A common theme most of my patients struggle is: how do I know if/when/how to be ready to change?
The concept of change becomes a point to consider when what we are doing with our time and energy is not giving us the results we want in our lives. The process of change is rather simple: commitment and action. We must commit to the results we want and take the action steps needed to make that change happen. This process of commitment and action is simple and it's also not easy.
There is no real easy answer to how do you know when you are ready to change. In the case of many of my patients, trying to change or add behaviors that promote mental health can become an internal battle. They know the outcome has benefits, but the process seems daunting. I really have to keep a consistent sleep regime/take medication/stop avoiding things/give up my OCD.... Say whatttt?!?! Even if it is apparent that you will benefit from the change, it can still be hard to wrap your head around committing to the process of change. Plenty of people hate their OCD, but they fear giving it up. They know their lives would be better if they just did the treatment, but that just sounds so...scary.
Some say you have to lose enough to be ready to change. The reason it is true for many is they are not "ready" or motivated enough to do the scary thing until the consequences become real. Logic tells us that we dont have to to suffer or hit rock bottom, but yet, fear blocks our logic. And because fear blocks logic, many people lose a lot before they are ready and willing to do the work of change.
image via armchairexpertpod.com
If you haven't already discovered Dax Shepard's new podcast, I am a fan. He interviews his wife, Kristen Bell in one of the first episodes and she kept making a point that answered the question addressed above. Bell kept coming back to this idea that when we have choices in life, we have two options: happiness or suffering. It is that simple. We can make our choices in life from the lens of will this bring me happiness or suffering? The more I listened to her talk about this, the more clear it became that it is just that simple. Our choices that bring us happiness may not be easy, but they give us the outcomes that we want vs. the outcomes that we don't want (suffering.)
So how do we know when we are ready to make scary changes in our life? The simple answer is you will likely never be ready, and it will never be easy, and you do it anyway. Make choices that lead you towards the life that you want. Simple, not easy.
But then - the voice of anxiety speaks up: "What about this and what about that and have you considered this or that?" We should expect that to happen. And when it happens, if we go towards the what if and anxiety we likely bring in more of what we don't want into our lives - more anxiety. The content of our what if's may change, but how we respond to them doesn't have to. Choose to go towards the life you want. You won't be ready, and yet, you can find a way to do it anyway.