step of positive change today, even if it is just preparing yourself – what might it be? Celebrate when you’ve done that, and then continue the journey.

And when you are not sure, or seem to be stuck, seek counsel from a reliable and trusted Los Angeles Psychotherapist. They will help you celebrate your milestones and keep you on the right path.

Fatemeh Farahan is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles, working with individuals, couples and parents on a variety of emotional and behavioral issues. For a private consultation in her Los Angeles office, set up an appointment here. 

Are You That Couple Who Will Make It?

Process incidents and move on

The reason that we hold onto “regrettable incidents,” and the reason they become festering wounds in our memory and in our relationships is that we haven’t processed them successfully.

Fighting itself is not a bad thing. There are ways that we fight that produce hurt that injure our partners. When that happens, the difference between couples who make it and couples who break up is simple: the couples who make it “repair” the relationship after they’ve hurt each other. The couples that don’t repair those hurts end up with festering wounds that grow bigger by the day, the month and the year until they finally break the couple apart. Repair is absolutely crucial in any kind of relationship, particularly intimate relationships.

Don’t apologize too soon. One mistake that couples often make is for one partner to immediately apologize for something that they’ve done wrong and then they are surprised when the apology doesn’t work. Apologies only work if the person who is apologizing understands the pain that they have caused the other. The way that they can understand that pain is to hear their partner describe it.

Start with how you felt. The way to repair an emotional injury or slight hurt is, first, to talk about how you felt during the incident.  Name what feelings you had. Secondly, each person takes a turn as a speaker, explaining his or her perception of what happened during the incident. What happened needs to be expressed not as criticism or blaming statements but rather as the experience the speaker had during the conflict.  Also it is essential to explain your perception of the event.

Avoiding the Regrettable Incident Next Time. The last step is for each partner to give a suggestion for one thing that they themselves can do differently and one thing the other person might be able to do differently next time. They each do that in order to not only repair what has just happened but to talk about ways to avoid the same thing happening again in the future.

The key throughout the entire process is to be honest, tell your perspective and listen to your partner’s perspective. When we’ve done that the small hurts no longer fester and threaten our relationship. We no longer need to hold on to it. It is processed. It is done.

Do you have specific questions on this topic? Share your thoughts below!