When you want to change, but can't. Ask me anything. #healthama #ama

Jaime Reeves, LMFT
Feb 8, 2018

Change can be hard on a good day; much less a day when nothing seems to be going your way. Most of us experience constant failure when trying to create or make a major shift in our lives. It can be discouraging and painful. Most of us will inevitably give up, choosing the pain we know rather than the pain we don't.

It sounds counterintuitive, but failures are all part of a successful change. When we can master "change resistance" and learn to bend instead of break, there is nothing you can't change for the better.


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Is people not changing because of their own decisions or simply due to the fact they don't know how to do it?

Feb 12, 8:27PM EST0

It's a combination of things, usually a combination of skill, consistency and effectiveness. 

Consistency is really important, but if you're consistently doing things that are counterproductive to making quality changes, you're just spinning your wheels and possibly making things worse.

Most of the time we can figure this out for ourselves. When we can't, a fresh set of eyes is always helpful. That's when therapy can be useful.

Feb 13, 9:52AM EST0

What is the best way to face failure? How can you be prepared for the worst?

Feb 12, 11:06AM EST0

Curiosity. When you're curious you're open, creative, and flexible.  

As for preparing for the worst, at some point that stops being a good use of your energy.

Instead of lending energy to coming up with variations of a plan to cover any possible problem; you should instead think about "where can I land when things don't go as I planned?"

You will never be able to cover all of your bases, there are too many variables that are at play. This is an opportunity to work smart and not hard. 

Example: when you're on a road trip covering 3,000 miles you don't pack the car with cans of gas. Instead you plan to make several stops along your trip to gas up. It's not a failure to have to stop for gas, it's just part of your journey.

Last edited @ Feb 13, 9:44AM EST.
Feb 13, 9:29AM EST0

Do you think that people actually change or that they rediscover themselves?

Feb 11, 4:04PM EST0

I truly believe we are all always in a state of change. Whether that's regressive or Progressive? I think it depends on the person and what they prioritize in their life. Biologically our bodies are always in a state of flux, why would our emotional selves be any different.

Feb 12, 3:15AM EST0

What can you offer that getting advice from your friends and family members cannot?

Feb 10, 9:26PM EST0

You should see a therapist instead of family and friends for the same reason that you see a dentist when your toothache gets to bad to chew on one side of your month. At some point home remedies aren't enough and you need a specialist.

A therapist with good boundaries won't give you advice or try to rescue you.

They are there to assist you in finding your own answers. They are there to help educate you and at times challenge you.

Friends and family can't be impartial or clear-headed when you disclose something too dark, hurtful or problematic. 

Friends and family have a dog in the fight, are often clouded by expectations and assumptions, a good therapist isn't. They're impartial and can take you as you are, and not how they would like you to be or believe you to be.

In addition to all of that, therapist don't just listen and process with you. They use scientific theory and interventions to guide their response to effectively conceptualize and address what you bring to them. 

Feb 11, 3:53AM EST0

What are three pieces of advice you would give to couples reaching a stage where everything has turned monotonous?

Feb 10, 12:08PM EST0

Your question reminds me of the old saying, familiarity breeds contempt, it's something that I hear often from couples who feel stagnant in their relationships.

We get so busy doing the business of living life, raising kids, working, paying bills; that we forget what being an intimate partnership means.

When I see couples that struggle with this four things I always have them look at are the following:

1) Are you curious about your partner? You can be with someone for 20 years and not know everything about them, so stay curious.

2) Never stop dating. Your significant other isn't just a co-parent or a roommate. They're your lover, your companion, you need to nurture those bonds and one way that you nurture that is through intimacy, just because you have signed a piece of paper or made a verbal commitment to be together long term does not mean you can stop putting the work in and stop courting each other.

3) Try new things together. Foster partnership in other areas of your lives together.

4) Work on your friendship. When you don't like someone it makes loving them complicated. 

Feb 10, 1:57PM EST0

How can a person change his or her living routine that they are not happy about? How can they mentally prepare themselves to form a better routine?

Feb 10, 6:35AM EST0

Start off small. Take realistic measurable steps towards your goal.

One of the biggest mistakes we make is taking on too much too soon. We go for the gold right out the gate and we inevitably hit road blocks or waiver in our consistency. 

When you take small measurable realistic steps you give yourself a better chance of working up to your goal.

Feb 10, 1:34PM EST0

What have been the most radical changes you applied to your life? How did you personally overcome them?

Feb 9, 2:02PM EST0

As a child I had debilitating anxiety. When speaking in public I would get tremors, throw up, become dizzy, Etc. It kept me from making friends, going out, participating in activities that I really wanted to do. So when I got the opportunity and Howard University to change that I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. I took oratory classes, debate classes and tried anything that would force me to step outside of my comfort zone and do what I was most afraid of. 

I still get nervous, but I'm glad to say that I no longer throw up before speaking.  Everyday I face my fear of being seen, and everyday I conquer it.

Last edited @ Feb 9, 3:16PM EST.
Feb 9, 2:25PM EST1

How is it possible to master the “change resistance” you mentioned?

Feb 9, 12:23PM EST0

To simplify it, you embrace failure and the unexpected. Progress is not linear, we make the assumption that because we take two steps backwards that we can't do it, whatever "it" is. 

That backward or lateral movement in our progression is a necessary part of change. Sometimes we need to take a step to the left or back to get perspective on what it is that we're doing and how we're doing it. If we can accept that this is a necessary part of growth and change then perhaps we can stop dining on the narrative that when I take backward or lateral movements in my progress that means I can't do it. 

Change resistance is living in a space of rigidity and absolutes. When you can remove those road blocks your path is clear, no matter how many turns or missteps you make. You roll with resistance instead of being blocked by it.

Feb 9, 2:43PM EST0

Does family affects the way you want to change things?

Feb 9, 5:53AM EST0

It can. If you're talking about cultural nuances in particular families, absolutely. 

Family Dynamics are a large influence on any individual. 

If you have a particular situation in mind I would love to hear it. 

When we talk about family and cultural dynamics context is important.

Feb 9, 2:48PM EST0

Some people say that if a certain choice you want to make personally scares you, you should totally go for it. Would you agree with that statement? Why?

Feb 9, 5:53AM EST0

I'm going to be an annoying therapist for a second and say yes and no to your question.

You have to evaluate whether or not the choice that you're trying to make is in alignment with your goals and values.

We all have to live with the choices we make. 

Last edited @ Feb 9, 3:05PM EST.
Feb 9, 2:50PM EST0

Can failure be prevented from having a bad impact in someone’s life?

Feb 9, 3:33AM EST0

Not if the person is focused on the failure and not the lesson.

Failure isn't good or bad, it's an opportunity just like success.

When people stop focusing on their rigid assumptions of what their success should look like they will be free to find success in anything.

Example: Job loss that leads to you opening up your own business.

You don't know where a "failure" will lead you.

Feb 9, 3:03PM EST0

Have you ever been approached by someone who is not feeling good with his/her life? Were you able to help that individual?

Feb 8, 8:13PM EST0

Yes, I'm approached all the time by individuals who aren't satisfied with where their lives are headed. I think most of my clients would tell you that I am able to help them. However, I don't see myself as the Catalyst for Change and progress. They do all the work, all the heavy lifting and any progress that they see while working with me is all owed to them. 

Feb 8, 10:05PM EST0

Should changes be made even when someone is comfortable with his/her life?

Feb 8, 5:18PM EST0

In general, change happens whether you want it to or not. At age 54 you're not going to be the same person you were when you were 12. 

Now, if we're talking about change with intention and purpose I think that depends on what your goal is. Does staying as you are conflict with achieving your goal?

When you increase the severity of issues that changes the conversation a little bit.

I've worked with clients with severe addiction issues, cutting, self-harm and suicidal attempts and ideation. When you work with clients who have compulsive and oppressive thoughts and behaviours that could end in death or serious harm the desire for change isn't always necessary to reach them. 

Feb 8, 10:26PM EST0

What are the first steps to begin with a change?

Feb 7, 7:03PM EST0

The process is a little more fluid than formulaic, but I would suggest you start with the words use to describe yourself. You are what you believe. 

Example: I wish I could.... Can I really...?

Change to: when I... I will...

Perception is a powerful tool. If you believe you can't, you wont. If you buy into the narrative I don't deserve love, you won't be in a place to receive it. 

Start with changing what you believe.

Feb 8, 1:03PM EST0

What is the best way to face failure?

Feb 7, 8:42AM EST0

With curiosity. When we're faced with failure our natural inclination is to shut down, to push away, to judge and engage in blame and shame. That kind of thinking is rigid and brittle. When you're curious you're open, creative, and flexible.  

Feb 8, 12:55PM EST0

Would you recommend people to learn from other’s failures rather than waiting for those situations to happen to them?

Feb 7, 4:52AM EST0

Certainly I think it's wise to learn all that you can, not just first hand, but second hand. However, find balance in that and try not to let that hinder you from taking calculated risks because what might work for someone else might not work for you and vice versa. 

Last edited @ Feb 9, 6:32AM EST.
Feb 8, 12:48PM EST0

What is normally stopping someone from changing something? Is it just fear?

Feb 7, 4:44AM EST0

Fear is usually a strong contender and at times most of our issues can be rooted in fear. Most often people don't understand what their hidden motivations are. Sometimes it's enough to recognize that this is a habitual pattern in my life and I need to change that. Awareness for them comes later. A big roadblock for a lot of people is the work. It's hard work, lots of energy and focus that goes into creating change. Sometimes we're just not ready to make that kind of commitment.

Feb 8, 12:44PM EST0

Can that ‘shift’ you talk about change someone’s life completely?

Feb 7, 3:29AM EST0

No, not a shift alone can change someone's life completely. I'm glad you asked this question. Most of us would love to believe that if we address something once then it's done. Much like a math equation. Unfortunately emotions don't work like that, that's not to say that you need to do something massive to create chang in your life. It's important to understand that it could be a small thing that you shift, but that shift needs to be maintained and dynamic in nature. 

Feb 8, 12:37PM EST0

Would you agree that pain is a continuous feeling in everyone’s lives?

Feb 7, 3:11AM EST0

No I don't think pain is continuous, I do however believe that it has its place in our lives. Pain is an indication that something is wrong and has to change. It's an action feeling like anxiety, anger or fear.  It presents itself when you need to take action on something. 

Feb 8, 12:19PM EST0

In what ways do you use mindfulness and acceptance to work with couples and families?

Feb 6, 7:59PM EST0

Every couple and family are different in what they need, where their strengths and weaknesses lie. 

There is no formulaic way in which I address any one couple or family. In general I always start with a thorough assessment of all members of the couple or family. 

Typically I use a variety of mindfulness skill sets to help each couple/family learn how to be present and address needs in the moment. As well as teaching alternative ways of engaging in Conflict without severing the bond between them. 

As for couples in particular, the goal of therapy isn't to save someone's marriage, but to help them honestly and authentically see each other and decide if the work is something they want to put in or if they want to separate amicably.

Feb 8, 1:45PM EST0
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