Words of Wellness

January 02, 2009 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner

The Roots of Change

I took our Christmas tree out to the curb the other day and placed it on top of a snow bank.† It wasn't alone out there as many of our neighbors had recently done the same.† None the less, it's still a sad sight to see all the discarded Christmas trees waiting to be thrown away or turned into wood chips this time of year.† And far too often our resolutions to change, New Years or otherwise, end up like discarded Christmas trees.† For a short time they are the center of our attention, but then just as quickly they dry out and are discarded. †

†††† The reason the Christmas tree dries out and is discarded is obvious.† It has been cut off from its roots.† Resolutions to change that are cut off from their roots are also bound to die quickly.† Unless we deal with the "root of the problem" our efforts to change will rarely succeed.† This is true for individuals, couples, families, organizations and economies as well!

†††† In last week's Weekly Words of Wellness I asked each of us to think about a family relationship we would like to improve this year.†† We may have already discovered that making this resolution a reality is more complex than we may have thought.† There is a history to our family relationships and any present day tensions we experience almost always have their roots in old patterns of hurt or neglect.† To create new outcomes we will have to dig a little deeper and work a little harder than we first realized.

†††† Perhaps an example will help.†† A couple is feeling very distant from each other and so together they resolve to start having a weekly date night.† The first one goes fairly well.† They feel good and proud of themselves that they made this resolution.† The second date night does not go so well.† One spouse begins to criticize the other's parenting, creating a reaction of, "I'm sick and tired of always being told what's wrong with me," which in turn creates a reaction of, "If you'd ever listen to me, maybe I wouldn't have to keep repeating myself!"†† As you can imagine the third date night never happens.† Why?† Because some of the roots of the problem in the marriage, poor communication skills/patterns along with old hurts/wounds, have not been addressed.† Unless that becomes the new focus for a resolution, the weekly date night resolution will not succeed. †

†††† This example could easily be applied to any family relationship that we seek to improve.† Old history, old patterns, the roots of the problem, will always emerge as soon as we seek to change and grow.† Knowing this is crucial because it will help prevent us from becoming discouraged when our attempts at change are not successful.† "Failed" attempts at change, simply mean we weren't focusing on the root of the problem.† As the root of the problem emerges once again, this time we can make a new resolution to deal with it.† In the example above, the couple could make a new resolution to work on their communication.† They might resolve to get some coaching or counseling, sign up for a marriage education class, or read a book on marriage together. †

††††† Remember that any attempt to make meaningful change will always surface the roots of resistance that have been preventing the change.† When that happens, simply refocus your resolution to work on the roots of the resistance.† Keeping your resolutions to change connected to their deeper roots improves the chances that your resolutions won't soon end up discarded curb side on top of a snow bank.

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