The Nature of Change
It is inevitable that at some point, you will experience a moment that wakes you up from the day-to-day routines you have settled into. In a moment of clarity, you realize that something has to change. A needed change might range from a small annoyance to a huge life decision that needs re-evaluating. You may find yourself overwhelmed by the demands of your current life roles or frustrated by a dead-end job you have outgrown. You may feel that you no longer connect with your partner in the ways you used to or that the fighting has become a constant stressor in your day. Maybe you are just tired of the endless cycle of negative thought patterns, the silent inner hum of anxiety, the constant reminders of an unprocessed loss, the emotions continuously triggered by a past trauma, or the desire to stay in bed under the covers and avoid what each new day might bring.
Regardless of the stressor, you realize that something in your life is no longer working.
We all hit points of growth that require us to pause, reflect, and re-evaluate whether this is the way we want our lives to go. This can cause feelings of tension as the costs of the status quo begin to gradually outweigh the benefits of things remaining the same. You may feel an inner pull towards growth and acknowledge that the pot you’ve been planted in no longer contains the space or nutrients for you to flourish where you are, as you are.
Sometimes, change for the sake of self-improvement is not the first line on the agenda. Most people do not come to counseling to improve their already close-to-perfect lives. Most people just want to stop hurting. They come hoping for immediate relief from pain and this -please hear this- is reason enough for wanting to change. While there are certainly ways to temporarily manage symptoms, long-term and meaningful change is a process that requires moving through painful emotions rather than skirting around them. It requires self-reflection, deep commitment, and intentional practice.
Creating a new way of being in the world is difficult and you may have a lifetime of practice in an old way of being that is no longer serving you. Certain defense mechanisms and coping strategies may have served you well over the course of your lifetime but it is possible that those protective factors are outdated, weighing you down, and no longer necessary for survival.
Change can look differently for everyone. Maybe you need to process a loss, a heartbreak, or a trauma. Maybe you need to feel a buried emotion like anger, sadness, or disappointment. Maybe you need to release a toxic emotion like resentment or bitterness. Maybe you need to offer something to someone in your life like forgiveness or understanding. Maybe you need to receive something that is being offered to you like forgiveness, encouragement, or love. Maybe you need to embrace a new way of relating to yourself through self-compassion and acceptance. Maybe you just need a new way of seeing what is in front of you right now.
Over the next season, I will be exploring some ways that you can approach the process of change. Some of these topics include: uncovering internal motivation, committing to the process, preparing for growth, doing the hard work of change, moving forward, and celebrating how far you have come.
I hope to encourage you that on the other side of this journey is a new way of living and being; that it is possible to live confidently, courageously, and deeply connected. And if the journey to more abundant living feels daunting, remember that the pain of growth far outweighs the pain of remaining in a space that is too small for you to flourish.