A Note to Whom is Making a Life Change:
You are doing great. Keep at it.
Remember that you are making a lifestyle change–perhaps something that has been rooted in your identity for decades–and that this will take time and it will take effort, but it will be worth it in the end. And that these changes have to come from an intrinsic source–we will never be able to change our eating habits or our shopping habits or our addictions if the only reason is because someone else wants us to (and if we do, this might cause other equally as unhealthy habits to form)–we have to truly want these changes for ourselves.
The initial start up will be the most difficult. Your body will reject a new routine. Your mind will attempt to fall into negative self talk. You will generate all kinds of creative, and sometimes seemingly rational excuses, and it is in these first initial moments that you will be most tempted to quit, to go back to your old ways, to stop the changing altogether. But, expect that this will happen—know it is a natural occurrence, and that it, too, will eventually pass.
Prepare setbacks. Nothing will ever go as smoothly as we may hope, because that is just life. You will be doing great–checking off the boxes, falling into a routine, feeling equipped to handle the new changes, seeing positive benefits, and something will happen someday that will tempt you back into your old habits. You will get a call from an former friend, asking you to slip back into that lifestyle; you will see an item on sale that seems like a once in a lifetime offer; you will be tired, hungry, stressed, over worked, over whelmed, and tempted to reverse all of your hard work–because it would be so much easier to go back to where you once were.
But, remind yourself of how far you have come. You can’t go back now. Sure, that lifestyle you once had is easy, but it is easy because it is familiar–it is not scary, it is comfortable, it is predictable, and soon, this new lifestyle you have adapted will become familiar as well, and IT will become your default, your go-to, your comfort style–so don’t give up now. You are almost there. Putting in the work and making the choice to continue with this new lifestyle is where the benefits rest. You will be so proud of yourself, you will feel better, you will have a brighter outlook on life–and THAT is worth way more than falling back into predictability and comfort.
Use positive talk when speaking to yourself. You are doing something brave and courageous by taking steps to change your life–be proud of yourself for that. The words, “I can’t believe I did that”, “I’m so mad at myself for”, “I should not have”, “I know I could have done better” keep us stuck in the past–stuck in our old ways, and prevent us from progressing forward and cultivating that new life we are working so hard for. Slip ups will happen, and when they do, it is OK to recognize your disappointment, and then keep your focus towards the future–what are you going to do NEXT time so that this does not happen again? Are you going to change your driving route, so you are not tempted to visit that establishment again? Are you going to delete that number so that it is not easy for you to pull up? Are you going to organize an event so that you are responsible for showing up on that date? We cannot control the past any longer, but we can control how we will react to our future.
When you feel frustrated–because you feel you have put all of this work into changing, and yet, the world hasn’t seem to adapted with you, practice forgiveness–forgiveness of self, but also forgiveness of others. Inevitably, you will face frustration, because while you are doing all of this internal stirring and reflecting and changing and growing that you are aware of, the rest of world does not (and, of course, why should they? They, too, are preoccupied and are witnessing their own internal stirrings and reflections and changing and growing that of course they won’t notice, without being told, that you are making these changes). Because people see us as static individuals–they see us as who they know us to be, what behaviors we’ve always been known to have, and they expect us to always be this way. They expect us to flake out on responsibilities–because that is what we’ve always done–so when we don’t flake out, because we are trying to make that change, and they don’t compliment our efforts (because they aren’t aware that is something we are working on), don’t be discouraged–you are still doing the right thing. They expect us to always respond in an argumentative way, so when we utilize our tools and we try to respond in a non-argumentative way, and when the situation doesn’t feel like its changed, that does not mean your tools aren’t working.
But do not give up. Change happens in small ways. We are not only retraining ourselves but we are also retraining others on how to interact with us. Unless we directly tell them, people will not notice how we are working to improve ourselves. People will not notice that you sending that text message was meant as a way for you to practice complimenting others. They will not notice that you declining the extra cupcake at the party was a big feat towards changing your eating habits. They will not notice that offering to drive everyone home was a strategy to keep yourself responsible, or that by posting that picture on social media was your way of removing vanity and materialism from your life–but keep going at it, because YOU know that all of these small steps are progress.
You are doing great! Keep at it!