“Things do not change; we change.”
-Henry David Thoreau
Take a look at Merriam-Webster’s definition of change:
Change: verb \’chānj\
a : to make different in some particular : alter
b : to make radically different : transform
c : to give a different position, course, or direction to
Do these sound familiar? I really like these definitions, and I think they apply to recovery; to alter one’s self, to make a radical transformation and to change your course with a new direction. For some reason, change can be a hard concept to accept. American society typically expects things or other people to change based on their own needs. If you put some thought into that, you’ll start to realize that it does not make much sense at all. Why should we expect others to change based on our needs and wants? Taking ownership for the way you feel can be hard because sometimes you may not want to feel that way or you may not understand why you do, but there you are. Most of the time, it is much easier to blame something or someone else for the way we feel rather than try to understand why we’re feeling that way.
In reality, nobody can control the way we feel except ourselves. It’s just a matter of changing the way we interpret and internalize other’s words and actions. Personally, one of the feelings that I hold others responsible for the most is guilt. I have a tendency to experience intense feelings of guilt when something is going wrong for someone else; usually I want to help fix it, but I am helpless. I had a dinner date with my father not too long ago, and we were having a conversation about this exact thing. I felt responsible for someone else’s feelings and that responsibility had evoked overwhelming feelings of guilt in me. I was helpless in making this person feel any better, in fact all I was doing was making it worse for the both of us and it was weighing heavy on me. My father reiterated what I already knew; I cannot control how someone else feels just as they cannot control the way I feel. He also said that was one of the best lessons he had gained from AA; let go, relinquish the need for control, surrender.
The point here is that anyone in recovery or involved in the mental health field, has to believe in change. Otherwise, what is the point? However, in order to change we must be intrinsically motivated, by ourselves and ourselves alone. No one can change us, except us. You have to want it, and you have to work for it. Very rarely does change come easy. One of my favorite quotes comes from the rock band, Led Zeppelin, “Yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” Although the band is not the best example to follow for sobriety, these words still resonate strongly. When bad days come, you have to believe that things can change; the only thing standing in your way is yourself.