In life we frequently get on a path and stay on it. We may be the first to complain about the path we are on, but often have no intention to change. Or, the changes we make are minimal and do not impact the overall situation. If we try making small inadequate changes, it leaves us feeling hopeless and helpless.
Why do we do this? I believe that often, we have not given ourselves the time or attention needed to genuinely reflect on the situation and pinpoint the root problems. We are blinded by symptoms and do not go much deeper than surface indicators. When the focus is on treating the symptoms, the actual problems never get addressed.
In the years I’ve practiced as a mental health counselor it has become apparent that awareness is half the battle. If you are always swinging the bat blindly in the air hoping to hit a moving target, you will likely end up creating more destruction than healing. So, the first step is to really start reflecting on your life.
Here are some basic questions to get you started:
- What makes you happy?
- What makes you sad?
- What irritates you?
- What energizes you?
- If you woke up and everything in your life was “better” what would life look like?
A second element that tends to paralyze people from change is fear. We often feel safer staying in a bad situation, because we know what to expect, then to take a chance at freeing ourselves from a damaging situation. We stay in toxic relationships too long, continue poor eating habits, and justify staying at jobs that make us miserable. Now, that said, there are often obstacles involved with making changes, but I would challenge each obstacle individually as we typically can find a way around it if we get creative enough. We typically are not as stuck as we envision ourselves to be.
A third barrier is that our fears can have more to do with others than they have to do with ourselves. We become afraid of what others will think of us if we make these changes. Societal pressures can put more fear in our hearts than actual tangible fears. Becoming aware of the fear of judgement is the first step in de-escalating the fear. The second piece comes in learning to love yourself and beginning to believe that you deserve happiness.
So what now? How do you start making positive changes in your life? First – Start investing in yourself. Simply giving yourself the gift of time to focus on self reflection can open up great awareness regarding areas that need movement and change. Second – Ask yourself the tough questions, read books and watch movies promoting positive change, and start developing a vision for what you would like your life to look like. Affirm these visions and start believing that you are capable of bringing this life to you. Third – Start taking on small challenges to make this possible. Look at the larger vision and start breaking down smaller, realistic, and attainable goals. When you start making positive steps forward you will eventually turn around and realize how far you’ve come. If you are moving forward, no matter how slow, you are making change.