Habit change coaching for success and happiness

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Master your habits to control your life!

By Jim Byrne and Renata Taylor-Byrne

Jim Byrne and Renata Taylor-Byrne, counsellors hebden bridge

2nd July 2021

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Preamble

“All our life, so far as it has definite form, is a mass of habits”. 

William James, (1892).

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We humans are creatures of habit

1, Habits and social influenceWe are physical body-brain-mind creatures – Enmeshed in a social culture

And driven by a life script that we wrote when we were too young to have enough sense to write a life script!

And our culture is dominated by amoral corporate interests that don’t give a free-flying duck about your health or happiness! And our politicians are controlled by those same corporate interests!

So your best chance of living a happy life is this: Wake up and take responsibility for your life’s direction!

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Introduction

Hello and welcome to this little page of introductory remarks about habit based living in a challenging world!

We are Jim Byrne and Renata Taylor-Byrne, habit-change coach-counsellors, who have honed our skills by working on our own habits, as well as those of our clients.

2, Responsibility and habit changeWe have been on the road less travelled for more than forty years, working at staying conscious in a world that wants us to be passive, unconscious consumers of whatever makes a fast buck (for somebody else)!

In that time we have studied dozens of different philosophies of life, many of which come from the world of counselling psychology and psychotherapy. Plus Moderate Zen Buddhism, and Moderate Stoicism. And many more besides.

And we have changed some major habits which were reducing our health and happiness.

At some point, we got into studying Attachment theory, and that helped to make more sense of humans as grown-up children, with all the scars of childhood on their hearts: (Gerhardt, 2010).  Attachment theory, and Object relations theory – (Gomez, 1997) – eventually formed the core of our understanding of the significance of our origins as a physical baby in the arms of a cultural mother.

This gave rise to a greater awareness of the individual counselling client as a ‘social individual’, who is ‘wired up’ (or ‘shaped’ [neurologically]) by social stories, to be a creature of habit, living out of historic scripts; and viewing the world through non-conscious frames (or lenses) which dictate how things ‘show up’ in their automatic (cumulative-interpretive) apprehension of the external world.

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If you would like some help to change your habits, in any area of your life, then we can show you how to make progress:

Renata’s Habit Change Process.***

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Jim’s Habit Formation Service.***

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3, Social relationships and habit formationAs the developments (described above) were reaching fruition, we also discovered the insights of interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB – Siegel 2015) – and Affect Regulation Theory (Hill, 2015) – which helped to further clarify how the mind of the individual (child, and later adult) emerges out of the interaction of a physical baby and a cultural mother.

But even beyond those developments, we also became increasingly aware that, because we are body-minds, our experience of sleep, diet, exercise, alcohol, water consumption, stress and relaxation, and socio-economic circumstances – (in addition to current and historic relationships) – have as much to do with our emotional disturbances (very often) as do our psychological habits of mind.

We have published compelling evidence, from reliable sources, that

– Dietary changes and physical exercise can produce dramatic reductions in levels of anger, anxiety and depression;

– Anti-depressants are not nearly as effective as has been claimed (and that physical exercise alone is as effective at curing depression as are antidepressant drugs);

– That drug companies hide negative trial results; that the real pills often fail to outperform placebo (sugar) pills; that the real pills are often totally ineffective; that they seem to be addictive, and difficult to get off in some cases; and they have serious side effects (in some cases involving suicidal ideation).

And in addition, we agree with those theorists who have argued that physical exercise is at least as effective as anti-depressants; and also that some forms of dietary change can and do reduce and/or eliminate depression, and also reduce anxiety and anger.

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If you would like some help to change your habits, in any area of your life, then we can show you how to make progress:

Renata’s Habit Change Process.***

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Jim’s Habit Formation Service.***

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4, Bodily habits and mental statesCounselling and therapy systems have normally ignored the convincing evidence that exercise and diet and sleep can change our emotional states.  For example, in Dryden and Strawbridge’s (2003) book on counselling psychology, there are no references in the index to diet or physical exercise[1].  Similar to the case of McLeod (2003)[2], there is a ‘virtual postscript’ (in Chapter 29 [of 32] in Woolfe, Dryden and Strawbridge) on counselling psychology and the body – which is essentially about using bodily experience in counselling and therapy – as in breath work, and body awareness – though the chapter author (Bill Wahl) also includes a consideration of body-work as such.  However, in our system of counselling, coaching and psychotherapy, we consider that touch is too problematical (ethically) to include in our work with clients.  What we do include, because it is now clearly an essential ingredient of the health and well-being of the whole-client (body-brain-mind), is awareness of the role of diet and exercise and sleep in the level of emotional disturbance of the client; and an awareness of the need to teach the client that their diet, exercise and sleep practices have a significant impact upon their emotional and behavioural performances in the world.

Beyond that, we offer coaching in how to do meditation and Qigong exercises; and how to do Progressive Muscle Relaxation.

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If you would like some help to change your habits, in any area of your life, then we can show you how to make progress:

Renata’s Habit Change Process.***

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~~~

Jim’s Habit Formation Service.***

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4, Bodily habits and mental statesWe are involved in a therapy revolution: the radical reformulation of most of our major theories of therapy; and their integration into a completely new view of the social individual as a body-brain-mind-environment whole.

Talk therapy has a lot to offer the social-individual, but talk therapy alone cannot cure most of the ills of the modern world, which are related to the lifestyle of the client; the personal history of the client; and the current stressors in the life of the client. Plus, of course, the class-structure of the economy!

(Interestingly, lifestyle coaching and lifestyle medicine are beginning to emerge in various quarters, including among some psychiatrists, [who are experimenting with diet – ‘Holistic psychiatry’]; some neurologists [‘Holistic neurology’]; and some medical doctors [‘Integrative medicine’, and ‘Nutritional therapy’]. But none of these approaches is nearly as complete or holistic as our system of emotive-cognitive embodied-narrative therapy theory and practice).

The world of counselling and therapy is being transformed (once again!).

And the government could make more of a difference than all the counsellors on the planet, by promoting greater social and economic equality among our citizens!

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If you would like some help to change your habits, in any area of your life, then we can show you how to make progress:

Renata’s Habit Change Process.***

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Jim’s Habit Formation Service.***

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Endnotes

[1] Woolfe, R., Dryden, W., and Strawbridge, S. (eds) (2003) Handbook of Counselling Psychology. Second Edition. London: Sage Publications.

[2] McLeod, J. (2003) An Introduction to Counselling. Third Edition.  Buckingham: Open University Press.  Chapter 21 of 21; section 6 of 9 within that final chapter! No references to diet.  This is the totality of his commentary on physical exercise: “The therapeutic value of physical exercise is well established.  But, for the most part, counselling remains centred on talking rather than doing”. (Page 523 of 527!)

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