As a health psychologist, I deal frequently in the business of change. People come to me for insight into to the necessity of making certain changes, for assistance in the process of change, and for encouragement in sustaining previously made changes. In more colloquial terms, they come to me to “boss up”, or to take ownership for their choices and pursue different actions with intentionality. People are often so enthusiastic initially about “being the boss” or about the benefits of their desired change, that they don’t fully count up the costs… i.e., they don’t fully consider what else in their lives might shift as a result of this change. Yes, friends, no matter how wonderful and positive the change you’ve decided to make is, there are often costs that can feel not so wonderful or positive once confronted with them. There is often a quid pro quo or sacrifice that comes with any choice, even the ones you know full well that you should be making. Let me expound.
Say someone makes a health change, like reducing heavy drinking. There are myriad reasons for making such a change, and no doubt lots of people (including and especially me, your friendly neighborhood psychologist) will provide tons of reinforcement and back-pats for a job well done in making that change. However, people are often disillusioned to find that the folks closest to them don’t seem all that jazzed about their change. Those folks might even distance themselves because of that change. That old behavior was what they thought connected you two… without that spurious connection they “just don’t know you anymore”. Sometimes the price of your change comes in the form of a lost relationship. While it might be hurtful, consider whether maintaining a connection to someone who is more invested in the old version of you that was doing destructive things to yourself is a better investment than continuing to cultivate this new version of you that is taking better care of yourself. Boss, sometimes the cost of your change will be an association.
What about a more internal or attitudinal change? Say you tend to have poor boundaries at work. Even though you are overtaxed with your own duties, you take on the tasks of others when they ask because you want to be seen as a “team player” and a “nice person”. You continue to do this despite feeling persistently ran over, ran through, and run amok. Being at your wit’s end, you decide to start saying no when colleagues ask for your help (read: ask you to do their work for them). All of a sudden, you feel a shift in the internal atmosphere. Though you feel less distressed, are taking regular breaks, and are leaving work on time, there’s this liiiiiiittle nagging voice on the inside that asks whether or not you’re still a nice person. You see your co-workers struggle with figuring out the things that you used to just do for them and feel a little guilty for “abandoning” them. This change is a good thing, huh? You’re supposed to be happy, right? Boss, at some points, the cost of your change will be your comfort level. Those old schemas, beliefs, and behaviors were like a fuzzy warm blankie. At one point, they provided you with something… some security, some sense of safety, some familiarity… something. It can be a challenge at first to let go of that old security blankie, but sometimes change requires you to let go of the familiar to grasp onto the phenomenal.
If you are considering making a change and want some support in that process, Level 3 Wellness is here to assist. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or book a consultation through the site at www.level3wellness.com. Kudos to you for investing in yourself and much success to you in making your change. Always remember, "You owe it to yourself to be well".
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is written to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is provided with the understanding that the author is not engaged in rendering psychological, mental/emotional/behavioral health consulting, or other professional services to readers. If psychological advice or other expert assistance is needed, the services of a competent mental health professional should be sought.