Thousands of texts, dozens of faces, various groups, several places – each week I share and often the topic is change in some way shape or form. I want to be sure that when I talk about change, people don’t hear me saying “snap out of it” (and I’m never saying “man up!”) Change can come and I want to help change come, but it doesn’t always come like a light bulb turning on!
There are some things that some people can just snap out of. Some people, some things. Not all people, not all things. And just because one person can do something, doesn’t mean that another unique individual can do the same thing or do it in the same way. We’re different on a molecular level and a million ways. And when one person’s success evolves into impatience or intolerance of another’s struggle, we’ve lost our way. “I did it, so you can too” can be a hopeful message, but it can also be a delivered in a way that’s counter productive if it sounds like “I did it, so why haven’t you?!”
When addiction, depression, and anxiety are involved, I’ve often observed that impatience. Even when a person has a chemical imbalance or genetic predisposition, some change and growth are possible, even without medications! (I said some change – not necessarily a cure.) But I find that some people are unable to see the possibility of growth and change because they’ve been judged, scolded, and treated impatiently. They know longer believe that change can come. Professionals in my field often see ‘learned helplessness‘ as an impediment to growth and recovery. But if people have learned helplessness, isn’t it safe to suppose that someone or something in the environment is teaching it?
Change is always possible – I insist upon believing that is true. Sudden change is possible. B. J. Fogg, psychologist and founder of the Stanford Behavior Design Lab, recognizes that epiphanies happen, but suggests that rather than waiting for an epiphany, there are some specific ways we can invite and create change. (I’ve raved before about his Tiny Habits approach to change. Check it out!)
Perhaps the impatient sounding folks who say things like “snap out of it” are expecting an epiphany. Maybe they had one themselves and I guess that’s great for them! But if their unique experience leads them to become narrow-minded, impatient, or feel superior, they can detract from the environment where change and growth happen.
So I’m going to keep talking and teaching and texting about change (in part because I need the reminders) and I hope you always hear my words as encouragement or invitations to stretch and strive. We can all help each other move along whatever journey we are on by being patiently persistent with ourselves and each other. Patience, persistence, and acceptance of our uniqueness makes for a fertile soil for growing, changing seedlings. When we treat ourselves and others with kindness and patience, anything is possible – even change!