Clients tell me I am fond of telling them anxiety, depression, and other mental issues are not necessarily terminal illnesses. The other side of the coin, unfortunately, is that change is much harder than most people realize and takes a lot more time than most people are willing to invest. We all want to be better, stronger, more in charge, wiser, smarter, all together. We want it yesterday. We want the magic pill. As a counselor I am often frustrated by the lack of authentic commitment to change some clients have. If it doesn’t happen in a few months it is easy to become discouraged and ultimately go back to misery. Real change is hard.
Here’s a few thoughts I came across recently that people need to consider if they want to move forward:
1. To change, to become different, you must need to change; you must have sought change for a very long time. A whim, a stretch of bad luck, a passing desire, is not enough. You have to know precisely what you need to change. And you must also know what you’re willing to give – or give up – for it.
2. Glimpses of consciousness come at exceptional moments and are rare – for much of life, we remember only bits of things, moments at best. When you were a small child, you had all kinds of experiences: you learned your first words, you took your first step, but you don’t remember those moments. Yet you can take for granted that they happened. These moments, as dramatic but unmeasurable, take place every day.
3. There’s enough going on in any one hour, let alone any one day, to occupy your senses and your imagination and keep you from asking the bigger questions. For some that’s enough; they stay where they are and that is a happy ending. Getting to the end of each hour and each day is a sufficient accomplishment for them. But for others it’s like living in one room of a ten room house with the curtains drawn: for some of us, such self-limitation is a small, slow death.
4. Some parts of our lives leave only a trace while some cut a swath through our essential selves; you must decide which this is and act as you need to act. Ask your later self: what do you think I should do? Listen carefully. Your later self will answer and will tell you the hard truth.
5. With good change comes triumph: the realization you’ve been drinking skim milk all you life and suddenly taste cream. You’ve been living in the straw house and finally move into the brick one where the wolf can’t get at you. Nothing is more terrifying than hope. It’s an investment: you always run the risk of losing it entirely. But it’s useless to hang on to it and pretend it isn’t there. And if you believe in something that turns out not to be true, you think, there will be nothing so terrible as finding that out. Just because you’ve become tired of emotion, or outgrown it, doesn’t mean it’ll be simple to free yourself from it. It must be dismantled, not ignored.
6. So change. You know you have to make your life different from what it is; you know you must not stay where you are unless you are willing to risk misery to yourself and to others who love you; you know you have the courage to do it if only you can rid yourself of the weight of the judgment of others. Your integrity must outweigh their censure and your dignity and fierce love of life must triumph over their most well-intentioned needs to keep you fastened to an existence that is no longer your destiny.
by Gina Barreca
- 6 Things You Need To Know About Changing Your Life (psychologytoday.com)
- Living With A Perfectionist… Good Luck! (scott-williams.ca)