I’ve gotten two pieces of advice repeatedly over the last week, and they’ve both proven to be quite helpful, so I thought I’d share.
- “Things will get better now that the pretending is passed.” aka you don’t have to pretend everything is completely fine.
- Talk to your friends about your problems.
So I followed this advice. I stopped pretending, and I talked, and I talked, and I talked some more, and some more after that. And in between I did nice things for myself and gave myself a lot of alone time.
And eventually the clouds began to lift, and I began to feel better.
In the process, I learned something interesting about change.
There’s this feeling I’ve been having for quite some time, a fear that the change I’ve been working toward all this time isn’t real or long-term, that it won’t stick, that one day it will disappear without warning, that I’ll find myself back where I started. It’s very powerful, this fear, and not all that helpful.
Here is what I have realized: conscious change does not ultimately depend on external factors. Change does not rest on the shoulders of one or two key people in our lives, or on a job, or on geography. Change does not rest on our communities, or on a hobby, or on a lifestyle choice. All of these things can help facilitate change, yes, absolutely. But strip any of them away, and what are we left with?
The internal change. We can be thrown into situations that we might have hoped all this change would have prevented. But if there has been internal change, we will respond differently. We will have different skills and different strengths. We will see the situation differently, we might be aware of different options, and we will be able to make different choices if that is what we want to do.
Internal change is not something that just goes away. Can we experience a backslide? Sure. Some confusion? You bet. But I could no more find myself back where I started than I could snap my fingers and cause instantaneous deep change on a whim. Everything–all the hard work, all the insights, all the frustrations and setbacks, all the small victories–builds on itself to create the change.
And perhaps one of the last steps is to gain the confidence that such change can be both true and lasting. That it is not something that can be irrevocably lost or taken away. That failures and difficult situations are an opportunity to learn more rather than some kind of final grim judgment of self-worth.
That the change is not dependent on any one thing or any one person except myself.