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Shrink the Change – Notice the Change

Jan 19, 2017 03:47PM ● By Don Short

Each year millions of Americans develop their list of New Year’s resolutions—live a healthier lifestyle, travel, get a better job—the list is endless.

In this article I want to identify two common issues around change, and why making a lifestyle change can be so difficult for some, while for others, seems to happen almost automatically.

First, let’s look at the idea of shrinking the change you want to make in your life or help a loved one in addressing change in their life. Sometimes the picture of change we create in our minds is so large and overwhelming that the process is never started because we feel so overwhelmed.

Let me give you some examples:

- While trying to encourage a friend (who is an extreme introvert) to get out more and do things that would allow him to meet new people. His response, “You want me to be the center of attention?”

- A wife when confronted about the amount of time she spends on social media responds, “You don’t want me to have any friends!”

- The husband who was confronted about the amount of time he spends at the hunting camp responds, “You don’t want me to ever spend time with my friends!”

Do you see a pattern?

The problem with the above responses is that each person sees the change as an “all or nothing” proposition. Sadly, with that perspective, their life and/or relationship will continue to suffer and deteriorate over time.

We need to shrink the change. It does not have to be “all or nothing.” The best answer lies somewhere in the middle. With good communications a couple can find reasonable answers to these relationship issues.

The second issue is that we sometimes  make subtle but significant changes in our behavior that is often harmful to our relationships. Let me give you an example. Last year I was talking to my wife about getting her some roses for our anniversary. She said that it had been a long time since I had done that. I disagreed, but she said that she remembers the last time and that it was on our 28th wedding anniversary. Thinking for a moment, I remembered what took place on that day. I had always bought her a dozen roses for our anniversary. That year I thought I would do something more special so I bought her 28 roses, one for each year of our marriage. Hoping she would be elated with the surprise, I placed them on the dining room table and asked her to come into the room. Immediately she says, “You didn’t need to do that—and you bought them at the most expensive place in Lafayette.” My heart dropped, as this was not the response I was hoping for and I stopped buying her roses after that.

My behavior had changed and I hadn’t realized it. Now, as I review my life, I try to correct the unintentionally hurtful changes that I have developed that adversely affect those I care about most. I challenge you to review your life and see where you’ve changed in a negative way as a reaction to a behavior from others. Notice it and correct it and you’ll bring healing and health back into your relationships.

Remember this:

1) Change is possible and easier if we break it down into smaller pieces. It does not have to be “all or nothing.”

2) Notice the negative changes you’ve developed over time and how it is affecting relationships.

3) Take responsibility and correct these behaviors.

Do this and 2017 will be the best year for all of your relationships!

Be the change you want to see in others. I wish you and your family a very Happy and Successful New Year!


About the author: Don Short is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). His practice focuses on clients with marriage, relationship and family issues. He is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. To learn more contact 337-781-4565 or

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