Let’s face it. Making lasting changes isn’t the easiest feat out there. But it’s possible. Like really possible. So possible that I went into the business of helping people make healthy, long-lasting changes in their lives. But the reality is, making those changes takes some work, a set-back or three, and some other things that makes the whole process much harder than we realize.
So, what’s the deal with change and why can it be difficult for people to get going? Well, a few reasons. First off, making changes means we have to take some risks. Risks that may feel uncomfortable, confusing and maybe even weird because these changes in behaviors are totally new to us. But here’s the thing about risks. Without taking them, we do not grow. Growth requires that we get uncomfortable, do the thing we are afraid to do, and then continue to consistently take those risks over and over until we have a new pattern. And hopefully a new way of feeling and living.
Change can feel like loss. Whether it’s a tangible loss or not, we will always lose something when we start to make changes in our lives. Whether it’s feeling settled into the comfort that we developed from not taking risks, the status quo of the relational dynamic that we’ve created, or relationships that are no longer serving us, we will experience some kind of loss. And that loss can be painful, no doubt. But the question to consider here is, “how much more pain, sadness and suffering can I sit with before I can no longer tolerate this way of living?” If you are finding yourself completely stuck, full of despair or just plain depressed because of the situation you’re in, then maybe it’s time to face the reality that change needs to occur. And that you are the one who is responsible for kickstarting that process.
Making changes is 100% on you. Insert all the cheesy (albeit true) quotes here. You are one thousand percent responsible for your own actions. Even if you’re in a relationship that could use some healthy changes. You are still responsible for your part! The sooner you can identify the parts that you are contributing to your life, or relationship, that are unhelpful, the sooner you can start to shift how you are showing up. Accepting responsibility is the ultimate first step towards building a plan so you can start taking risks towards your personal growth.
Change can feel so out of reach. Sometimes, we get so stuck in our heads about the endgame—what we want our lives to look like when all of this change stuff occurs. But that can be super overwhelming for people because the picture is so big and we don’t know how to start to actually get there. And when we feel like the ultimate way of living is so far away, a lot of people give up (helllllo, fear!). If you feel like what you want to achieve is too far away, take a breath and start to formulate small, achievable steps you can take to start you off. By taking this route, you are more likely to remain consistent and on track with the healthy changes you want to make for your life. And don’t forget to kick that fear in the face!
Look, I get it. Change is hard. I sit with couples and individuals who are continuously stuck in their patterns and I see how hard it can be to get out of them. But I’m here to tell you it’s not impossible. It’s completely possible for you to take the steps needed to make small changes in your life that can be built upon. So, whether it’s figuring out a different way of communicating, setting boundaries, or taking that leap into a new career, you are completely capable of leaning in to take those risks.
~ Michelle Herzog, LMFT, CST