What does it really mean to change?
To expect people to be willing to go to all the effort of changing is a big ask. Here's why.
When it comes to the question of whether or not people can really change, I’ve always pondered the question in regards to some other person smartening up their act in a way that makes them more desirable to others.
I’d wonder, can this boyfriend stop drinking so much? Can that brother stop ignoring my calls all the time? Can that best friend stop canceling catch ups when I desperately need to unload all my dramas onto them?
In my mind I’ve mapped out what these changes look like, how their new behaviors could enhance our relationship, why they would feel very good about themselves for making me feel good about them.
It’s only now that I understand how utterly presumptuous that all was of me.
To expect that these people would just be willing to go to all the effort of changing just because my feelings got hurt or my silly little ego got bruised. It’s not to say that they wouldn’t do it because they don’t care about me, it’s just that changing is no walk in park.
Do you know how much strength and determination and willpower it takes a person to change? How difficult it is for someone to stop themselves from acting on urges and impulses and auto-responses that feel natural and familiar and easy to them?
Of course you know, you’re human, aren’t you?
It’s like when we ask toddlers to start potty training. For the kid’s entire life up until this point, it has been allowed to do its doodoos whenever and wherever it feels like. Just in its little pants! And then suddenly, it’s expected to muster the self-control and personal accountability to hold it all in until it’s made its way to one very particular spot in the house before it’s allowed to release.
That’s crazy town. That’s so difficult. Apparently that causes hemorrhoids in adults.
But that, my friends, is change.
Whether it’s emotional, behavioral, habitual, psychological or some delicious cocktail of everything, change is when someone makes the conscious effort to rewire the brain, to retrain the body; to master their emotions and to override their impulses.
And to poop in the potty.
It’s the ability to become aware of and address the things about yourself that make you stink.
And it’s with all this that I do believe it was rich of me to have any sort of expectation about other people changing before I was ever ready to face the fire myself. To assume that anyone could be bothered to exchange the ease of living on autopilot for a much bumpier life journey using driving manually.
Only recently have I started to make a few little cha-chas around my own change room because it’s been brought to my attention that it’s a necessary course of action if I want to have and hold healthier relationships in my life.
I’ve been shimmying from locker to locker, breaking open decade-old bolts and letting the stinky old gym bags full of egotistic behaviours spill out onto the vast ranges of my self-awareness.
I’m slowly picking up each tiny piece of deeply ingrained bad attitudes and unconscious reactions, and having to delicately remove the anti-social stains from my existence.
From the blaming language I’ve used and the difficulties I’ve had in seeing things from other people’s points of view, I am now learning to regulate my emotions and move past incidences that ruffle my feathers more quickly.
I sound like a real sunset on the beach, don’t I!
I’d say buy me a drink some time but I’m afraid this hot mess is taken.
I hear Amber Heard is single, though.
From what I understand, these behaviours formed in childhood, which is what happens when a kid doesn’t learn the tools needed to deal with the thoughts and emotions and impulses that cause them issues in those tender years.
So if someone spends their youth internalizing the chaos and confusion of their experiences, instead of being coached through the drama in real time, this will likely show up in the form of unhealthy approaches to other people and themselves later in life.
Thus, when you are like me and don’t want to continue to fumble your way through life, having unhealthy relationship after unhealthy relationship, you really have to be willing to muster the resilience to face the firepits of change.
Anyone reading this who has tried will agree, it’s really freakin’ hard.
And for anyone who is reading this and interested in a small piece of relationship advice from someone currently burning their feet on the hot coals of self-improvement, here it is:
When it comes to conflict in healthy relationships…
Even in the bleakest of hours.
The heights of emotions.
The blinding darkness of going to bed angry and upset.
You have to keep reminding yourself that you love the person.
YOU LOVE THEM, REMEMBER?!
Because it’s only with this ability to supersede a bruised ego that you’ll be able to assemble the humility to put your issues in the oven to stay warm while you have a heartfelt embrace with the person you love.
Keeping those issues in the oven means you can take them out later and either decide they were stupid, tasted nasty and throw them in the bin. Or you can serve them up hot to your couples therapist. Whatever. Both are fine.
SPEAKING OF CHANGE
Check out the video I made on this topic below.
That’s it from me, chicos. Write back.
Oh! Before you go!
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