We can all agree that change can be difficult, especially when the thing we want to change is something we have done for many years.
Socrates, a Greek philosopher said: "The unexamined life is not worth living." Though he was referring to his desire to understand death, it can also be used as a reminder that if we do not check in with ourselves periodically, we may not be living up to our true potential.
No one likes change. Change is scary and chaotic, and can take us out of our comfort zone. I have learned that the first step to changing anything is being aware that something needs to change. The second step is believing change is even possible.
People change because something in their lives is no longer working. Unfortunately, many of us wait to make the necessary changes because, although we don't like where we are, our fear of the unknown is greater than the pain of the thing we want to change.
The result is that we stay in an unhealthy environment much longer than we should. And we know it. The guilt and shame forms a vicious cycle that makes it that much more difficult to change the thing that is causing us pain.
If you are like me, you want to change, but you don't know how to do it. As a recovering alcoholic, it took me two years to understand that it wasn't the alcohol that was my biggest problem; it was my fear of the unknown and the fact that I didn't know how to start. Taking advice from my therapist, I made a list of memories, good and bad, that I felt were still a major presence in my life.
I studied each one, I analyzed them, turned them inside-out, and scrutinized how they affected my present-day life. I had to unlearn every negative message I received during my childhood. Because I was a sensitive introvert, I internalized everything. Being the second-to-the youngest of nine kids, I looked to others for validation and approval.
At the heart of my unhappiness was low self-esteem, which I continued to reinforce as I gew up. Every time I did something stupid or made bad decisions, I told myself I was a bad person and I deserved everything I got. I punished myself long after those I hurt forgave me. I played the victim to deal with the overwhelming self-loathing.
Once I stopped drinking and cleared my mind, I asked myself the same question I suppose many people ask: "Why am I the way I am?"
I knew something was wrong, I just didn't know what it was or what to do about it. It wasn't long before I realized I needed to find out how other people changed their lives. All it took was one step in the right direction and the changes occurred naturally.
I still get a little apprehensive when it comes to make changes in my life, but once I realize it is the natural order of things, I can relax and let it run its course.
Maybe it's the fear of change, rather than the change itself, that gets us all in a tizzy. By embracing change, realizing it's a part of life, and letting go of the outcome, we can save ourselves a lot of grief and grow from the experience, like we are supposed to.