I don’t remember ever having known somebody who didn’t have something about themselves that they wanted to change. And pretty much everyone has had something that they really struggled with.
It’s certainly true about me and I encountered the same obstacle that others have. We get frustrated when the change we want doesn’t happen right away. We expect it to come naturally and easily, and without any setbacks. We think that once we have set our mind to it, that all we need is willpower to make things fall right into place.
Granted, that is enough for the small things. They happen with much less effort. Conversely, the bigger the change, the bigger the challenge. Some changes are really hard for people, things like quitting smoking, losing weight, exercising regularly, and addictions (which are difficult enough to be in a category of their own). The roads to these successes have more speed bumps. You have to be a bit tougher because your persistence gets tested and the temptation to give in is stronger.
It stands to reason that these are harder. You’ve been overeating and smoking, for instance, for a long time. To be honest, you enjoy this on some level (even if these behaviors are also harmful ). It’s what you are accustomed to, the familiar way you have of living your life and the comfort zone inside which you feel most secure. Living with the consequences – the hacking cough, the embarrassment over your waist line, the shortness of breath on the way up a flight of stairs – got easier over time, such that you don’t think about them much at all.
Then you decide to change, but you find that the behaviors are more ingrained and intractable than you realized. You try, make a strong effort, then slip back and have a cigarette or a Snickers, and frustration sets in, even despair. You find yourself asking “Can I ever change?” and your answer is no, if not at the first slip, then at a subsequent one. If it goes on, you just stop trying altogether. There is only one thing that is effective in a situation like this and that is to accept the reality that change is a process. It takes time, effort, and patience before you really see the results you want. You have to forgive your missteps and learn from them. Each one can tell you something you need to know if you ask yourself how it happened, what went wrong, and what is missing from your plan. It’s a way of redeeming your weaker moments, taking a fall, and turning it into something useful.
Without this attitude, you just end up taking a hit and losing initiative, but if you can learn from what you did, you make a mistake itself part of your progress and you’re a few steps further down the road.