It takes courage to change life

"The unexamined life is not worth living,” Socrates said. That's the reason many people seek out a counselor, a wise mentor or a spiritual adviser. Tired of living in despair, not knowing what to do, but sure"… that I don't want to live like this anymore.”

The challenge is to learn what to do differently, and as anyone knows who has tried it, the older you are, the more difficult it is to change habitual patterns of behavior, even when they may be destructive.

The reasons for how we live and what we do are often difficult to understand. It may be patterns we observed and experienced in the families in which we were raised. It may be we are trying to get attention the only way we know how, or it may simply be a reaction to old resentments that have gone unattended.

Often, when someone acts in a way that is hurtful, someone will ask, "Why did you do that?” It is not uncommon for them to respond honestly, "I don't know.”

Because most of our behavior is habitual and without thought, a good place to start is to examine honestly the consequences of our destructive patterns, because those destructive patterns, if not changed, will damage and
sometimes end our most important relationships.

Anyone who begins to be aware of the negative consequences of his or her behavior often notices — usually with surprise — that they keep making the same mistakes over and over. Getting stuck on asking, "Why do I do that?” is not the best question, because we can come up with an endless number of excuses.

The question to ask is, "Why not change?” except the "why not” question gives us trouble, too. It involves risk. What if it doesn't make a difference? What if I fail? When we are steeped in habit and fearful of change, taking risks is not easy, and few get it right immediately.

No one would expect to become good at skiing without falling down, and falling down can hurt. Wise are those who understand that and are not surprised when it happens but instead have a plan to take care of themselves when it happens and are determined to get up and try again.

Changing behavior takes great courage. Courage is not the opposite of fear. I don't think you can be courageous if you're not afraid. Courage is feeling the fear and not letting the feelings of fear keep you from stepping out in a different direction.

It seems to be easier for some to make changes than others, but the choice is ours. Risk and change or live a life in despair.

Close Window