Why do I keep trying? Time after time, year after year, I keep trying. Why? What for? What am I really getting out of it? Anything? Change is hard. Really, really, really, super hard. It’s almost near impossible at times. And despite how hard it is to change, I still try. Why? This got me thinking about why I keep trying for something that is so hard and has no guarantee of success. It also got me thinking about why some people don’t change, or even try.
I can only speculate why others don’t change, or try. So speaking for myself, the simplest answer I can give as to why I keep trying to change myself is, I am not okay with the alternative.
The alternative, if I don’t make changes and everything stays the same, means I stay miserable and in pain and in some very dark places. It means having dark, disordered thoughts. It means having my emotions overwhelm me. It means having no energy and no motivation. It means feeling alone and terrified. It means feeling trapped and paralyzed. It means keeping toxic people in my life. It means hating myself. It means being completely closed off from everything. And it means sometimes wanting to take my own life.
And for me, that is not okay. Frankly, it’s unacceptable. I don’t want any part of that. It’s an awful place to be and an awful feeling to have. It’s barely an existence let alone a life, and I want more. I want better. I want to be okay. And unfortunately, the only way to get there is to change.
It’s not always a noble cause. Sometimes I try to change because I think it’s what I should do. Sometimes I try to change because I think it’s what others want. Sometimes I even try to change because I just don’t know what else to do. Mostly though, I do it for me, because like I said, the alternative, to me, is much, much worse than what goes into changing.
Change isn’t for everybody. Some people are so afraid of it that they don’t even consider it. It’s just too much. I can appreciate that fear. Change can mean losing your home, your family, your friends, and everything you’ve known. How can that not scare a person? We’re often blindsided by big changes that we have no control over, and they can be overwhelming and painful. Real change is super hard. Especially when it involves thoughts and behaviours that are so ingrained in us they feel as though they are permanent. It takes loads of time and a lot of effort to change.
Which leads me to why I think some people don’t change. Or try. They just live in their darkness and struggle trying to make it through the day. They live with their disordered thinking and false beliefs without trying to learn their truth. And I have to admit, this baffles me. Why would people want to live like this? Why would anyone want to stay like this? Why wouldn’t people want to change? Why would anyone want to stay in such a miserable, awful, painful place of mental illness? It doesn’t make sense to me.
And therein lies the first problem to this judgmental thinking. Trying to make sense of it. Trying to apply any logic to ourselves, our thoughts, our emotions, or our behaviours, especially when they are disordered and dysfunctional, can be a frustrating and fruitless endeavour, and it may or may not help. The second problem is, just because someone lives day-to-day just trying to make it through, doesn’t mean they want to live like this. And the last problem is, a lot of people do want to change, but it’s scary and hard to change, and that can definitely be enough to stay our hand.
The days when I find change is just as hard as you think it is, and efforts that I have made to change are playing hide and seek with me, I am reminded of why someone might not want to change. When I think of the resistance, and in some cases the avoidance, of wanting to change, I think of my mom. The queen of no change. As far as I’m concerned anyway.
She not only didn’t try to change, she never gave an inkling of indication that she ever wanted to. Here’s where a lot of my judgment comes in. Because I believe she had to know things weren’t right. She was smarter than she gave herself credit for, she had to feel that something wasn’t right. Why on earth would she want to stay in her mind as it is? Swarming with low self-esteem, horrific lies about her worth, and trauma that she never was able to process, and she chooses to stay there? Why?
These are all assumptions on my part. Only my mom knows what she knows. Maybe she did know she could change, maybe she didn’t. Maybe she was too afraid of it, or maybe she felt she didn’t deserve it. I can certainly relate to either of those beliefs.
In my moments of compassion, empathy and understanding I am able to realize that change is terrifying and change is hard and no matter what some might say, wanting to change is not enough. Efforts to change can go on for years and even then there is no guarantee that things will get better. Change can mean digging very deep into memories and emotions that can be extremely painful.
Digging deep can mean seeing things in a harsh perspective that we might not be ready for or want to see. There may be some truths that we don’t want to know. There may be some lies we that don’t want to challenge. Digging deep can change how we see people and question our relationship with them. Digging deep can even change how we see ourselves. And this can mean making changes to our life that scare us and we might not be ready for it because it may mean leaving someone or removing them from our life, and this can be very hard. It can even feel like we can’t. We may not even be sure if we want to. It’s a tough situation. And to everyone it’s personal.
Despite how awful and painful mental illness can be it’s familiar. And we take comfort in the familiar. We like routine even if the routine is hurting us. It’s just something we do. You can try to pick apart why but I don’t recommend it.
For some people change is just not in the cards. For some, they will choose willingly not to change. They just don’t, or won’t, want to go there. It’s just too scary. For some, they may want to change, badly, but the fear is just too great. For some, change is the only way, no matter how much it may hurt.
I try to remember that change isn’t for everybody and what someone else is willing to face is really up to them. For me I keep trying and hope like hell it happens. To be honest, I have come a long way from where I was, and some things have changed so it makes me want to keep trying and keep changing. It tells me that more change, and for the better, is possible.
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I’ll ever understand why some people don’t even try to make things better. I guess that’s not really my call. I can only take care of me and hope for the best even if it means making changes that hurt. And I will try to keep having patience and understanding for those who don’t, or won’t, and hope for the best for them as well. It’s really all I can do.