Following Through on Change

Deciding to make a change isn’t always easy. It takes a lot of insight and inner reflection to identify the change you want to make, and even more insight and inner reflection to figure out how to make it. The “how” might require research, seeking support from others, or even seeking professional help or support. Going through all of that can be hard work. Just recognizing the need for change and choosing to make the changes is courageous.

But in some ways, deciding to change, although it’s not easy in general, is the easiest part of the process. The toughest part for many people is actually following through.

New Year’s resolutions are a perfect case in point. Someone sees a need for change, for example the common “I need to lose ten pounds and eat healthier foods.” They say they’re going to do the thing. They tell other people they’re going to do the thing. They list the healthier foods they plan to eat, and maybe set an exercise goal. They might plan a reward for themself when they meet the goal, like buying that shirt they’ve been coveting. They set their intention: “I intend to be at a healthy weight and to do things to maintain it.”

But then the time comes to implement the plan. To start working on that intention. For some people, that’s when it falls apart. They have the list of healthier foods, but they still have holiday leftovers they want to finish off before they start the healthy eating thing. They have an exercise plan but it involves going to a gym, and they can’t seem to find time to do that. Even for people who do manage to start on the goal, plans might start to fall by the wayside after a week or two. They get frustrated and discouraged, and give up.

Deciding you’re going to change takes guts. But making lists and plans, and telling people what you’re going to do, isn’t enough. Setting intentions and putting the right energy out into the Universe isn’t enough. You have to take the actions too. If you want to lose weight, you have to actually eat the healthy foods and do the exercises. If you want to get a better handle on your temper, you have to actually realize you’re getting angry and walk away from the situation. And so on.

Too many people seem to think that all they have to do is set an intention and maybe say an affirmation or two, and what they want will come to pass. They might genuinely be unaware of the actions they need to take–and there are some coaches and other practitioners who will actually say that all you have to do is intend it and it will come to pass, so some people operate under the belief that that’s true. (Personally, I consider it extremely unethical and possibly harmful to tell anyone that intending it and thinking it is sufficient to actually change and grow, but that’s another post for another time.) Other people know they have to act in order to change, but they find reasons not to take those actions.

Every step of the process of change takes insight, determination, and courage. The step of following through on making the change also takes commitment. When you see a change you need to make, don’t only talk about it. Commit. Find the support you need in order to take those actions, and take them. And believe in your power to create the life you want.

Why Change?

Why change? Good question.

Life is a constant, ongoing process of change and growth. Unless you’re really, really determined, it’s pretty much impossible not to grow and change as you move through life. But some of that growth and change isn’t a conscious choice. It’s in response to things that occur in our lives, or simply the result of getting chronologically older and gaining more knowledge and experience. Change happens.

Conscious change, though, takes work, and to do that work, most people want a reason. That’s where getting tripped up and tangled in others’ opinions can happen. Changing solely for others doesn’t benefit anyone. For change to be effective and long-lasting, we need a self-focused reason to make it.

Sometimes we recognize something about ourselves that we think we might benefit from changing. We might not know how to start making those changes, but at least we know we want to make them. We’re consciously choosing to do something about a problematic trait or habit. We might need help figuring out how to change it, but it’s our decision, and if we do the work, it’s likely to become a permanent, positive change.

There are times when something about us is a problem and we don’t recognize it. Or we think it’s a problem that doesn’t require change when it actually does. In those cases, someone else might have to point out the issue to us so we become more aware. But even then, it’s still more effective to make the change because we see a reason to. Because we see a benefit to ourselves as well as others.

Early on after my kids and I moved in with my husband, when I was still working through some serious issues and still getting a handle on emotional regulation, sometimes I raised my voice when I was angry with my kids. I didn’t realize how much it upset my husband, or my kids, until my husband took me aside and told me it was really hard for him hearing me like that. My kids also told me they wished I would yell less.

I knew I was still working on effective emotional management. After nearly four decades of not being able to display any negative emotions for fear of what other people would do to me, I was finally in a place where I felt safe enough to stop suppressing the emotions. Unfortunately, that meant sometimes the emotion came out with an intensity that was out of proportion to whatever was going on. I knew this, but I didn’t always realize when the emotional display was out of proportion.

When my husband and kids had that conversation with me, I didn’t say or think, “I need to change for them.” They were the cause of me recognizing the need for change, but they couldn’t be the only reason for the change. I needed to change my behavior, and double down on learning better emotional regulation, for myself above all.

I chose to do the work and improve my emotional regulation because my behavior was hurting people I loved deeply and wanted to avoid hurting. Because the person I wanted to be was someone who took care of and protected those I loved. Because when I raised my voice and felt my temper rising to the boiling point, I saw in myself the people who had abused me, and I hated seeing that in myself. I wanted to build a life in which I could love myself. I wanted to create a space where my children might feel the love and safety I hadn’t had as a child or during my marriage to their father. I wanted to become the person I wanted to be.

When you identify a change you think you should make, take a moment to figure out why you want to make it. Are you doing what someone else has told you to do? Are you trying to change something about yourself that you’re okay with, but someone else isn’t okay with it and you’re trying to make them happy? If it’s a change someone else brought to your attention, do you have a self-focused reason to make it, or are you only doing it for them?

Ultimately, the one person on earth whose opinion of you matters, is you. You’re the one who has to live with who you are. You can’t “make” someone else happy, because you don’t control what anyone else feels or thinks. You can only create whether you are happy with yourself. So don’t just be the change you wish to see; be the primary reason you wish to see it.

Fighting the Violent Rabbit of Change

A lot of us talk about doing our inner work. Working on ourselves. Our mindset. Our health. We all have work we need to do, absolutely. Life is an ongoing process of change and growth, and to change and grow, we need to do the work.

But how many times do we say, “I’m going to work on this,” and it becomes busywork? The work becomes what we do to avoid the work. We say we’re going to do the work. We make lists of the things we’re going to do. We put it in our calendar. And then we look at the lists and calendar notices and say, “See? I’m working on it!”

Working on ourselves, doing our inner work, is scary. We’re conditioned to fear change. In some ways, we’re created to fear change. Our ego sees change and yells, “Change! Auughh! Run away! Run away!” It’s like change is that violent rabbit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and we’re the knights running away.

So our egos come up with every possible way to make us feel like we’re doing what we need to do, and feel like we’re making the changes, and think that things are happening, when they’re not. All we’re really doing is covering up the work we need to do with the busywork we’re doing so we can say “See, I’m working on it.” I know I’m guilty of this over and over again, and it’s something I’m trying to be better about.

Think about it. If you say you’re doing work on yourself, are you really? If you are, that’s great! But there’s no shame in saying, “I’m going to do the work,” and then having your ego convince you that you’re doing the work when you’re really not. That’s human. We’re human; we have egos. That’s what happens.

But sometimes we need to take a step back and look at the inner work we say we’re doing, at the inner changes we say we’re making, and decide, “Are we really doing this?” Or is our ego saying, “Look, I put it in the calendar! Look, I made a list! I’m working!” so it can keep running away from that violent rabbit of change?

Facing that violent rabbit is easier with support. Talk to friends or loved ones. Get professional help if you feel it’s warranted. Energy healing can also help bring up possible changes to make, and give you the clarity to make them. I have openings for new Chios clients now; please comment here or visit my Chios Energy Healing page for more information.

Getting In Balance

As I’ve mentioned in the past few weeks’ posts, there are a number of signs that your energy system might be out of balance, and a number of ways that might happen. There are also plenty of potential benefits to bringing your energy back into balance. But how can you do that?

The most effective way to rebalance your energy system and maintain that balance, once you’ve treated any physical or mental causes, is to have regular energy healing sessions with a skilled practitioner. But there are also things you can do on your own that will help.

  1. Rest. Our society is often focused on do, do, do, and achieve, achieve, achieve. We push ourselves to and past our limits. Parents not only deal with their jobs and other obligations and commitments, but also put themselves in the position of straining their resources for their children’s sake. Although “taking time to rest” might feel impossible, it’s important. A car can’t run on an empty gas tank.
  2. Put time and focus into your health. See your health care professional(s) regularly. If you have health concerns, seek treatment instead of letting the concerns linger and grow. Be mindful of what and how much you eat. If possible, and with your doctor’s guidance if necessary, make sure you have some sort of physical activity on a regular basis.
  3. Meditate. Even five minutes of sitting alone quietly with your eyes closed can be of benefit.
  4. Create or stay connected to a spiritual practice, if this feels right for you. “Spiritual” can mean something as simple as observing a tree; it doesn’t have to be religious or connected to a deity. Spiritual practice has different meanings for different people, so go with what works for you.
  5. Do things that cause you to feel happy or positive. This might even include doing something that you enjoyed as a child, like coloring or blowing bubbles. Anything that boosts your mood will help you energetically and in other ways.

And of course, treating yourself to an energy healing session will help. I’m open to new clients now; see my Chios Energy Healing page for more information.