When you start to change, you need to do things consciously until you learn the new behaviours and they become more automatic. However, you are likely to find at tis stage it is still very easy to slip back into old behaviour patterns. It is as though the old patterns create a sense of inertia, making it seem a lot easier to not change.
It takes effort and energy to change. If you take a long term view and accept the occasional slip without beating yourself up, then you are more likely to achieve your goals. It is you alone who can put change into action.
Where you are changing a habit, then you can replace the negative behaviour you are attempting to change, with a more positive one. For example, instead of having a cigarette, deep breathe fresh air.
Reducing the Emotions Attached to Past Memories
Visualisation can be used to reduce negative emotions attached to past memories. When you are doing this process by yourself, focus on events that you do not consider to be traumatic. Instead think of one-off instances of being embarrassed, feeling guilty, resentful, jealous, or ashamed over an action or non-action. The aim is to reduce the negative emotion to zero.
Find a time when you can be alone and are not going to be interrupted or distracted for 5 – 10 minutes.
Imagine that you are sitting in front of a small fire. The fire can be in a hearth or fireplace, or outside. Wherever it is it is controlled and small. You are sitting in front of this little fire which is burning brightly and you are watching te flames and the burning wood, staring into the orange and red and yellow colours. Think about the event you want to process. Label the emotion and give it a score out of 10, where 10 is the strongest that you can feel. Where is the rating right now when you think about that event. This will give you an indication of where you are up to in processing the event.
When you have named the emotion and recorded how strong it is, pull it out of wherever it is in your body – whether your guts, chest, or shoulders – and throw it onto the fire. Watch it burn and go up in smoke. Keep on naming the emotion and imagining throwing it onto the fire and burning for as long as you can. Five minutes is good, or ten even better. Even a couple of minutes may work. You may now find other emotions, thoughts, or beliefs may come up for you. Label these and rate them too and throw them onto the fire as well. Continue to carry out this visualisation at least once a day for a period of 2 weeks. Over this time you should notice that the ratings are going down. Hopefully you will continue until the rating is zero.
By carrying out this process, you will not forget the memory, but the emotion will be detached from it and you will not find yourself thinking as much about the event as you did before.