I have had the opportunity to explore the need for change with several clients who all had different sticking points. In the end, it boiled down to getting stuck because they thought that change was only possible if another person or external circumstances changed for them.
The question often was “How do I change /my job/my financial situation/you fill in the blank”?
While each person was keen for personal change and growth, and very willing to take personal responsibility, they seemed to get stuck on an external issue. Often the belief was something like “I can only move on/feel better/solve my problem if Suzy apologises/Joe feels remorse/my boss feels guilty/the economy improves”.
This seems to indicate a kind of conditional thinking that requires everything else to work “as it should” before personal change is possible.
I agree, it would be nice if Joe regrets treating me badly, but is it an essential component of me getting to grips with my life? Maybe Joe is incapable of feeling remorse or incapable of seeing things from any angle other than his own. Maybe Joe believes his behaviour was entirely justified! Is that sufficient reason for me to get hung up on his actions? I think not.
On a larger scale, it would be nice if government structures and organisations did everything perfectly, but, as we know, that doesn’t always happen. Should that be enough reason for me to not live a full and satisfying life? Should it prevent me from always trying my best?
If one takes this stance you run the risk of waiting forever for things to become perfect before getting on with your own life path and goals.
In more than one instance, once we had agreed to accept the situation as it is, we could unhook and get on with the real work of self-care and personal growth.
This became most evident in a case where the client wanted to overcome hurt and anger after a bitter divorce and felt convinced that all would be better if only her ex-husband could come to regret his actions and reform his behaviour.
Once she had become convinced that he is unlikely to change, and that it is not her job in life to bring him to new insights, she could make far-reaching financial and lifestyle changes that had been on ice for years.
It seems the conviction that creative action is only possible once everyone does as they “should”, or situations are as they “should be”, steals an individual’s ability to come up with their own creative solutions. It is an expectation that steals one’s power.
This relates in some way to the idea of forgiveness. Often, we see forgiveness in a very romantic light – two parties get together and everything will be as it should be or as it used to be.
Reality, however, suggests that forgiveness is about letting go of past and present injustices for our own sake. Accepting that events were as they were and that people are as they are; and refusing to carry the weight of holding on to grudges or expectations of change.
Forgiveness does not mean approval or justification. It does mean that we stop feeling anger and blame towards an event or person. We are effectively letting go of the power outside agencies have over us by allowing them to be as they are.
Jack Kornfield puts this beautifully: “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past.”
If you feel stuck in some area of your life schedule a consultation with me and let’s get you moving into the next phase of your life.