Since change only comes about as a result of fear, force, or pain; we’ll do what we can to deny we need to change as long as possible
— or at least until we’ve been psychically knocked upside the head long enough and can no longer disagree that things aren’t going as planned.
Should you wish to question that premise that change only comes about due to an excessive amount of yicky-ness, can we first agree that no one, not one person, wakes up, conducts a self-inventory, and exclaims, “Wow! Things are perfect! Let me see how I can muck them up”?
The unfortunate counter-reality is we decide to modify our lives only when two conditions are met:
- Life is not performing anywhere optimal level — and
- We can no longer fool ourselves into believing, should we follow the present course, it will change anytime soon
Only once we are defeated, will we begin the process.
It’s sad, but it’s true.
In my case, as with many others, the symptoms were aplenty. My marriage was failing; we were barely paying our bills; my relationship with my two young children was spotty; my chest and back were in a constant spasm – and I tipped the scales at 250 pound with a 44-inch belly.
Oh sure, I could belt out the “If Only Blues” with self-righteousness.
[Insert guitar lick in 4/4 beat]:
“I complained to my wife… [da-da-da-dunt] I yelled at my kids… [da-da-da-dunt] If only they’d change… [da-da-da-dunt] It would end all my strife. [da-da-da-dunt] But since they won’t budge… I’m eating this fudge.”
One night, alone and desperate, I examined the difficulties that were smothering me, looking for a common denominator.
The answer, horrifyingly, was, “Me.” Continuing the metaphor, the only note in the score over which I had control was my own actions.
So I began therapy.
It’s odd; you’d think if you were paying $100 an hour to someone to “fix you,” you’d take his advice. You’d think that, wouldn’t you?
Nope, not I. If Jerry, my therapist, wanted to earn his keep, he’d have to work for it. This didn’t seem to bother him at all; said he,
“This is your hour. If you don’t want to do the work, it’s fine with me. You pay for it either way.”
The catalyst manifested itself when he cut to the chase;
“We’ve been going around about this for months. So, let’s nail it down. Tell me; when are you actually get to work and really lose the weight you keep saying you’re going to do?”
Trapped, flatfooted, I responded with the brilliantly eloquent, “Uh, I don’t know.”
Jerry had a habit of scratching his forehead when he was going to twist the knife. I knew it was coming and braced myself.
“So,” he said, “Why don’t you put me in touch with the guy who runs your life. We’ll figure it out and get back to you.”
I referred to my therapy sessions as emotional muggings.
Not every therapist has Jerry’s style, and not everyone will respond well to it if they did. For me, it was what I needed; I needed an unflinching mirror held up to my life.
Twenty years hence, there’s still more I have to do; and I (usually) accept that. Being mentally healthy means you know you’ll never “get there.” However, when I get resistant (as I’m prone to do), I am also well aware it takes a lot of work to live a healthy life. So I remind myself,
“This is your life. If you don’t want to do the work, that’s fine. You’re going to pay for it either way.”
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a nationally known weight loss expert for baby boomers and the CRP (Chief Recovering Perfectionist) of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com. Get his free ebook of motivational quotations and one year of his highly-popular Monday Motivational Memos at no charge by following this link. He is also available for coaching and speaking.