So many things can get in the way of changing. Hopelessness can suffocate the tender beginnings of change, such as pretending that merely attending 50 minutes of therapy is more than enough effort. Profound anxiety can interrupt trying something new. A long history of resentments that feels like there is no bottom to it can add to your “why bother” feelings. Shame and regrets are so easy to drown in, instead of new behaviors. New Year’s Resolutions can take place after years of determined trying.
Quiting smoking, drugs, alcohol or eating healthy after a heart attack has a 24-32% success rate. It is part of being human that it is a complicated process to sustain change.
The beginning of change is self-awareness. It’s ordinary to be afraid to look at what needs to be different. It’s easy to maintain the status quo. The pay-offs of change often seem too remote and distant. Taking responsibility for your own dark side can be very daunting.
Often I will brings kids into therapy to speak their truth to parents. A parent who is drinking too much can deceive themselves while building a personal myth that it’s really not that bad. In a safe environment, greater truths can be revealed and motivation can be inspired. People will do a lot for their kids. Their kids will feel the relief of telling their secrets that have become overwhelming burdens.
Of course, this is done in a supportive environment where trust has built over time on authenticity. This is not a harsh in-your-face intervention, it is respectful of everyone who participates and the parents have agreed to invite their children, based on genuine interest in knowing their experience. So take this idea and implement it in your own life, by taking the risk of asking your kids two ways you could improve as a parent. Be curious, open and ask them to be honest. They might be a part of giving you inspiration to change. Ask your best friend, or a sibling or an Aunt/Uncle.
Change requires understanding what’s good about the kooky things you’re doing. Over eating provides immediate comfort. Sex with other people is exciting. Drugs help numb you to the profound pain required of living. Drinking helps you leap over your social anxiety. You have to respect what it does before you can change whatever it is.
Commitment and follow through are another tricky part of the process. You have to decide it matters, it’s important and take action. It’s not enough to think about it. If you can stay with something for 90 days or more, you are more likely to be on your way to success. Building character is staying with the process of change and not getting distracted – and accepting it’s really hard work.