Helen Weston on making radical life changes

BREAKING out of a destructive pattern that is deeply entrenched can be one of the hardest things to do in life.

We can get used to almost anything, even something very negative, and the fear of the unknown can assume massive proportions, especially if we are feeling low.

Sometimes an external event will push us into making a change - it can be as small as a passing comment from a friend, a line in a book, even the weather.

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What matters is that we recognise it when it comes and take the necessary action.

The world is full of people who live with the regret that they didn't seize the moment. If you are not quite ready to make your move yet, use the time to gather your resources and seek out allies.

If you act as if things were about to change, the decision will feel more real and you will believe in your ability to make the change you seek.


I have been in a dead-end job for eight years and I am beginning to despair that I will ever get the career I want. I am married with two small boys and we need the money, so I don't feel I can tell my wife but I am beginning to feel desperate.

You and your wife need to have a good talk about what each of you want out of your relationship.

Do you have to play the role of provider? It is all too easy to fall into the same patterns of thinking our parents had, unless we stop to examine them, but you have a chance to make your own rules.

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Set aside a time to talk about your hopes for the future. Tell her how desperate you are about your job.

You may find that she would like things to be different too and has been afraid to tell you. If you can work this out together, it will be a solid foundation for the future.

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Nothing is more important in a good marriage than being able to talk honestly together.


I have been offered a great job in Australia but my mother is a widow and my two girls are her only grandchildren. She will be devastated if I go. What should I do?

You don't say how old your children are or the state of your mother's health. Whatever the answer, you have a very difficult decision to make and no one else can make it for you.

I presume you have asked her if she would consider coming too? If the answer is no, I suggest you gather as many opinions as you can from the people who matter, add your own, then make a list of the pros and cons.

If that doesn't help, try tricking yourself into making a decision in one direction or the other and see how strong your sense of regret is.

What I would strongly advise is that you spend time distinguishing between guilt and genuine regret because you can't build your life on guilt.


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I think I may be gay but I am afraid to tell my wife as I know she will feel rejected. The trouble is I don't think I can go on any longer living a lie.

You don't say anything about your sex life, so I don't know how your wife may be feeling about that. It is possible she is feeling rejected already and would welcome an honest admission of your sexuality so that she understands what has been going on.

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This is obviously a big decision and it may help to talk to other men who have gone through the same struggle.

A good place to start is the LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing in Edinburgh. It has lots of information and a helpline.

There is also the Strathclyde Lesbian and Gay Switchboard, based in Glasgow and open nightly from 7pm-10pm. Good luck with your journey.

Helen Weston is head of professional practice with Relationships Scotland (www.relationships-scotland.org.uk)

This article was first published in Scotland On Sunday, 2 January, 2011