The Challenge of Change

leaves changing color, change, learning to change, subtle

People come to therapy looking for change. Change in their circumstances, their family members, their spouses, and their feelings. “I just want to feel better,” or “I just want to be happy,” they say. “If only they would…, then I could….”

What they don’t really want is to change themselves. So, I am constantly saying, “You can’t change anyone else. You can only change yourself.” 

“Yes, but…” is a typical response while they go on to explain the partner, the job, the house, the circumstances, must change for them to do so. 

While it is true that your environment and the people you live and work with influence how you think and feel, transformation that significantly impacts your life depends on your own willingness to well—change. To go deep inside yourself, to see your motivation and behavior from another perspective. To acknowledge that the parts of yourself that you don’t like often serve a valid purpose.

It requires a willingness to let go of self-protective behaviors that are sometimes self-sabotaging. To be ready to forgive yourself for past mistakes, to forgive others for hurting you, and to accept forgiveness from others that you have wronged. 

Being open to questioning long-held beliefs and assumptions is foundational to lasting change, especially as it relates to anxious or depressing thoughts. Is this thought true? Is it always true? Is there another valid way to think about it? Altering how you think is most often the key to modifying your feelings. 

It is equally important to accept and validate your positive qualities. To cheer for the ways in which you have overcome, done well, and been helpful to others. To celebrate growth. 

No one is 100 percent right or wrong, good or bad. Which is to say we are all human, imperfect, and at times in need of growth and change. Genuine change is a tall order. It takes courage and it takes time. Your faith can be a powerful resource and mentors, friends, or therapists can be helpful. 

The most vibrant, healthy people are those who remain open to growth and change throughout their lives. It is a goal worth pursuing!

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