From Session to Session

Therapy Take-Aways to Practice in Your Life

A Fresh Start – A New Leaf – A Second Chance: My opportunity to change

A New Leaf3

One of my favourite movies is “Groundhog Day”, where the main character wakes up every morning and it’s the same day over and over. He gets chance after chance to view his behaviour and see the outcomes from a new perspective. He is able to develop awareness about himself and most importantly, make changes to get different results. The movie is very funny and very poignant.

So many times I wish I could wake up and get another chance at a day that didn’t go so well. Even though we can’t redo what has past, we can definitely do it differently when we get a second chance at something. Starting a new school year, a new job or business, a new marriage or a re-commitment to your current relationship; these are all chances to review, renew and build insight about ourselves.

Many people know that I recently got a new puppy. She is wonderful, adorable and giving me a huge challenge. It is a fresh start for me. I’m determined to correct the mistakes I made with my last dog. Easier said than done! I’ve already noticed that I’m giving in on all the same things that became problems the last time. Of course it’s our nature as humans to repeat unconscious patterns even though they may not bring us what we want and even do damage.

As I go through this process I’m becoming more aware of what it takes to break into those unconscious circuits and really make a change in my behaviour and outcomes.

  1. AWARENESS – First I have to know what I don’t want to repeat and what I want to do instead.
  2. RESPONSIBILITY – I have to search inside and take responsibility for my part in what didn’t go well last time.
  3. COMMITMENT – Next I have to make a serious commitment to doing my part differently.
  4. DETERMINATION – Then I have to stick to my commitment. Again, easier said than done!

Wish me luck (and wisdom)….and ask me in a year if Honey is heeling beautifully and if she ignores the dishwasher while I’m loading it.


If you are getting another chance at something or turning over a new leaf in your life, I invite you to take a closer look at your change opportunities. Try going through these steps and focus on your own situation.

Developing Awareness is the process of bringing unconscious behaviour into consciousness. It’s sometimes described as insight (seeing into self), or having an “ah-ha” experience; a moment when things crystallize and we gain a fresh understanding of ourselves in a particular situation. What are you aware of that you would like to change?

Taking Responsibility is quite difficult. It means you have to stop blaming others and the situation and look deeply into yourself at what you did that contributed to an undesirable outcome. If you are really honest, what do you need to change about yourself in this situation?

Make a Commitment about what you want to do differently and write it down. You will have a much better chance of achieving your goal if you commit it to paper. Write down your commitment to yourself in a notebook, on your phone or computer and title the file, “Personal Change Commitments”

Stay Determined even if you find yourself slipping back into old default patterns, you can still catch yourself and renew your commitment for change. Always remember that self-compassion and kindness works much better than judgement and contempt. Keep your sense of humour and stay the course.

And if you need extra help with this process talk to your partner, a parent, a close friend or book a counselling appointment and we’ll work on it together.


  1. Sibel YazmanSibel Yazman10-08-2012

    Thanks very much for this article Ruth. I have a sense the “step” approach will make a follow through easier. Personally, I never seem to have any problem with #1 and #2 (developing awareness and taking responsibility). It’s #3 and 4 that prove to be challenging in day-to-day life. Thanks again.

  2. LesaLesa10-11-2012

    This one is perfect timing! Personally, I find Fall a great time to make changes which means tossing out those old bad habits. I agree that #3 and #4 are the hardest to do. However, not trying is deemed to be failure and perseverance eventually wins. This blog was perfect timing for me as I am making numerous changes. This is a good fridge “post it” article, especially to remind me of compassion 🙂

Leave a Reply