Change. It is a loaded concept and comes with many complex emotions and understandings that most of us would rather avoid than embrace.
For example, if you admit that there is a need for change, isn’t that admitting that you could be better...and if you could be better, doesn’t that mean you aren’t enough? And quite frankly not being enough brings up a whole lot of other thoughts and emotions that are a bit unpleasant. So better to just stay the same and not toy with changes.
Or how about the idea that to change is to make a choice. It is to choose ownership of your challenges...it’s also to choose accountability and vulnerability which...sounds like a lot to take on. Which leads us back to those unpleasant thoughts and feelings that we keep trying to avoid.
Change brings about strong emotional experiences which are easily recalled in our memory. As a matter of fact, our memory often makes the strongest connections to events that incur vast amounts of emotions. So it makes sense that when we think of change we are quickly visited by memories in which it didn’t go all that well and that perhaps left us with pain. Thus we resist. We decide that change is unpleasant and leaves us with pain, and therefore not worthwhile. Being depressed is difficult, but changing hurts worse and well, at least ‘I know this kind of pain, and besides what if I try to change but fail’?
Resist, avoid, distract. We become emotional ninjas in the face of change, maneuvering at every corner to avoid the unpleasantness of vulnerability and accountability. Resistance is what happens when we straddle the line of letting go of familiar, albeit unhelpful, habits and moving toward embracing the challenge of different. Sometimes different is so terrifying that it is hard to imagine how it might lead to better. It is hard to imagine that getting out of bed, leaving the house, socializing, exercising, and taking on new perspectives might lead to feeling satisfied and fulfilled. It’s hard to imagine those things as being sustainable. Thus we resist. We resist ideas about change, we avoid taking accountability for our mental health, and we distract ourselves from feeling vulnerable to the pain of acknowledging what isn’t working.
What if. What if we for just one day we looked resistance straight in the eye and said “no thank you”. Today I will be the change I need. What if for just one day we said “maybe”. Maybe it will feel better to give something new a chance. Finally, what if vulnerability and accountability left you feeling validated and empowered. What if those feelings lasted for more than one day.
Change is a critical and unavoidable part of our lives, and it’s why most people seek therapy. There is the nagging voice that has realized change is necessary, and that the reality is that to not change would ultimately lead to feeling worse. So when the time comes and resistance rears it’s stubborn head, let yourself consider the “what if”, and go from there.