People sometimes want to give up or do give up on their quest for emotional change. Let’s face it. It’s hard. It is easy to give people credit for logistical or physical changes. “Oh wow, you quit smoking. That must have been so hard!” “You have stuck with a workout routine for so long now, how did you do it?” It seems easy to understand that these physical changes are difficult and take a lot of effort and work. For some reason, we are not as understanding when it comes to emotional change. You hear more of, “Just leave him, what are you doing?” “Stop worrying so much about it.” There seems to be a lot less empathy on the difficulty involved in changing emotionally or in relationships.
Let me assure you, emotional change is not easy. It is not easy because the way we think, feel, and act have all been engrained and trained in us since we were born. We learn how the world works emotionally, what roles we should play, and how other’s see us from the second we come into the world. Those are not easy patterns to break. If you are struggling to change emotionally, it is time to give yourself some grace and learn a better way to move forward.
Emotional change takes several things. First, it takes insight. It is much easier to fix something if you know why it is not working. If you are trying to change enabling behavior, discovering that these patterns developed when you were younger from an enabling relationship you had with your father can give you a lot of empowerment to change. Enabling is learned behavior. It helps you feel assured that nothing is “wrong” with you, that you are just repeating patterns and lessons you have been taught. Insight gives you a lot more power in your change process.
It takes a lot of intentionality. You have to be overly aware and conscious of your feelings, emotions, and actions for a long time to create long lasting change. This is where many people get hung up. They get so tired of overanalyzing and having to think all the time that they eventually give up and go back to old behavior. It just seems like too much. Trust me, after a while the new behavior will start to become more instinctual and will not require as much intentional thought. You just have to put in the work. It is similar to muscle memory, but for your brain. You will not have to be this intentional forever.
Lastly, enjoy the fruit of your labor. Celebrate victories, even if they are small. Allow yourself to feel positive about growth and change even if those around you do not see it the same way. Emotional change is not easy, allow yourself to admire your work.