Why Is Change So Difficult?
Self-compassion and patience during change
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | September 2018 (edited January 19, 2021)
We need self-compassion to engage in the difficult path to lasting change.
“How can I feel better?” we ask. We naturally want to feel good. Emotions of sadness, despair, and shame don’t feel good. When we experience unpleasantness, we want to escape. There’s no shortage of advice on how to accomplish this. We live in information overload. The internet is a blessing and hazard. Anyone can speak with authority; credentials optional. Sorting through the massive piles information, with both the credible and the ridiculous mashed together, is our challenge. While we work to discover more, maybe we should implement something simple. Be patient, be kind, and be forgiving. Life is complex, success alluding. We’ll get there but not immediately.
Sarah couldn't believe it. "The scale must be broken," she thought. After several days of watching her diet and adding exercise, she still hadn't lost weight. Frustrated and discouraged, she just wanted to quit.
Many skills notably improve our lives; but we must artfully identify proven remedies while refraining from the fluff. We must sort through advice, identifying foolishness—the tales told by idiots, “full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing,” and work on implementing proven remedies built on soundness.
"Many skills notably improve our lives; but we must artfully identify proven remedies while refraining from the fluff."
Effective action must be understood in context. Even eating a proper diet and beginning exercise doesn't guarantee immediate results. However, persistence in doing what is right eventually takes hold and our lives begin to express the magnificent desired changes.
Self-Compassion during the Change Process
While we're waiting for change. Here’s my advice, throwing my thoughts on to the obnoxious heap of well-being directives. When we constantly ask, "How can I feel better?" our thoughts gravitate to what is wrong. What’s wrong becomes the focus. Naturally, we must identify errors in behavior; but too much focus on what’s wrong, ignoring what’s right, bothers the soul. Life always feels wrong if that is our focus. Improvement requires some tension, noticing error and working towards change. However, too many thoughts about what’s wrong disrupts. In our efforts to improve, we digress. We feel bad when all we see are the blotches.
Self-compassion is necessary to weather the storms of slow and difficult changes.
Instead of harsh judgments for failings, we can accept some foibles. Humans feel pain, disappointment, guilt, sorrow and anger. The feelings are part of our human heritage. We work towards improvement, not because we are defective, but because we evolve. We encourage healthy growth with constructive behaviors. The “what is wrong with me” thoughts discredit the sanctity of life, dampening aliveness, and discouraging internal motivations to change. We depress our souls, curl in the corner and endure the ruthless shocks of life.
See Learned Helplessness for more on this topic
Stop the insanity; be kind to yourself (self-acceptance); be less judgmental. Practice patience. Engage in proven methods that promote growth. Find outlets for creative expression (healthy escapes). Practice compassion. Express forgiveness. Enjoy healthy relationships. As we address key areas that contribute to successful living, our feelings improve. By focusing on constructively doing, instead of what is wrong, our life naturally falls into place.
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