“When I said at the table that my New Year’s resolution was to find a better balance between work and family, everyone laughed at me. They were right: I’d already worked twice in the holidays and ordered unhealthy food because I didn’t have time to cook for them.”
Ilse is sitting in front of me in my practice room and is sadly telling her story. Her words are so recognizable that I would like to share them with you, so that you too can make use of the benefits that Transactional Analysis (TA) can provide. Did you decide on January 1 to finally do something about your eating habits? Did you genuinely want to find a better balance between work and your family? Be honest? How many of your resolutions have actually succeeded?
Tough isn’t it? But don’t worry, I have a solution for you! Do you really want to understand why it is that you – and along with you, many others, you are not alone! – always fail to keep those resolutions? Then read on.
Old patterns still play a role
Ilse, you, me … everyone has developed patterns in his or her childhood that were crucial at that time. Crucial for surviving the circumstances in which you grew up. These patterns are still part of your daily routine, but they sometimes get in the way more than being useful. The annoying thing is that you often unconsciously follow those patterns without realizing it. In TA we call it the Script.
Reading tip: You can read more about this in this blog: I get so tired of myself | 4 misconceptions about realizing your own potential and how things really work.
TA can help you become aware of your Script and therefore analyze and adjust your patterns. You will then be given the choice to follow those old patterns when they work to your advantage, or to choose a different path.
How do you recognize old patterns?
To give you an insight into the patterns that can sometimes get in the way, I developed a questionnaire. This questionnaire is part of my free Workbook for Coaches, Therapists and Clients. I’ve noticed that this questionnaire is also particularly suitable for people who come across something at Script level, as can happen when they can’t keep to their resolutions. I’m convinced that this questionnaire will also provide insights for you. Are you interested in this? You can download the workbook [* here *] in exchange for your first name & email address. But that’s not all you can get from this blog today. Below I also give you a number of tips with which you can succeed in applying new habits in your life.
Follow up good intentions
You can’t simply apply new habits; you’ll only succeed a few days before you fall back into your old patterns. With these tips you can manage it a lot easier:
- Small steps
If you want to change your entire eating pattern in one go, that’s a huge step. Start with less / no sugar in your tea. When you’re used to that, replace another part of your diet. If you take small steps and have patience with yourself, you often go much further than drastic changes.
- 21 days
Learning a new habit takes – on average – 21 days. Then it is “in your system” and you no longer have to think about it that hard. Give yourself those 21 days and, until you get used to it, put a reminder in your phone every day or hang a note on your mirror to remind yourself of your new habit. This also works well the moment you become aware of an old pattern that you’re still using but is actually getting in your way.
- Be kind to yourself
We can sometimes be incredibly hard on ourselves. Once you have forgotten to take that walk, or if it simply didn’t work out, then it is easy to think: “I can’t do it. I give up.” At that point, you can be kind to yourself and say: “It didn’t work today. I’ll try again tomorrow.”
- Look at your Script with appreciation
The Script that you have developed has “served” you all your life. It was a survival tool to get through your childhood, no matter how difficult some things were. Knowing your Script, you can now choose to let go of those patterns when they’re no longer useful and make the choices that are really important to you.