Change can be hard.
If you are the kind of person who can generally set your mind to something and make changes with ease, then you may get especially frustrated when one particular problem or area of life continues to challenge you.
Sometimes the changes that matter to us most are the hardest to make.
If you find that no matter what, you just can’t make the change you desire, then ask yourself this:
“What do I stand to lose by making this change?”
It seems counterintuitive—but asking yourself what you stand to LOSE if you make a healthy change can help you understand why you might be unconsciously self-sabotaging.
Often my clients are at first confused when I post this question to them. I’ll ask, “What do you stand to lose if you make _______ change?”
They’ll say, “I’m not sure what you mean. I don’t think there would be anything to lose.”
On the surface it seems like there aren’t any down sides.
Then, I explain more saying, “Okay, what would you have to give up if you you were to make this change?”
Once we drill down a bit, we get to the good stuff. This may take several rounds of questions, but eventually we get there.
Like, “Well, I guess if I weren’t sick all the time, I’d have to give up being taken care of (and getting extra attention from) my spouse.”
Bingo! There are some benefits to things staying the same.
(In this case, there are benefits of being sick. Getting well would have unintended consequences, such as loss of special care and maybe would require the ill spouse to go back to work full-time).
Sometimes we get extra love and care from others when things stay the way they are.
Think about the child who might pretend to be sick, just to get taken care of a bit more than usual (think popsicles, chicken noodle soup, and movie marathons on a school day).
While this is more of a temporary example, it still showcases the benefits of being sick that we can all relate to.
Often times people stall in making positive health changes because there are some benefits to being sick.
Beside extra TLC, there are many other potential things people would have to give up if a change were to take place.
Sometimes, there is the realization from some people that their current life situation allows them to feel justified in their feelings (such as anger, resentment, or depression).
If they were to change, they’d have to give that up. Then, who would they be without that thing they’ve held onto for so long?
Commonly, making healthy changes would mean taking responsibility for your life rather than feeling justified in blaming it on circumstance.
Pain, struggle and dissatisfaction can be addicting.
Notice if you may be unintentionally holding on to any of these things and letting them keep you from what you really want.
Staying the same can offer protection.
For example, sometimes it can feel safer to be alone than in relationships with others.
Notice how staying the same might keep you safe from attracting a partner (which you say you want, but actually it terrifies you).
Or perhaps you are afraid to change your diet and lifestyle because you believe the extra weight will keep you safe from unwanted sexual advances.
If you’ve been objectified, assaulted, or abused in the past, it makes sense that you’d be afraid. (If this is the case, it may be good to see someone who works with trauma and can help you heal).
Whatever the reasons, it may be hard to realize the truth about a pattern you’ve been letting run your life for years.
However, it ultimately lays the groundwork for REAL, lasting change.
Even if you’ve spent a portion of your life letting fear hold you back from being healthy, happy or fulfilled, it’s never too late to reclaim what you really want.
By asking yourself this simple question, you can see the unintended consequences of making a change.
If you feel stuck in a rut, or need help uncovering your hidden barriers to change, I can help. Part of my job is to help you see your blind spots and develop a plan for moving forward.
Interested in learning more? Please don’t hesitate to reach out. There is nothing to lose.