Stories on the edge of familiarity

Monthly Archives: October 2012

Does Change Need to Be So Stressful?

I almost didn’t write a post tonight, because I’m upset. And I would really love to blame everyone else but myself, but the truth is that I am responsible for my own life.

Before you get too worried, I’ll be okay. I’m just not feeling great.

I’ve been trying to make changes in my life, most notably how I manage my time, and I’ve discovered that there are two ways of going about that:

1) The way that feels like some sort of twisted emotional roller coaster

and

2) The way I actually want things to go

 

Roller coaster

The emotional roller coaster method should sound pretty familiar:

You decide you’re going to make a change, what it’s going to look like, and how it’s going to work. Then you start doing it, and you feel great. Every time you do the new thing(s), your happiness level goes up and you feel optimistic about changing your life and such. Never again shall you live the way you lived before. Think like it’s a New Year’s Resolution.

Then you slip up, just a tiny bit. Now you’re gritting your teeth, because you don’t want to backslide, but this slip-up has you worried. If you’ve gone through this process before, you know that even the tiniest mistake can lead to a domino effect whereby all your progress is lost as if it had never happened, and you end up the same or worse than how you were before.

And then you make another mistake, and another, and soon all you can think about is all those mistakes. No matter how much progress you made, you can see that old way of being rising up like a creature from the Black Lagoon or a zombie coming up out of its grave. Pretty soon, the mistakes just keep adding up and, no matter how good you feel when you do something right, you crash every time you do something wrong.

Eventually, you crash so much that you’re convinced that this change isn’t working, and you should just stop trying. Things return to normal, and your emotional health is way more stable.

 

Why I’m upset

Guess which phase of the coaster I’m at? Yeah, one too many mistakes. And it’s led me to several conclusions:

1) I never want to try the roller coaster method again

2) That method is based on doing all the right things and that kind of mindset destroys me
3) I’ve been looking at life change as all about doing the right things

I’ve also been learning about codependency lately, which is when people look to something external to fill a need that can only be met internally.

Which is something I do a lot (everyone does, actually).

When bad stuff happens in the life of someone who’s codependent, they will totally be up for blaming everything under the sun about their problems, but they won’t look at how they got themselves into the mess they’re in.

Codependency comes from a focus on doing all the right things. It just looks at the surface and tries to manipulate the surface into what it wants, and then we end up feeling unsatisfied because we can paint a leopard with stripes all we want, but that’s not going to change it into a tiger.

Whatever that other way of changing is

Here’s the thing. I’ve experienced real life change that didn’t come with an emotional roller coaster. There was one incident of an emotional flu, but that only lasted a day and mostly happened because I wasn’t prepared for it.

It felt natural, smooth, peaceful, effortless, and the whole process made me feel better about myself. Not only that, but that change has lasted. It’s permanent.

And it didn’t involve a even a single thought about doing the right things and not a single worry about doing the wrong things.

I’m giving myself a week to figure out how that can happen again, in the areas I want to change now, and I will get back to you about that. Because I’m tired of the roller coaster. I’m tired of the rat race.

And I think you are, too.

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