Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

Is Change Really Possible, Part Two

Now I know why I never did New Year’s resolutions. I can never decide what I want. My goals are still in a state of flux, but I’m making progress.

Part two of our process is to identity one behavior you want to change. If you’ve been rank ordering your goals as mentioned in last week’s newsletter, you should be able to identify your top three goals. What is a personal behavior that inhibits you from accomplishing one of those goals? Look at your list and write behaviors or thought patterns that stand in the way of accomplishing something that’s important to you. Once you’ve made a list of self-defeating behaviors, pick one that you’d like to target.

For instance, one of my goals is to take care of my health so I can enjoy this season of my life. As I mentioned in the previous newsletter, last year’s surgery altered my evening routines. Instead of coming home, exercising, and then reading, I come home and starting watching TV. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with TV, but it keeps me from accomplishing a goal that’s important to me. Once I target a behavior I’m ready to start the process.

According to Charles Duhigg in “The Power of Change” there are four steps to habit change:

  1. Identify the Routine
  2. Experiment with the reward
  3. Isolate the cue
  4. Make a plan


Habit research revealed a neurological loop at the core of every habit. This loop consists of three parts: a cue, a routine and a reward. Change begins by first understanding your own habit loops. Once you’ve identified the habit loop associated with a particular behavior, you can look for ways to substitute new routines for our not so helpful behaviors.

If I really want to change my evening routine, I have to begin by identifying my routine. For example, if I want to change how I begin my evenings I first need to understand what I do. When I come home as I walk into the house, I begin looking for the remote control to turn on the TV. I then look to see what’s on. I’ve tried to stop, but each day when I come home I find the remote and do it again. I tell myself I’ll do better tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes and the old habit kicks in again.

How do you start to change: by identifying the habit loop. And the first step is to identify the routine. What is your routine? Next there are a few less obvious questions: What’s the cue for this routine? For my routine is the cue returning home? Boredom? Time of day? Avoidance?

And what’s the reward? The TV programs? A distraction? Entertainment? Next time we’ll begin experimenting to discover why you keep repeating the same behavior over and over.

I know this may seems a little simplistic, but if you’re willing to join me I believe that you will be able to change even long standing behaviors. Please don’t give up. Just work at this one step at a time. This week all you have to do is identify what behaviors block your goals and identify the habit loop associated with your behavior.

As we did last week, I believe it might help others if you’d be willing to share the behavior you’ve identified to change as well as the habit loop associated with that behavior. Who knows what may happen.



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Rick - I really don't think change can happen in a believer in Jesus Christ until they allow the Lord to take them down and bring them back up again. My husband changed alright - all flesh - and now a divorce. Why don't folks take 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 for face value? Is it that hard to obey the Word of God (after all, we have the Spirit of power, love and a sound mind)?

I'm using this to tackle my

I'm using this to tackle my 'bipolar' type thoughts of my partner's infidelity.. Unfortunately there is no 'routine' that I can see to prevent me going back to my negative thoughts. I'll try anyway.

Goal~ spend more time in the

Goal~ spend more time in the Word of God. Plan to make happen~ get up earlier in the morning. Set the alarm clock. Habit that needs changing~ getting up & hitting the snooze button & going back to sleep.

1) To live everyday God -

1) To live everyday God - First, Wife (family) - second, myself - third 2) To treat my wife as a gift from God every day 3) That our sexuality with each other is the ultimate blessing (gift) from God. 4) To treat my wife with love, honor, and respect. 5) Thanking God everyday for a second chance (admitting to myself and knowing that I did not deserve it) 6) That we keep praying and sharing with each other our concerns and blessings. 7) To live in the present and not the past. 8) To wake up each morning and reflect and that God for MY daily blessings. 9) To forgive myself for my selfishness. 10) To exercise regularly so I can take care of myself physcially.

Love This

I love this list. Every betrayed wife would love if their unfaithful husband would live up to this list.

Spot on

simplistic but spot on. Hard to break if there is a strong emotional reason. My example: hooked on Spider Solitaire as an escape from the emotional stress of my marriage... I've wasted countless hours of my life escaping the pain of betrayal and to make matters worse I beat myself up more for being so unproductive. I have "fasted" from this wasteful habit with success. But one bad argument with my husband will push me back into escape mode again. Now why am I not able to get "addicted" to walking or exercising in the same way?

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