Let me tell you what it feels like to initiate the process of change….because it’s not all glamorous…although that is what most people talk about.
To say change is simple is much too simplistic, for change is everything but simple.
Worth it…yes. Simple….far from.
Our natural instinct is to fight change because we are addicted to familiarity and comfort whether for our own good or not. Conquering the internal battle within ourselves is only half the equation. The other half are the struggles that take place outside of ourselves…our friends, our family, the people who are closest to us. They are also fighting their own battles of familiarity.
When we make a decision to make a significant change in our life, it is likely that our change has a direct impact on those closest to us, creating tension and possibly even conflict. Even the most loving, compatible relationships can be met with enormous confusion and emotion around change.
I don’t think I completely agree with the statement “Misery loves company”, as I feel that the statement “People love familiarity” is more accurate.
Because it isn’t just misery. The same thing applies to things that are commonly viewed as “good”. No more would a person who loves self-improvement be attracted to others who talk positively, practice kindness and walk with confidence than the shallow-minded person would draw out people who gain pleasure out of bad-mouthing, causing pain or creating drama. It goes both ways.
Because we are so fixated with familiarity, anytime someone shakes it up by making change, a whirlwind of emotion is bound to ensue. Fears and insecurities arise where there had once been acceptance. When fears and insecurities come flooding to the forefront, many have a tendency to create narratives that help them make sense of the situation, amplifying the tension.
This is one of the many sacrifices of change. It is also part of why making drastic change is exceptionally difficult to maintain.
A Short Story:
At the beginning of 2021, following an extremely rough 2020, I decided I needed big, drastic change. I had completely wasted 2020 creating an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
For me, the quarantine proved to be both a much needed break and also an excuse to fall into bad patterns. On one hand, I loved every minute of it because I was able to spend so much good quality time with my family. And then drink every night…ok, afternoon… because there wasn’t anywhere to be, no places to drive or shit to get done.
While this sounds mostly typical of what other Americans were doing during this time, I found it to be extra catastrophic for my mental health because I have a history of withdrawing from community in times of turmoil and retreating to my comfort zone of solitude. Temporarily solitude is good practice, and it is something I stress the importance of. But, when done repeatedly, over the course of several months, it can reek of an impending crisis. But this time, it wasn’t intentional, it just happened because the world shut down.
At the onset of 2021, knowing I was heading for disaster, I gathered a few people and put together a weight loss challenge for 2021. It was my attempt to add the element of community to hold me accountable for my goal to make changes in 2021. I knew that in order to lose weight I had to change my drinking habits because each and every one of those beers snuck up on me. Before I knew it, I was 30 pounds overweight.
Although the adjustment was hard, I started killing my goals. I lost 28 pounds. I was working out daily, eating healthier, getting stronger than I had ever been, and I gave up daily drinking. Seeing my body change right in front of my eyes was the motivation I needed to keep going and to stay consistent. My mental health was better than it had been in a long time, and I was finally starting to make plans about my future and began to plan what I wanted to do with my life.
I was so happy about where I was and where I was headed that when I would get invited places, I would panic and find excuses for why I couldn’t go. My life was no longer in alignment with theirs, and I didn’t want to lose the momentum I had going. It put me in a situation where I had to make a difficult decision between my truth and appeasing others. Call it a false dichotomy, but I’m an all-or-nothing kind of girl, and going all in meant I had to change who I socialized with. My choice to honor my truth was met with a slow transition to exclusion. And it was painful. It was painful to see some of the people closest to me not understand my goals. It was a painful realization that making a change for the betterment of my life…and that of my family’s…was received with tension and apathy rather than happiness for what I had accomplished and support of my living a better, healthier life.
And this is what they don’t tell you about change.
Change is lonely. It is hard. And your why better be strong enough to pull you through the naysayers, the negative comments and the pressure to go back to your old lifestyle.
Questions to ponder:
- What is my why for the changes I want in my life?
- Is my why big enough to pull me through the difficult times?
- Do I want this change bad enough that I’m willing to endure whatever turmoil comes with it?