Struggling to change

“Change: it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.”

If you have been reading this blog for a while now, you will know that I am a huge proponent of personal growth and change. I personally am on a lifelong pursuit to explore who I am and how I see myself in the world and in relation to others, and to discover as many tools as possible to help me do achieve these things. One reason I write this blog is to process through the daily lessons I am unpacking and to make sense of everything I am attempting to learn and create in my life. What I write is less about having it all figured out and sharing my knowledge with the world and more about going through my own personal journey and inviting others to share it with me as we are all struggling to become the human beings we want to be.

We all struggle with change at times, big and small, and we all have ways in which we would like to improve or expand or explore other aspects of ourselves. Change can be scary and difficult but it is well worth the fight. A constant examining and redefining of who we are helps us adapt and flow with the inevitable changes that happen around us all the time, as life continues on whether or not we decide to jump on board.

While the basic core of who we are remains the same throughout our lives, there are always ways to be improve, to examine our thoughts and behaviors, to explore what is helping us thrive and what is holding us back. This doesn’t mean that we are not “good enough” as we are already, but our time on Earth is one big opportunity to learn – there is so much to know about life and love and happiness and so little time in which to discover it all! Every day on this planet is a new lesson, every person who walks into our lives has something to teach us, every frustration we face helps us uncover a little more of the person we are and helps us define who it is we want to be.

Change takes practice

But even when we learn a new lesson, that doesn’t mean the change we would like to make is always immediate and it is important to remember that it won’t necessarily come right away. Even when we have life-changing, awe-inspiring experiences that cause us to question our beliefs or see something in a completely new way, it can take time to process these events and incorporate the learning back into our daily lives.

This is in part because the beliefs and habits that have become deeply ingrained in us took years, possibly even an entire lifetime to create and cannot be quickly undone. They were diligently repeated and solidified time and time again, day after day, over and over until they became a part of our normal and a part of who we are, even if the entire process was not a conscious decision we were making at the time.

To undo the patterns, habits, and beliefs that no longer serve us, we must be equally as diligent in creating new ones to take their place. We must practice over and over again, noticing and catching ourselves when the old patterns come up and gently reminding our brains of what we are replacing them with. Change takes time and if we want our new beliefs to become as much a part of us as the old ones, we must be patient and consistent.

For some reason, we seem to accept that practice is necessary in some aspects of our lives, but in others we expect it should just come effortlessly We all know that if we want to learn an instrument, it’s not as easy as simply deciding “I think I will play the violin today!” and suddenly having the knowledge and skill to do so. It takes not only time and practice, but tools and books and lessons and research. Sure, one could eventually learn to play the violin with no outside help if they spent long enough focusing solely on that instrument, but it would be a lot easier and a lot less time consuming with some help. And besides, who has the time these days to focus all their energy on just one single pursuit with no outside assistance?

In the same way, personal growth takes time and practice and tools and books and lessons and research. It’s a challenging path to take, but we have so many resources at our disposal and we don’t have to do it completely alone! And while it may be a challenging path, it is also rewarding as shit! Making the decision to change something and then watching your own progress over time as you become better and better at the thing you want to improve is such an amazing experience. Not only that, it’s a lot of fun!

Forgive yourself

Sometimes when we want to make a change and it doesn’t happen right away, we get awfully frustrated with ourselves. I have had this happen so many times – I thought I had figured it all out, that I have discovered a new mindset and a new way of looking at things. It seemed to be going great for a few days, or even a few weeks, but then some event or interaction would arise that triggered my old patterns and before I knew it I was acting in ways I thought I had left behind.

It is easy in such moments to feel like we have failed and it is important to remember that we have not. It is simply a case of two steps forward one step back, because progress is not always linear, especially when it comes to self-growth. We are human and we are messy and our brains do not run in simply one direction. It would be great if change was as easy as just flipping a switch, turning one behavior off and another behavior on. But it’s not.

In these moments, when something we thought we had left behind comes rearing back up, we can pause to simply acknowledge what has happened, recognize that change is a daily practice, and use it as a chance to build more and more inner awareness. What exactly was it that triggered this behavior? What could you have done differently in that situation? How can you help yourself respond in a more positive way next time?

If we see these moments as failures and decide that we are incapable of change, not only will we give up, we will be less likely to try to make positive changes for ourselves in the future. When we operate from a place of shame, it is very easy to plunge into a downward spiral, to convince ourselves that we are useless and incapable of being the person we truly want to be. It is easy to find evidence to support this belief, as so many of us have spent the majority of our lives looking for every little fault and giving ourselves more criticism than credit.

But if we can remember to allow ourselves the beauty of being imperfect, if we can come home at the end of a challenging day where it feels like we did everything wrong and still offer ourselves love and forgiveness, that is when we become truly able to open up to becoming the best possible versions of ourselves. We can see the change we want to make without feeling ashamed that we didn’t “stick to it” the way we hoped we would. We can reset, replenish our hearts, do something small to generate self love, and try again the next day, knowing that each day it will get a little bit easier as we practice, practice, practice.

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