As a counselor and a coach, I work constantly with the concept of change: what brings it about, what it entails, and what the realities are around readiness, commitment and the resistance to allow it to happen. Heartbreakingly I also get to witness the “delusion” of denial when one party gets manipulated into thinking the partner/friend/sister/parent/child is “all better” overnight, or is being fed the crumbs of small attempts to make it look good on the outside.
But I think real transformation requires real struggle. We must let go of what is/was to have/be the new. That’s not always easy, and it can raise real anxiety and resistance, even when we say we want things to change so badly. Real change requires heart, soul, learning, humility and sometimes repeating life lessons until the pain gets so bad we just can’t stand it anymore. So before you buy into the sale of “things are great now”, either within yourself or a loved one, read on.
Real Change is Bought and Paid For. You are really feeling the negative Impacts. These can range from continued conflict in relationships, feelings of anxiety and depression, irritability and unhappiness. Betrayal or other manipulation by others. Sabotaging goal completion. The list goes on. You are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired of status quo. You’ve learned or are learning some hard lessons and you are finally ready not to repeat them. Same goes for others in your life. Acceptance of where they truly may be – based on facts not your wishes – is very wise.
Real Change Means Taking Responsibility. We can’t change what we don’t own, and this includes our fear of taking ownership. Sounds crazy out loud – why would you want someone else to own your feelings? Your needs? Your choices? One reason is that way you won’t screw it up. You can just continue to blame everyone else for how you feel or why you are stuck where you are. Owning your choice to change is one of the most life-changing things you can do.
Real Change Focuses on the Long Game. Becoming committed to follow through and to continue changing will ensure success that is lasting. I know it’s so tempting to want a quick fix when you’re in so much emotional pain, but that never lasts because it’s not real. Realizing it takes time to process, struggle with and practice new understandings and new behaviors is key. You want to cement small changes that build upon each other, such as starting out setting small limits with safe people as you build up the courage to leave your relationship or the toxic boss.
Real Change Focuses on Reality. This means that until one can, let’s say, admit they have an issue, become committed to working on the issue are ready to actually change it, things won’t magically get better. This also include the seemingly “overnight transformation” you may have witnessed in another or in yourself. It’s fantasy, and if someone is pressuring you to get back together or reconnect after they changed overnight they are manipulating you. Don’t but it. Remember the rule “unless and until”. Unless and until they have better boundaries, look at their behavior, do the grief work, etc. etc they can’t possibly be healthier. No one can. The universal process applies to each of us with no exceptions. The work takes what it takes, and it takes time.
There’s so much more to this than there is time and space here, but I think you get the idea. Real transformation is a struggle, a process, and is full of angst at times and joy at others – and every emotion in between. The difficult mountain climb we remember. And cherish. Because it’s real.