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Hold the Chocolate Chips: Change and How to Do It

Today, I scooped myself a bowl of ice cream. This is no different from countless other times I’ve done the same thing, save for one fact: I didn’t add chocolate chips. Now, let me back up for a second. I’ve been putting chocolate chips in my ice cream since I was a small boy. (somewhere out there in internet land, there is a mention of me eating too much ice cream-it’s true!).

Vanilla ice cream? Add some chocolate chips. Chocolate? Add chocolate chips. Cookie dough brownie with fudge? You guessed it, that’s going to get some chocolate chips too. So why didn’t I add them tonight? The answer: the global pandemic.

By now, I’m sure we’re all sick of reading about and talking about and hearing about the COVID-19 pandemic. So, I won’t belabour that. However, one side effect of the situation is that it’s caused almost all of us to re-think our routines. I didn’t add chocolate chips because when I went to grab another package at the grocery store earlier this week, they were all out (we really do seem to modulate our emotions with baked goods). That made me change a tiny part of my daily routine in a way I haven’t done for probably 20 years.

I’m betting that you, dear reader, might have had something similar happen to you in your week. Maybe you made that meal that you’ve been planning on for months. Maybe you cleaned the baseboards. Maybe you finally reached out and actually called your mother, or your grandmother (or their male counterparts!). Whatever it was, I’m betting that it felt weird at first, but that you felt better after doing it.

See, massive societal changes don’t just change things on the macro (read: big picture) level; they change on the micro, too.

Brent Mulrooney, M.A.S.P. | Therapist

See, massive societal changes don’t just change things on the macro (read: big picture) level; they change it on the micro, too. For 20 years, I have consistently thought that ice cream just wasn’t right without chocolate chips, so I consistently added them to every bowl I’ve ever eaten. Today, because of a situation entirely out of my control, I changed my habit. But here’s the thing: I liked it better. I tried it and I liked it better.

That got me to thinking. How often do we recognize that there’s something happening in our lives that just doesn’t sit right with us? Maybe you don’t call your friends because you think you’re going to bother them? Maybe you want to say hello to someone in an elevator, but you get shy because you’ve never done it before and …don’t weird people do that? (I say hello quite often, so make of that what you will). Maybe you want to start going to the gym, but you haven’t found the right day, or the right time, or the right gym outfit.

Yet, when we actually try something new, those tales we tell ourselves don’t often hold water. Sometimes they’re just not true. Sometimes, the ice cream is better without the chocolate chips.

Looking to start a journey towards change and your life? Mental health professionals at CFIR can help you navigate where you’re coming from and support you in developing healthy strategies to build an emotionally healthy future.

Brent Mulrooney, Ph.D., is a therapist at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships. He works with individuals and families to improve mood, anxiety, relationships, work, and school. He also works to alleviate problems associated with substance use, learning difficulties (including ADHD and Learning Disabilities), bullying, trauma, violence, grief and loss, transitions in life, self-esteem, gender identity, sexuality, and intimate relationships.