Working with people as intimately as I do, I often hear something like “my husband wants me to change…” or “my doctor thinks this is a problem.” Here’s what I have come to believe as truth: it’s only a problem if it’s a problem for you.
A desire to change and grow only works if it is fed from within. I used to work at a chemical dependency center and found the people who were internally motivated (truly wanted change) were much more successful at engaging in therapy and worked to change harmful behaviors.
External motivation (someone or something outside of yourself pushing you to change, such as a probation officer or a spouse) has a place and can be a big motivator, but to have lasting change, the desire has to come from within.
I once worked with a man who was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. This man would experience manic episodes that would last a year. He was an artist and found that during times of mania, he created amazing work. He came to me because his family thought it was “weird.” I asked him if it was a problem for him and he replied “No! It’s the opposite actually.” He truly liked his manic episodes and he was not actually causing anyone harm, he simply went into creation mode. He was adamant about not wanting medication, which I supported. Even the episodes of depression were worth it to him. He had no desire to change. (I should clarify that this is an individual experience and not everyone will feel this way).
This man’s perception changed mine. As a therapist, I was taught that diagnosing and treating mental health disorders was the norm. What this man taught me is that he is a person. He is not a disorder that needs treatment. There are a lot of wonderful therapists out there who truly honor the person (I know many personally), but I’ve also known therapists who push people to change without their consent.
Again, this experience is unique, but I have carried the lessons from my time with him to all of the people I serve. We have become detached from our true Selves and believe that other people know us and should tell us what to do. What we need is to connect with our Selves.
Freedom comes from honoring our Selves and releasing dependency on someone else. If you want to create change, the motivation has to come from within. If it’s not a problem for you, it’s not a problem. If it eventually does become a problem (because it affects your relationship with yourself, others, or your world in a negative way) then you will move toward change.
If you are not ready for change for whatever reason (even denial), there’s a reason you’re there. You’re protecting yourself from something, usually pain or shame. Be gentle to yourself. You are precious. You are worthy. You can trust yourself. No one knows you better than you. You just have to awaken to your inner light.
Below are a few steps to getting reacquainted with your Self.
- Awaken to your body by focusing on your breath. Breathe on purpose, pay attention to it. Taking time out to focus on something that you are doing constantly will help connect you with your body and the present moment.
- Connect with your thoughts. Invite awareness to your mind by getting in the habit of consciously thinking about your thoughts. Say “I’m having the thought that…” this phrase will create separation and allow you to experience your thoughts as just that-a thought. It’s fleeting. It won’t last.
- Connect with your emotions. Don’t push them away, but welcome them. Emotions, just like thoughts, are temporary. Each moment changes your emotions. Allow yourself to feel without escape. Trust in the lesson of each emotion.
- Consciously reflect and question your motivation, thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. They are all a part of you, but they do not define you. They are temporary experiences. Question them.
I am writing this blog with light and love. Take what works for you and leave the rest. May you awaken to your Self, connect with your inner light, and integrate consciousness. May you feel peace. May you trust your Self. Blessings.