Happy New Year: Real Change for a Change-By Toronto Psychotherapist Demian Brown

Happy New Year- Real Change for a Change

It’s January fifth, and right about now many of us are already pondering our defeat against that ominous annual list of resolutions. Do you find that year after year, those resolutions are the same? Do you find that year after year, hope for change gives way to hopelessness as you blunder your best intentions yet again?

We attach great hope to the idea of finally changing our bad habits and becoming the person we want to be. We believe with all of our hearts that this year, still fresh and unsullied, will be different. And so when it all comes crashing down and we find ourselves drinking or binging on ice cream or breaking down and buying cigarettes again, we berate ourselves for weakness. Once again, we are relegated to another grim year enslaved to our addictions. Once again, our dream of harmonious family life has dissipated into the familiar noise of toxic fighting.

The anxiety of that defeat is excruciating. The anxiety of that defeat does nothing to help stop the vicious cycle, either, and so hopelessness and feelings of weakness compound with our shame. It is here that we find ourselves far from the pinnacle of success we dreamed of just a few days ago. We are plunged right back into the chaos of depression and despair and anxiety.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Have you heard this quote before? Some of you may have heard it at Alcoholics Anonymous or other addiction circles. Its origin is debated- some say Albert Einstein, some say Benjamin Franklin. But it’s meaning is profound.

When you find yourself falling back into your old, unwanted routines, don’t let expectant elation give way to disappointment and anxiety. Do you really expect yourself to be one of the rare people who triumphs over their inner adversaries? This year, why not end the insanity and do things differently? Start by accepting reality at face value and calling yourself a human instead of a failure.

Reading stories about people rising above their problems is inspiring. That’s why we love to watch shows where people lose weight or get makeovers; we love biographies of individuals who rose above their lot in life and escaped from harrowing addictions or abusive relationships. But the subtext of these stories is often lost in the triumphant climax. The key question is how did these people create success from the same cards dealt to those around them? The answer is usually not “luck.” Even people who lucky enough to win millions in a lottery often find themselves near bankrupt again in a few years. Winning a prize did not help them magically escape their own human habits.

Perhaps the person had special powers or extraordinary resolve and willpower. Unlikely! Perhaps they set their goals by writing them down and pursuing them. But isn’t that what we all do every year? Many of us do indeed set and write down those goals, but the visualizing of them doesn’t bring us any closer to achieving them.

There’s a missing link here, of course. That link is simply this: asking for help.

Correct. Asking for help. The person who successfully gets to where they want to go, who gets off of that revolving hamster wheel, is the person who asks for help.

Asking for help is not magic, either, but without it, there is more chance of winning the lottery than of real change. Sure, some people have had extraordinary willpower or incredibly good fortune. But the vast majority of people who have met their goals successfully have been the ones to accept their humanity and ask for help. They have decided to learn how to achieve what they want to achieve.

There are some people who have conquered their addictions to smoking or alcohol cold turkey the first time they sent their mind to it. There are those who have fixed a broken car without ever having consulted a manual or observing a neighbour or mechanic. Such people are in the minority. Most people achieve their goals by asking for expert advice, moral support, and peer feedback. And like any education, help is not instant. It is a process.

I invite you to do something differently this year. Un-crumple that list you tossed out in furious defeat and put it somewhere safe. Then decide to prioritize yourself this year and get counselling. Counselling can teach an old dog new tricks. Come and visit me, or find a reputable counsellor in your area.

I don’t offer any magic solutions, but if you do the work, I will guide you to results. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, abuse, addiction, difficult family relationships or friendships, substance abuse, and other occurring or co-occurring mental health challenges, I can offer therapeutic support. We’ll explore the tools at our disposal and work with the ones that best suit your personality, beliefs, and situation. I believe that therapeutic and self-directed insight can be profoundly helpful, but I don’t believe that analysis or understanding alone is always the best therapy. Many clients have a deep understanding of how they got where they are: they simply need help navigating their way out. I believe in solution-oriented directives and actions, offering a unique blend of analysis, support, and action-oriented cognitive and behavioural change tools.

If you’re ready for change this year, then let’s get started.

For help with any addiction or compulsive behaviour Please Contact Demian Brown MSW, RSW for a telephone consultation at 416 648 0668 or email me to set up an appointment at demianbrown23@gmail.com



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