It seems so simple: if you want things to be different, you must do something different. And yet, many of us are stuck in our bad habits and addictions.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, spent the morning reading about addiction, how to help an addict, co-dependency, and shame. Specifically what I’ve been trying to figure out is when we become aware that things aren’t working for us, but we’ve been stuck in the same loop for so long, how do we change?
I am reading Brene’ Brown’s first book, “I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power.” In the first chapter, she talks about real power, and describes it as: “the power to create and live by our own definition” and later says that there are “three specific components to real power: consciousness, choice and change.” She says:
In order to effectively make changes and address the problems in our lives, we need to first be conscious or aware of the problem. Second, we need to be able to problem-solve and identify the choices we can make to address the problem. Once we are aware of the problem and our options for dealing with it, we need to be able to facilitate change–we need to be able to act on those choices.
In other words, this is going to take some time…
- Stop digging. If the problem is that you find yourself in a deep, dark hole, don’t expect any help or any escape if you continue to dig. Don’t ask for help digging, or for money for a new shovel. If what you are doing isn’t working and you want it to stop, first you must stop.
- Stop blaming. If you think your situation or circumstances are someone else’s fault, stop it. “When I blame someone else for something, I give up my power to them,” (Al-Anon saying). If you are busy “smashing yourself to bits” because of all the trouble you’ve caused, stop that too. It really doesn’t matter who did what, or who’s responsible. It only matters if you are planning to punish someone, and that isn’t going to bring the change you are looking for–let it go.
- Stop waiting. It is a waste of time to wait for someone else to fix things, to help or rescue you. You have to save yourself.
Easier said than done. Seriously, this is going to be really hard, and it’s going to take a really long time. The sooner we get started, the better. Leo Babauta of zenhabits.net has written a few posts recently that I’ve found helpful: “How I Changed My Life, In Four Lines” and “The Half Step That Will Change Your Life.”
- If you want things to change, why not now?