Often I hear people describe themselves in ways that suggest change is not possible. They say, “This is just how I am, and this is how I’ve always been.” And in some cases, the message is even stronger: “Why should I change to please him/her (most often referring to a displeased partner, or sometimes family, friends or even an employer), why cant’ they accept me as I am?” This statement suggests that not only is change not possible, but it suggests that if it is possible, then I don’t want to change and shouldn’t have to!
My response to these questions is always the same: “Do you get what you want and need by being the way you are? “ If the answer is “yes” then it makes sense that you would not see the need to change. What is there to change? I’m assuming though, if you are asking the question in the first place, there is something that is not working. The first question then, is, what is not working? Perhaps what isn’t working is that you don’t like your partner nagging you. Maybe what isn’t working is that you feel inadequate because of the requests your partner makes and you feel like you can’t deliver. Or maybe you know on some level that something isn’t working, but you don’t know what it is, and you sure don’t want it to be because of something about you!
Probably the most common complaint I hear about someone who has been encouraged to pay attention to their behaviors is, “they are trying to change who I am.” The interesting thing about this is that within this statement is the belief that how we are is the way we are suppose to be, and that to change will cause us to be someone we are not. Luckily we grow and change. Growing and changing allows us to become a better, more effective form of who we are. What do you fear most about changing?
Sometimes it is true, the “unhappy” partner, friend, employer, or family member is the one who needs to consider making changes. This change, however, might include leaving you, firing you, setting different boundaries with you, or other changes that may be uncomfortable for you if you remain more attached to being the way that you are than being a way that you can be in order to improve your connection with your partner (or whomever). So the next question becomes, what do I have the power to influence or change about my situation? The easiest, but least effective place to linger is the place in which we point fingers toward others, assigning responsibility to everyone but ourselves for the discomfort in our lives.
Back to my question of whether or not staying the same provides you with what you want and need, the answer is more often “no.” Our attachment to staying the way we are simply because it is how we have always been is, in the end, an ineffective way to stand your ground only to find that the ground on which you stand leaves you very much alone, disconnected, unsatisfied and unhappy. And we don’t want that do we!
So, the good news is that we do indeed have the ability to change. Today I’m going to talk about how we can change ourselves in relationship to our feelings. Feelings impact every aspect of our lives and the way we deal with (or perhaps don’t deal with) our emotions. We have the capacity to strengthen ourselves emotionally, just as we can strengthen ourselves physically and intellectually.