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Changes

Change is constant, it is said that it is the most reliable thing in life. Despite that, many people put a great deal of energy into avoiding it at all costs. Sometimes it is extremely difficult to embrace change. Even when we know whole heartedly that we need to change, something within us resists. There is a lot of mental and emotional resistance when it comes to the process of change. By the time most people reach a point when they decide that they are ready for change they are in such discomfort that they can’t continue down the same road any longer. I have seen the pain that brings people to rehab centers, it can take a great deal of pain to commit to changing the way you live your life. There is a saying that you change for two reasons, “either you learn enough that you want to, or you’ve been hurt enough that you have to” author unknown. It is interesting to think about what gets people to finally make the changes that they have decided against in the past. What makes this time different? When is enough finally enough? How do we come to these last straw moments by which a switch is ignited from within? The time someone gives up drinking for good, or leaves their toxic relationships behind, to do whatever it is to take new steps towards a positive future. I have seen people walk through the doors of rehab who were so bound and determined to change that they could have been anywhere and gotten sober, I have also seen the reverse to be true.


One of my favourite professors Victor Parliament once said that in relationships fighting is not a bad thing. He went as far to say that it is a good thing when done correctly. He believed that it was positive in the sense that it was the strong emotions that drove people to discuss the things that they wanted to say but had previously withheld. Even an ideal relationship is not without disagreement and strife, the struggle grows the relationship. An important indicator of the health of a relationship is shown in the aftermath of a disagreement. Do changes happen? If there is no change in the relationship after a disagreement then it is just the same broken record going round and round. It shouldn’t be one person doing all the changing either, it needs to be reciprocal to be healthy. Arguments are good when they get people to make positive changes. When the change doesn’t happen that is when there is cause for concern.


Bad days and difficult times play an important role in keeping our lives on track. The down times help us to gain perspective of what we want and perhaps more importantly what we don’t want in our lives. The death of someone close to us teaches us about love, and what is important in our lives. We learn a lot from difficulties, they give us perspective. Growth and learning come from hardship, these periods give us the impetus to change direction, to alter our course and to align ourselves with who we want to be and how we want to live out our days. No one changes when they are content with their current circumstances. “Without rain nothing grows, learn to embrace the storms of your life” author unknown. When you are down and out, think about what you want in life, write that down; then think about the things you don’t want in your life, write that down, that is step number one. Step number two, break the first part down into small achievable goals.


The interesting thing about the popular model of change used in therapy, the Transtheoretical Model of Change, is that the majority of the work happens before the actual change is implemented. It appears that the ‘bad feelings’ we experience fuel our initiative to change. People don’t typically wake up one day and realize that they want a divorce, it takes time to understand through their feelings that they want, need and are finally ready to make a change. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent.” Behavioral change is a psychological process with spiritual roots; by which we transform doom into hope, dark into light and pain into happiness. The process of change is how we turn negative situations into positive opportunities for growth.


Scholars believe that Sir Charles Darwin work on evolution has been largely misinterpreted. They believed that the basis of Survival of the Fittest does not suggest that it is those with the strongest genetics who survive as was previously believed but is more accurately interpreted as about being adaptable to change. "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change” said Sir Charles Darwin. His work was trying to teach us to learn to roll with change, not against it. Darwin was a naturalist who traveled the world and observed animals in their native habitats. He noted the way in which the bodies of animals changed to adapt to certain aspects of their environments, like the way a bird’s beak changed to crack shells of local crustaceans. Learning to adapt and to embrace change is not just important on an individual level, but is critical to the survival of our species. We have to determine what is working in our lives, such as those things which support us and make our lives better, and to acknowledge what is not working; the things which contribute to our unhappiness. By first acknowledging the things that are contributing to our downfall we can then stop doing these things and make changes in our attitudes, values and behaviours until improvements are accomplished.


The western culture tends to have a restrictive attitude towards change. People are often scared of the unknown, they like what is familiar to them, even if it is killing them. By the time most people have decided that it is time for change, problems are undeniably bad. Denial is an interesting defense mechanism. Reaching a point when you realize that you need to change is not a bad thing, although it almost always feels like it is. Your pants don’t fit, you are broke, or maybe it is that you’re beyond the point of tired of being lied to and used for someone else’s profit and then told that it is for your own good. Things fall apart before they can be put back together. The first step is admitting that there is a problem. The remedy for denial is acceptance. You can’t fix what you won’t admit is broken. Albert Einstein once said, “the measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” The only permanent thing in this world is change. The healthiest thing you can do is learn to recognize when things are not working as well as they could be, and to make changes towards a better life. Learning to embrace change is an important part of living a healthy life. As Willy Brandt once so eloquently stated, “it often takes more courage to change one’s opinion than to keep it.” Have courage and embrace change, stop running from the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. In fact, the more uncomfortable your situation, the more motivated you are to change it; and that’s a positive thing. It was those who were motivated in rehab who changed their lives in miraculous ways. It is the bible states that the truth will set us free; the hard part is admitting what the truth is, once we do that though the healing begins.

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