It doesn’t matter how big or little, change is scary. So why is change so hard?
The simple answer is that we are creatures of habit, comfort, and safety. We gravitate to what we know and are familiar with, always searching for the feeling of certainty. Fear of the unknown can feel like a threat to our survival and causes us all sorts of emotions.
How do we allow change within ourselves, and in turn allow our partners to change so that we can both come together in the best positive light?
Some of the answers might surprise you. Let’s start with the person that is reading this.
Here’s the reality: you can’t change your partner and their habits. That can only be done by them when they are ready for it but not a moment sooner. You can only change yourself. Making changes for anyone else but yourself doesn’t work. It doesn’t stick. You need to make those changes because you know and feel deep down it needs to be done to be the best version of yourself you can be for yourself and everyone else around you.
Change is as evident and predictable as death and taxes. Resisting change causes stress, anger, and sadness, and truthfully it is exhausting. Learning to embrace, even consciously choose who we are opens the opportunity for personal growth and expansion.
Change creates more freedom, adventure, and joy in life. The key to this is being ready to step outside of your comfort zone.
People often fall into one of these 3 categories:
1. The desire to change all the things about you but unsure where to begin or what action to take first. You may also feel scared or even hopeless so you freeze, and no change occurs.
2. The second is wanting to see a change in our partner first before we ourselves start to make our own changes. We expect other people to make the first move, to make changes before we make any effort ourselves.
3. The third is making the change for a few days or weeks, but then reverting back to old patterns of habits and behaviours either because we have seen a bit of success and have slowly loosened the discipline we once had, or the complete opposite: We find it too difficult to maintain the habits in the long term and just give up.
I think we’ve all been there whether it’s our health or our finances. Most of the time, we do that because it’s easier to settle back into that comfortable place we have allowed ourselves to be in for so long, even if we are experiencing pain or unhappiness.
We crave safety, certainty, and comfort. And if we’re honest with ourselves, there’s a small part of us who thinks that we aren’t worthy of having or being exactly what we want to have or be.
So you’ve decided: you want to change. Congratulations….But how?
I want to share the 5 steps that I use both personally as well as with my clients so that you can begin to open yourself up to the beautiful changes that lie within you, that allow the best parts of you to shine through. Let’s move through each step by step so you can begin to make the changes which will naturally open up the door to allow your partner to make the changes as well.
5 Steps to cause Change:
1. Identify what change you want to make and why it’s so important and make a commitment to the change.
2. Pay attention and become aware of when the habit or behaviour you want to change shows up, and how often
3. Get present to the negative impact on you and your partner of this behaviour or habit you want to change. (this step is extremely important)
4. Decide how you want to be different and take action consistent with your commitment.
5. Share what you’re doing with people who can support you, encourage you, and help you be accountable. Your partner is the perfect place to start. It all starts with an Intention and a commitment, as this is your guiding light, your “North Star” if you will.
Until you know clearly what your goal is and why it’s important, your chances of success are pretty low.
Once you start to be mindful and present to all the things you do, think, act, and say, you will start to realize just how destructive or unworkable this area is in your life. When you can see the impact on your life and the people you love, the choice becomes available. Up until this point, we often feel like we can’t “control” the way we are and are unable to take ownership of this, but once choice becomes available, Freedom now is possible.
When you start to move towards those changes you need to be honest with yourself about the habit you have allowed to come forth and change how you react. This can be everything from interrupting your partner when they are speaking, blaming them for your actions, or how your inner critic talks to you that makes you feel like you are never enough.
We often make excuses for our actions and blame others for why we say and do the things we do. Be willing to say that you are no longer going to allow yourself to make excuses and that it is high time you make yourself accountable for your habits. This means being responsible and owning your own crap without blame or excuses. This is honestly the hardest thing to do. However, once you are able to look within yourself with compassion and without judgment, you are making progress.
You are now ready to release the old you to allow space for change. In regards to your relationship, one thing you can do is focus on yourself and only write down things you know deep down are habits that further inhibit your ability to connect with your partner and other people.
There is a saying by author Og Mandino “It takes 30 days to create a habit, and one day to break it”. Give yourself time to make your changes but keep yourself accountable. You will slip. Continue to be cognisant so the next time you get even better. Do not at any time put it on your partner to make the same changes. They will follow in kind when they see the changes you are making in you for both you and them.
People don’t like to be “fixed” by others, or forced to change when they think they are fine just the way they are. When we take on improving ourselves in a particular way, we sometimes expect our partners to want the same for themselves.
I recall a time that I’ve done this with my husband. When I became interested in personal growth, transformational work, and human potential, I worked really hard to change all the things about myself that I didn’t like and work towards becoming a woman of integrity, power, and compassion. I tried to encourage my husband to join me in these events, but he wasn’t really interested in it and it disappointed me that he was a “no thanks” when it came to doing the inner work through the seminars and courses I was taking. I took offense that he didn’t want to “grow with me” and was afraid that we would grow distant since we had very different approaches to life. Me, a go-getter, who wanted to break down all my walls and step into my ultimate awesomeness, and my husband, a simple guy who just wanted to stay home and relax all day. I then realized that I was trying to change him when there was nothing wrong with him!
I also saw that I was judging him and making up a story that he was “small-minded, not interested in being the best version of himself, not as smart or awakened as me” and I saw myself pulling away because of thoughts that were not even true! When I caught myself distancing myself, I stopped.
I was able to snap back into reality and remembered, “My husband loves me more than anything and he’s perfect just the way he is. He’s loving, sweet, kind, generous, loyal; everything I want in a partner.” How many times do we try to change our partner into something they are not just because it’s what we want for them, but not what they want for themselves?
The more we force it, the more they push back. Slowly, they start to distance themselves from us as they start to have the experience that we don’t accept them just as they are and somehow they are broken. Consider we are all imperfectly perfect. If we can learn to love ourselves and each other just the way they are, that’s where the magic begins. Yes, we can all want to change but it starts with loving ourselves just the way we are… and just the way THEY are.
When our partner feels that we truly accept them just the way they are, changing is a gift, not a chore or burden.
Celebrate their changes both big and small. This will create a change in your head and your heart about resisting the change that comes from them. Tell them that you noticed the change and how proud of them you are for making the change. Instill in them that you are walking the walk with them and that you celebrate them even in the little successes.
Change is hard for anyone. We’re all doing the best we can with what we were given, with all our insecurities, fears, doubts, and experiences.. so let’s be kind to each other, show compassion, acceptance, and unconditional love… not only to our partner but more importantly to ourselves.
Till next time all my loves, J.