Image by Sir Mervs
This is the ‘bad news’ about wanting to be happier, wanting our lives to be better – something has to change – our behaviour, habits, lifestyle, choices, relationships – somewhere something has to change.
If we keep doing the same things in the same ways we will get the same results. It sounds obvious and is. And yet . . .
At some level I think all of us want things different without anything changing. And criticising ourselves for it doesn’t help in my experience.
It’s easy to be ashamed of this reaction. It’s embarassing – it is foolish thinking after all. I suspect few of us want to own up to this kind of childishness (including the one typing this).
I’m a bit uncomfortable with this reaction though. Do we really want to be so resolute? This can easily become a harshness and impatience. I don’t see being unkind to ourselves as a virtue – any more than being unkind to others is.
Perhaps it is better to recognise our regret. Our feelings may have important information for us. If we need to give up a favourite indulgence to lose weight (if you think this is important for your health) then perhaps we need to listen to our sadness. Perhaps we need to replace the indulgence with something that both feels good and is good for us.
It is easy to judge the child-like part of us for not thinking well. But then, children are like that. We don’t want an eight-year-old running our life, but being nasty to an eight-year-old is nothing to be proud of.
If we listen to our reluctance and regrets I think we can also gain insight into why we do what we don’t want to do. A friend of mine wanted to give up smoking. He had tried many times. In thinking about what smoking did for him that nothing else did, he found that it was time out. It was the only time he gave himself a break. He was much more successful in stoppiing smoking once he could take time out without the cigarettes. I think if we can listen to our reluctance and regrets we can learn valuable lessons.
When we listen to our reluctance and regrets we can perhaps gain insight into why we do what we don’t want to do. Listening to the part of us that doesn’t want to change can help us change.
Our unwillingness to change can also help us get specific. We don’t want to do a particular thing – give up the smoking break, that favourite food or relationship. This can assist us to know what the first step on the journey is. To find another way to take a break, exchange one particular food or relationship for another.
I think we can be both resolute and kind, insightful and merciful. Here’s a summary of how to change in a way that takes account of our reluctance.
- What is the change we desire?
- What is it’s motivation?
(Once you know this you may decide to not pursue the change. Eg. losing weight to look like a supermodel may not be realistic – it sure isn’t for me! Even if realistic it may not be desirable – do we really want to dance to another’s tune to this extent?
- What is the resistance (reluctance, regret, sadness . . .)?
- What is the information this has for me?
- Do I wish to change what I want changed or how I wish to go about making the change?
- What’s the first step?
Have you found resistances like regrets and sadness when you have set out to make positive changes in your life? Have you found it useful to take account of these. I’d love to hear your experience in the comments.
If you like this post you might also like:
Regret can benefit ourselves and our relationships
Five Things to do for the child inside you
Embracing our conflicts: one method for personal change
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