Change is something that presses us out of our comfort zones. Change can be unfair, and that’s why most people don’t like it. Change can be for the better or for the worst-depending on how we perceive it. Change can also be uncomfortable, since changing from one state to the next seems to upset our control over outcomes.
However, change has a ripping effect on those who won’t let go. Therefore, in order to manage change, we have to be flexible. We also have to identify the benefits that the change will award us. And if we find that by holding onto a current situation, we are losing more than we are gaining, then we have to change. To illustrate this point further, below is a personal story that introduced me to change as a teenager.
I was 11 years and still sucking on my thumb. A demarcation had started developing in the middle of my lower lip. My mother was concerned. Apparently, she had done everything in her books but in vain to help me stop sucking my thumb.
One night I was awakened by a very bitter taste of pepper after sucking on the thumb. Later I learned from my grandmother who also happened to live with us, that mom had waited for me to sleep and then smeared a pepper paste on my thumb.
The pepper was so intense that when I woke up, everyone in the house was awakened by my screams. “It was the change-fairy that did it,” said my mom. “The fairy wants you to change your unhealthy habit of sucking your thumb.” She continued.
When I discussed the issue with my grand-mom, she said, “How did the pepper feel in your mouth?” “Oh, it was awful.” I said.
“Well, if the pain related to sucking your thumb is getting more intense than the pleasure of sucking it, the pleasure is no longer worth the pain. Stop sucking your thumb. Besides, you don’t want to be the young lady with a split mouth because of over-sucking your thumb.” She explained.
I have referred to the preceding story often when I’m dealing with change and it has helped me soften my resistance to it.
Below are the 3 steps to help you deal with change.
Step 1: Establish what has to be changed.
Find out what the new condition/habit/situation that the change will bring. This will help you connect to what you really want, or at the very least, what’s best for you—whether you want it or not.
Step: 2: Think about the inconveniences, losses or pains related to not changing.
In my case, sucking my thumb was creating discomfort from the pepper. And I was vulnerable to the possibility of a deeper demarcation developing on my lip, plus the related consequences if I didn’t stop.
Step 3: Take the first step.
Don’t wait to be perfect. Focus on the losses related to not changing, and the benefits of changing. And if the benefits of the change promise a more beneficial experience, that should motivate you to think of the first step to start changing. For instance, for me to stop sucking on my thumb, I started tying a dirty cloth around the thumb. So, every time I didn’t pay attention and sucked on the finger, it was no longer enjoyable.
If you are having trouble changing, find ways to intensify your pain or loss related to not changing.
I’m also certain that sometimes taking steps to change may seem not only impossible but also scary to take. However, just like Martin Luther King Jr. once quoted, “The time is always right to do what is right.”
If you know that the required change is the right thing to do, don’t wait to take the first step.
Now, is the right time.
About the Author: Dr. Jacinta M. MPALYENKANA specializes in counseling for abuse and co-dependence on alcohol or drugs and is based in Los Angeles, California. After completing two PhD’s, one in Counseling and another in Philosophy, Jacinta chose to become a personal transformational coach, mentor, and public speaker. Her mission is to help make a positive difference in the world by counseling, coaching and empowering women.