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Plant City Observer Friday, May 12, 2017 1 year ago

OPINION: Making proactive changes

Scott Toler discusses the necessity to face and make positive changes to overcome issues in life.

Sometimes, when we have an issue in life, we become the last ones to recognize and accept it. A reluctance to identify an issue might stem from a conception we established of ourselves that tells us we are not the kind of person who has that problem. This often leads to a state of denial that prevents addressing an area of concern.

Once we accept that we have an issue that calls for positive change, we might need time to console ourselves for needing to let go of an outmoded behavior pattern. This pattern became comfortable to us, even though we find it detrimental now. Introducing new thoughts or actions to our lives takes weeks or months before we gain a new level of adjustment. At times, fear arises as we confront something that we are not accustomed to doing.

Normalizing that fear as part of accepting and surrendering to to the reality of our issue helps us. One part of us wants to perpetuate the old thinking or pattern of behavior because we obtained some form of reward for it, but another part of us realizes that more personal gain comes from any needed changes. Listing the benefits or drawbacks involved in changing an area of life becomes helpful.

This process leads to a more honest dialogue with ourselves. For instance, we know that exercise contributes to a longer physical life span and that being sedentary all the time results in more health problems. The obvious benefits of getting in better shape outweigh any gains we get from remaining less active.

A change towards having more energy may involve anything from drinking a glass of water to listening to music we love. Whether it is wanting to feel less tired or amending other behaviors, it helps to have a default action ready to replace inhibiting habits. What will you do when you feel that old pattern slipping up on you?

Accepting that the Articles of Confederation failed to provide a workable form of government for the nation, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and other Founders collaborated on writing the American Constitution. Thus, they embraced the issue at hand and surrendered to the necessity of the compromises and debates that followed.

Surrender in this context means that we do the work involved in confronting and overcoming any issues we face. This concept resists instant solutions, and it encourages our active participation. It helps us to bring what we find uneven in our lives back into balance.

This ‘Golden Mean’ view of life leads to a more realistic perspective, giving us the emotional stability that we need to live well. If we live in unbalanced ways, we are never steady enough to visualize the way we need to go.

Scott Toler is a licensed mental health counselor living in Plant City. He can be reached at [email protected].

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