In my decade-plus career as a licensed therapist, I’ve worked with hundreds of people who are in some sort of crisis and are seeking healing.
Over time, I’ve learned that there is one consistent factor that leads to lasting change and transformation, and based on that knowledge, I can predict exactly when someone will change.
It comes down to one simple thing—the decision to change.
It’s literally that simple (and that hard).
There is a story I heard once about two cowboys who lived next door to one another. One came to visit the other and they sat out on the porch, shooting the breeze, and sharing tips about their farms. During the visit, the guest noticed the host’s dog lying on the boards and whining.
This happened a few more times and finally, the guest said to the host, “You know, the last few times I’ve been here, I’ve noticed your dog lying there whining and I’m wondering…is he sick?”
The host replied, “Nah, he isn’t sick. There’s an exposed nail where he lies down, and it rubs against his skin and causes him pain.”
Incredulous, the first cowboy said, “Well, why doesn’t he move?” The host shrugged, chewed on his straw, and said, “I suppose it doesn’t hurt bad enough.”
It is the same with humans.
We learn how to cope with pain and discomfort, and over time, it becomes our normal state. We adapt to the pain and learn how to work around it.
In some cases, it remains bearable and we keep living with the quiet ache of despair. In other cases, the pain becomes such that we decide to make a change. It’s the folks in the second case that are the ones who transform.
These are the ones who don’t see hiring an expert as an expense, but as an investment. These are the ones who show up ready to do the work. These are the ones who follow through on the homework suggestions, commit themselves to their growth, and won’t settle for the comfort of familiar pain.
There is no easy path to lasting change; there are no “10 steps” that will transform our lives unless we actually do the work. There is no magical pill we can take that will suddenly make everything right. There is no easy road to the highest mountaintops.
The day our lives change boils down to a simple factor—it’s when we decide to commit to change. It’s when we decide to shed the comfortable suffering for the often painful and taxing process of transformation.
It comes when we decide that the nail digging into our side is no longer tolerable. It’s when we get up and move.
Paulo Coelho said, “When you want something, the entire universe conspires to help you achieve it.”
The choice is ours.
Author: Lisa Vallejos, PhD
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Leah Sugerman
Social Editor: Taia Butler