Change is often a wise investment that pays off in decreased suffering.
Let’s say that you have correctly recognized that in order to be more healthy and balanced, you need to make some sort of lifestyle, thought, and/or behavioral change. Let’s also say that you are willing to ask for and receive some help for this. Furthermore, let’s assume that you seek some sort of help from a professional mentor, counselor, coach, or teacher and that this costs money that you don’t feel like you can afford.
What it costs. Is it worth it?
You are now confronted with decisions related to your priorities. Do you keep eating out, spending upwards of $500/month, even though you could spend $200 on groceries and just make your own meals? Freeing up enough money for two $150 sessions per month is probably worthwhile. If are able to do this, then you are probably ready to take ownership back for your life! One way to notice that you are moving towards readiness for change is that you begin to feel more discomfort when you try to rationalize or justify unhealthy habits; once you notice the discomfort for what it is, you see that it (the discomfort) is just trying to motivate you to change something so that the discomfort goes away.
Now, what if you really are not justifying anything, and you literally cannot afford the help. There are places that provide sliding scale help; places that provide free help; places that will help you to see where you can make financial changes to free up money for self-care. Now you are once again confronted with truly owning your life; you see, it is extremely uncommon that help is literally not available in some form or another.
Real obstacles to change
Folks that struggle with depression, or other energy depleting conditions, may actually not feel the motivation to change; they may have the experience of giving up hope, sometimes to the point of feeling suicidal, sometimes to the point of self-sabotaging in order to feel some sort of illusory control. When somebody has repeatedly seemed to make genuine efforts at behavioral/cognitive change, yet reverts back, other methods of intervention may come into possibility; perhaps a new counselor, perhaps trying meditation, exercise, changes in diet, etc. When nothing seems to be working, or if you are at your wit’s end, consider talking to your doctor about medication. Again, if these cost money and/or effort, there may be a defensiveness to trying them. Eckhart Tolle would say that the egoic pain-body is getting in the way. I tend to agree. You may have more colorful names for this internal gremlin!
How the ego is the victim
Sometimes though, people will actually engage the new options, but without being truly committed to the change(s), often as a way to show their plight . . . “I’ve tried counseling, it didn’t work, I tried meds, they didn’t work, I tried meditation, exercise, healthy diet, changing friends, etc. and none of it worked. “Now look at all of the time, energy and money I wasted, only to find myself back at square one. Nothing ever goes my way.” Try to remember that as difficult as it is to watch this way of thinking, the person going through it never gets away from it until they truly own their life (though they may get the illusion of getting away from it by self-medicating with drugs/alcohol, or other addictive behaviors).
It’s all relative
If you really deeply want to change, then you also have to KNOW that you NEED to change in a very direct and genuine way. And accept responsibility for when you behave in ways that are not in line with the changes you allegedly know that you need to make. Thing is, you don’t HAVE to change. Nobody’s going to stop you from doing what you do in most cases – but there will always be some sort of consequence for your action—that’s the behavioral version of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity: E=mc2. Do the things that are in line with what you want to achieve, and you improve the likelihood (the probability) that you will get what you are wanting. But that equation is not just for one fixed point in time . . . it stays accurate from moment to moment. . .for every moment there is. So, by the same token, when you do things that are not in line with what you are wanting or striving for, then you are less likely (i.e. you lower the probability) that you will get what you are looking for . . . said another way, you increase the probability of getting more of the stuff that you allegedly don’t want.
Self-sabotage and drama
So why do people continue to do the things that lower their chances of success? I guess it depends on who you ask, and who you’re talking about. But generally, it gives us something to continue to ‘work’ on, or gives us something to be distracted by, or something to complain about, or add to add to the story of our life . . . in other words, it creates more drama. . . and we seem to like drama. But when you look at excitement about something, there’s really nothing wrong with that, it’s just generally healthier and truly entertaining in the real sense of the word to create excitement in a more positive manner. . . I’m going to call it ‘adventure’ when you are being healthy about it—drama when you’re not; that is, one of them is for when you’re asleep at the wheel (in terms of your consciousness), and the other for when you are ‘awake.’
Learn more about Mindfulness-based Counseling in Austin.
Jonathan F. Anderson, LPC-s has worked in the helping profession since he started college in 1990. After completing his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas, Austin in 1994, he attended the highly-regarded University of Minnesota to earn his Master’s degree in 1997. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is recognized as a Board Approved Supervisor by the State of Texas Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors. Jonathan is a Gottman-trained Couples Counselor, and in 1998 received training by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation in Advanced Critical Incident Stress Management & Debriefing. To learn more about Jonathan’s practice, click here: Jonathan F. Anderson, LPC-s.