Another year ends and, at least for many of us, a new year begins. We have been before, best wishes, good intentions… “this will be the year”, we say… “this time I’ll make it happen”, we tell ourselves. However, if experience teaches us anything is that not many things will change. Moreover, do we change at all?
What does it take to change? Why do we want to change anyway? And perhaps even more puzzling “who is the one who wants to change me?
The first question has an easy answer (or so it seems). What does it take to change? Change happens all of the sudden and it is sustained gradually. If I decide today to start exercising and today I go to the gym. That is it! Change has happened. However if I only make it to the gym that day, there will be yet another change. A change back to how things were before the first change. That is the things with change, it keeps happening all the time. However, sustaining a change takes consistency, and there is where most of us “fail”. It is well known that habits (and virtues) take time to form. It is through repetition and something becomes habitual. If we repeat so-called life-affirming behaviors, we develop virtues, if we repeat life-denying ones, we get vices (of course, how to tell one from the other is a complex matter of another time).
Why do we want to change? Seems obvious, doesn’t it? Because something is “wrong” and we need to correct it. We need to shape up. Nothing wrong with it, but just like with virtues and vices, something straightforward can get quite complicated. It is clearly a good thing to hope to develop better habits and eradicate from life harming behaviors. Notice that I am talking about behaviors. The problem begins when instead of trying to change what we do, we shift the project to change who we are. As harmless as that may seem, if you dig a little dipper, underneath such a lofty goal, you’ll find the pernicious assumption that there is something wrong with us. That is one of the most harmful ideas to enter a human mind. The idea that we are defective, and therefore need some tweaking to be Ok. From there we often move to the realm of “if only”: If only I were thinner, smarter, richer, more handsome, successful… the list goes on and on. Believe me, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU. You may be DOING some stuff worth revising, but at the very bottom, deep down, you are perfect just the way you are. Don’t try to change who you are. There are very good reasons why you are the way you are. If anything, spend time trying to understand yourself and when you do, if anything needs to change, it will change by itself, without “you” having to do anything.
Noticed the quotation marks in “you” above? Wondering what is that about?
That bring us to our third question. We say “I want to change me” But who is the “I” that wants to change “me”? Aren’t they the same? Who made I the judge of me? Does I really know better than me? Who says that I is right and me is wrong? This is perhaps the most important question of the three. Because, if I’s agenda or goals are misguided, the whole program of change gets derailed. Can you see it? Seems like a good idea to find out who is this I and where does s/he gets his/her ideas to change me. Who knows, we may find out that me shoud be the one changing I….
So good luck! Let’s change what needs to be changed, but let us make the change come from a place of clear understanding of what, why and who are involved in change.
How do you see it?
Happy 2017, let’s make it the best year so far.