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Book Jacket

222 pages
Aug 2003
Integrity Publishing

Keep the Change: A Radical Approach to Permanent Transformation

by Becky Tirabassi

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Table of Contents





Chapter 1

The Truth about Change

Change is very difficult. It is a process. It is not static. It is ongoing, never ending.

To achieve lasting change is not—and never will be—easy. To think otherwise is naïve. To believe otherwise is unrealistic. If you truly desire to achieve change that lasts, it will require . . .

    discomfort for a season,

    stretching until you touch new places,

    letting go and leaping into the unknown,

    pushing out of a comfort zone until living a changed life feels natural,

    appearing foolish to other people, but remaining unthreatened by looks of disapproval, surrendering to a better way,

    facing fear until it no longer holds any power ...however

    long it takes, and

    telling the truth about you to yourself and others.

If you cannot sustain change in your life—if you relapse or fail repeatedly, if you have shelved a dream because of too many rejections—don’t give up. BREAKING  THROUGH TO PERMANENT TRANSFORMATION CAN BEGIN TODAY IF YOU ARE WILLING TO START WITH THE TRUTH ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR SITUATION.

  • What is your truth today?
  • Does your anger hinder you?
  • Is your marriage in trouble?
  • Are your kids spinning out of control?
  • Are your finances in the tank?
  • Are you abusing your body?
  • Is there a dream in your heart that won’t go away?

Believing lies, denying the truth, or avoiding reality will keep you from changing your life. Understand that your false beliefs may be holding you back from grasping what you deeply desire. You must embrace truth. Truth will change your life. And not only that, it has intrinsic power to help you keep the change.


Many of us run as long as we can before facing the truth. Instead of clearly seeing and admitting the reality of our lives, we buy into the lies.

The lies tell us . . .

  • we’re not really hurting anyone else,
  • the problem can wait until tomorrow,
  • people can’t really change,
  • we’re merely products of faulty parenting,
  • we can deal with the issue on our own, or
  • divorce is the only option.

Just as the details of your life and journey are unique to you, the specific lies you unwittingly believe are not exactly the same as someone else’s. The imbalance of lies and truth in your life must be diligently and carefully examined and exposed. This requires identifying the lies you believe, regardless of whether or not those around you see them.

In his counseling practice, my husband, Roger, spends a great deal of time helping clients recognize and throw out the lies that keep them trapped in destructive patterns. He is certain that false beliefs about ourselves, others, or our situations hold us back from lasting, permanent change.

Lies creep in from just about everywhere. Many of the lies you currently believe may come from something your parents taught you. Maybe there is a personal trauma or abuse in your history that caused you to buy a lie. Perhaps your expectations about a given situation caused you to buy a lie. Maybe it’s something you heard or a repetitive thought.

Family Ties and Lies

It is not abnormal to grow up in a family where parents are relatively unaware of how their behaviors affect their children. Mothers and fathers are imperfect people who often fall short of meeting the emotional needs of their children.

My husband grew up with parents who truly loved him and did many things to demonstrate their love. But in spite of that, Roger was greatly affected by the anger he saw in his father.

The feelings created by his dad’s temper caused Roger to fear that his father didn’t love him. Despite clear evidence contradicting his belief, once Roger bought into the lie it was nearly impossible to drive it out. The fear brought on by the lie impacted much of his young life.

Roger remembers working out in the garage with his dad one day when he was about eleven or twelve years old. Roger’s job was to hold a wooden board still while his dad flattened a piece of steel against it with a sledgehammer. As his father raised the

hammer to strike the metal, young Roger got scared and took his hands off the board. In his impatience and frustration, Roger’s father yelled at him. To this day, Roger remembers thinking, Now I know my dad doesn’t love me.

Off and on for years, the lie that he was unloved by his father stayed in the back of Roger’s mind. While he didn’t spend a lot of time consciously thinking about it, he always felt it nagging at him.

Some of the effects that this powerful lie created were hopeless and depressive feelings. It directly affected his self-esteem and the health of many of his relationships. And it certainly hindered his emotional bond with his father, limiting the love he was able to show toward him.

A personal crisis during his twenties led Roger to a counselor’s office. Once there, he finally began unpacking all of the lies he had held for so long. At the top of his list of lies was the belief that his father didn’t love him. But then came another list: evidence that his father really did love him.

Once Roger identified both his faulty belief as well as identifying the truth, he began a journey that led to inner healing, relieved depression, and gave him a better self-image and an improved relationship with his father and others.

Exposing the lie ultimately helped Roger better understand his dad and connect with him on a more loving and transparent level. It gave the two men an opportunity to bridge some of the areas where they felt distant.


If you are serious about wanting to change for good, you must constantly separate the truth from the lies in your life. Acknowledging the truth about, rather than buying into or believing, the lies embedded in your mind will require a very radical shift in your perception of your life.

You must identify the faulty beliefs and embrace the truth.

No matter the source of the lies, you will begin to change your life permanently when you identify the lies and discard them for truth. Once you have separated the lies from the truth, you will more clearly understand how your false beliefs have perpetuated destructive feelings, botched relationships, unhealthy obsessions, and patterns of failure. This is a powerful and practical method for snapping out of complacency and cycles of negative behaviors. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

    You continually scream at your children. Do you really think yelling is the most effective way to discipline them? Has it worked so far? When people scream at you, do you feel motivated to change?

    You are considering divorce. Do you believe the lie that marriage should be easier and that a vow for life is too hard to keep?

    You are stuck in a cycle of starvation and binging. Are you buying into a lie that you are unacceptable unless you look a certain way?

    You are unwilling to take a risk that could mean finally achieving your goal. Do you believe the lie that says you’re doomed to fail or that your critics might be right?

    You are maxed out on five credit cards. Do you believe the lie that says you are already this far into debt and a little more doesn’t matter?

    You relapsed and lost your sobriety again. Did you buy the lie that said you could handle hanging out with the old crowd?

Change begins when you recognize the truth about your life. Permanent change is yours when you let that truth continually adjust, improve, and change your behavior.

Though denial, blaming, or making excuses may initially be less humiliating than the truth, whenever you resort to these tactics, they will always hinder your progress toward your ultimate goals.

Change that is based on truth, rather than lies, is built on a solid foundation and will last.

Don’t delay any longer.

If the truth is that you are stuck, weak, addicted, in trouble, wrong, or need help . . . admit it. Say it out loud. Speak the truth. Then get on with it by letting the truth change your life.


Consider this novel idea: Let the lies die and begin to act like you believe the truth.

  • If you believed that your screaming was destroying your children’s self-esteem, would you still yell?
  • If you acknowledged that every marriage takes hard work and forgiveness, and that you must still work to rekindle the love, would you still consider divorce?
  • If you believed the truth that you are more than your outer, physical appearance, would you still punish your body with cruel starvation or overeating?
  • If you held on to the truth that your dream is your call in life, would you still play it safe and not take the risk?
  • If you believed that true value isn’t found in a new outfit or even a new car, would you still buy them if they put you into debt?
  • If you are an addict and you want to be sober the rest of your life, the truth is that you can’t use controlled substances—ever.
  • If you truly believed that, would you still tempt fate with a meaningless night on the town?
  • If you have sunk your teeth into a whole lot of faulty beliefs, it is no surprise that you are not experiencing permanent transformation! But there is no better day than today . . . or no better time than right now to start living like you believe the truth!

The Truth about . . .

I am going to ask you to look over the following lists of truths and consider their application in your own life. This is your opportunity to step outside yourself and be an observer. If something below exposes a lie in your life, creates discomfort, and even causes embarrassment, mark it and identify how it relates to you, even if looks or sounds ugly. That is exactly what “The Truth About . ..” list is supposed to elicit: an honest, transparent conversation with yourself—about yourself. Some of the areas may seem more relevant to you than others, but go ahead and read through each of them and think through them as you go.

At the end of each section, take a moment to respond to the questions as you identify the lies and replace them with truth in your life.


Unhealthy expressions and emotions such as anger can be as harmful and crippling as any physical addiction. Acknowledging the truth about the impact of anger on yourself and those around you might be extremely powerful in helping you begin to heal and change.

Mark any of the following truths that relate to you:

  1. Anger that is out of control will hurt, demean, separate, and even destroy relationships.
  2. Anger can result in physical and emotional illness.
  3. My anger isolates me.
  4. Anger can be controlled, and emotional abuse can be healed over time and with great humility.
  5. I have a problem with controlling my temper, language, or level and my tone of voice with_______________. This is an unacceptable way of communication.
  6. I am in close relationships with some angry people and have learned some hurtful ways of communicating my thoughts and feelings with people I know—and even with those I don’t know.
  7. I am wholly responsible for my emotions.
  8. I will not be successful in changing this area of my life without outside help and accountability. I must get professional help and/or join a support group until (those around me whom I have hurt with my anger agree that) I have made significant progress.
  9. The lie I am exposing about my anger is
  10. The real truth about my anger is
  11. This truth must affect the following behavior:



Addicts must accept the truth about the power of addiction. This belief will turn into a behavior when they make a nonnegotiable decision to quit, abstain, or stop “using” today and forever. If they insist on holding on to the lie that tells them they can be moderate or return to “using” after a specified period of time, they will not experience sobriety for a lifetime. Sobriety requires a complete and total change in your perception of the truth.

Complete abstinence is the only way for addicts to experience their goal of permanent transformation. Instead of making a vague attempt to “cut back,” addicts must make a specific decision—based on the truth—to abstain forever. Otherwise, permanent transformation remains elusive, and setbacks and relapses are guaranteed.

If you struggle with an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or sex, this may be the first or the fiftieth time you are acknowledging your struggle. Today, see how many of the following statements ring true in your life. Fill in the blanks to identify your particular struggle(s). No matter your past mistakes, if you desire to move forward, you must be truthful about your present.

  1. I am addicted to _________.
  2. Staying away from _________________ is a problem for me.
  3. I have not been willing or able to abstain from this up until this point, yet I desire to do so.
  4. I can’t seem to let go of it. It has a hold on me. Therefore, I want to change my behavior in regard to _________________.
  5. This has hurt my relationships and affected many areas of my life such as ________________________________________.
  6. If I control or abstain from ___________________, a number of important relationships will immediately improve in my life (spouse, friends, co-workers, children, etc.)
  7. If I abstain from ___________________, I will relieve myself of the constant pressure of maintaining moderation . . . a line I cross over occasionally/regularly/often.
  8. If I abstain from ___________________, I will have to change some/many/most of my friends and some/many/most of the places where and with whom I spend time.
  9. If I abstain from ___________________, I will stop the generational abuse/addiction and set an example of sobriety for all my family members.
  10. If I abstain from ___________________, I will gain respect for myself from others.
  11. If I abstain from ___________________, I must tell others of my decision (instead of hiding or avoiding it.)
  12. In order to abstain from ___________________, I must attend support meetings for those who struggle with abuse and keep an honest account of my consecutive days of sobriety. I must become accountable to one person who will be my sponsor.
  13. If I abstain from ___________________, I will have new freedoms that I deeply desire. I will be able to build and rebuild important relationships, spend my time differently, and (personalize for your unique situation).
  14. The lie I am exposing about my addiction is The real truth about this area is
  15. This truth must affect the following behavior


Unless an overweight person accepts the truth that he or she must watch how often and how much he or she eats and is willing to exercise regularly, lasting change in body shape and size will remain forever elusive.

Mark any of the following truths that relate to you:

  1. Everyone has a certain body type, metabolism, height, and shape that is unique to them and influenced by their genetics.
  2. Food is intended to fuel the body, and exercise releases energy and burns calories as a part of its function. People who fuel their body according to its needs (and not in excess) will maintain a healthier weight for their height.
  3. I have unhealthy obsessions about food and exercise such as
  4. I struggle to control my weight because
  5. I have struggled to find the right amount of exercise and the appropriate amount of food intake since _______________ (age/date).
  6. Short-term, yo-yo diets and fad fitness plans do not work for me. In order to decrease inches or weight, I must reduce my caloric intake and increase my calorie-burning activities.
  7. Weight management cannot be considered a short-term goal.
  8. I must get outside help to develop a healthy eating and exercise plan that is realistic and specific to my life, age, income, and goals.
  9. I must attend regular support meetings and/or exercise classes where someone keeps me accountable to my goals.
  10. Paying attention to my daily eating and exercise habits is a healthy, manageable, and very successful way to achieve and maintain permanent weight loss.
  11. I can no longer make excuses for myself.
  12. The lie I am exposing about my body is
  13. The real truth about my body is
  14. This truth must affect the following behavior:


If a procrastinator understands the consequences of her behavior but refuses to admit the truth about her dismal time-management habits and their negative affect on herself and others, she will continually, perpetually, repeatedly fall back into her old patterns. If she is unwilling to live by the truth and change her time-management habits immediately, she will not see permanent transformation in her life today or tomorrow. Change begins with incorporating the truth through behavior modification today and continues through tomorrow, the next day, and the next.

Mark any of the following truths that relate to you:

  1. Delaying, postponing, and putting off projects and/or being continuously late for meetings, classes, work, and appointments are self-destructive and selfish behaviors.
  2. Habitual procrastination and/or tardiness will result in difficulties in my workplace and relationships.
  3. I am not realistic about the time it takes for me to complete a project, from start to finish, or about the amount of time it takes to get somewhere.
  4. I have to change my behavior and my attitude about respecting and honoring other people’s time as much as I do my own.
  5. I must get up earlier. This might require setting more than one alarm clock and/or hiring a wake-up phone service.
  6. I must start a project earlier in the day or week than I have done previously. I must set my due date earlier than the final due date in order to give myself a little more room to complete the project.
  7. I cannot allow interruptions to steal my focus. Therefore I have to turn off the television until I finish my work.
  8. I have to turn off the telephone and/or let the answering machine take calls and then return them only after I have met my project goals for the hour or the day.
  9. I will set rules about reading or responding to e-mail or web searching until a project is completed for the day.
  10. I will notify my friends that I’m temporarily unavailable, asking them not to spontaneously invite me to join them in activities we enjoy until my deadline is met.
  11. Procrastination and tardiness can be lifelong problems. In order to achieve permanent transformation in this area of my life, I will have to work at it and fight for it daily. But the personal and professional results of a changed life will mean improved relationships and productivity.
  12. The lie I am exposing about procrastination is
  13. The real truth about my procrastination is
  14. This truth must affect the following behavior:


If a parent continually screams and yells at her child, exhibiting out-of-control, demeaning behavior, a child will gradually lose respect for authority. A parent who fails to act on the truth about the damage she is causing will continue to speak rudely and negatively toward a child. The consequences of failing to remember this truth will not only teach her child poor communication skills but also severely impair the child’s self-esteem. The parent also risks losing an affectionate and loving adult relationship with the child. The lie wins.

Mark any of the following truths that relate to you:

  1. Parenting is a lifelong adventure.
  2. As a parent, I am a caretaker of my child. How I speak, touch, encourage, discipline and mentor him or her should come from a place of love and patience.
  3. Every child is an individual who will learn and grow at different stages because of his or her unique personality and genetic makeup.
  4. What works for one child will not necessarily work for another child.
  5. I must seek to understand my child’s strengths and personality and build him or her up with encouragement.
  6. My child should be treated with the same kindness, control, and respect with which I desire to be treated.
  7. I alone am responsible for my emotions.
  8. The lie I am exposing about my role as a parent is
  9. The truth about parenting that I must embrace is