Since it is the last month of the year 2020, I find myself contemplating the past 11 months and thinking about my accomplishments this year as I gear up for the new year, 2021. In spite of the craziness we like to call 2020, it has been a very good year for me personally. I have had a complete physical transformation through weight loss with healthy nutrition and activity. My mindset has been challenged and changed for the better. Understanding that a healthy mindset is the key to a healthy lifestyle has been life-changing for me.
What I’ve discovered is that in order for me to grow as a human being, I have had to be willing to sit through some uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Growing as a person has required facing fear and looking in the mirror. It has meant being willing to step out of my comfort zone to take action in spite of the fear. Isn’t that what courage is — doing something anyway despite the fear you are feeling?!
“Transformation will not happen around you until it first happens inside you.”
I have found this statement to be very true. It has proven true in my life and relationships. When I am having problems around me, it usually means I’m struggling with something within me.
When I am confronted with an ugly truth about myself, I have a choice to make. I can either ignore it, blame someone else for it or take responsibility for it and face it head on. If I ignore it, the problem will never be resolved. In fact, it will most likely get worse. If I blame it on someone else, it could damage a relationship and continue the denial of it. If I want to grow as a person, I must choose to take responsibility. This is the only way to change it from an ugly truth that is potentially limiting my impact and hurting my relationships to an accepted truth which empowers me to improve as a human being.
When faced with this situation, the sooner I can accept the truth, the sooner I can do something about changing it. It is in the denial of the problem that stagnation occurs. Once I can accept that I have an issue in which I need to grow, the change can begin.
Let me give you an example. My husband and I have a great relationship but we still struggle sometimes with communication issues. Recently, he took a risk and confronted me about something I do in our conversations that bothers him. The ugly truth is that I often interrupt him when he is speaking. Now, let’s walk through the possibilities. I could have ignored what he shared with me, denied its viability and moved on. Had I chosen this path, I would continue to hurt my husband by disrespecting him, not only by interrupting him at times but by ignoring him being vulnerable and sharing his heart with me.
I could have gotten defensive and blamed him for my interruptions. Something like, “Well, if you would ever stop talking and give me a chance to say something, I wouldn’t have to interrupt you!” OR I could make excuses like, “If I don’t interrupt you, I will forget what I want to say.” Neither of these choices is honoring to my husband or placing the blame where it belongs — with me.
I opted for the third choice by taking responsibility for my actions. I listened while he shared from his heart, then I apologized for disrespecting him by interrupting. Now, I could take that information and not do anything about changing it. I could even ponder it and spend some time thinking about this personal flaw in my communication (which I did). But unless and until I take action to change it, I will be stuck in this negative pattern. It had actually become a habit for me and one that needed to be broken. Just because something has become a habit doesn’t mean it cannot be changed or eliminated.
When we eliminate a bad habit, like interrupting someone when they are talking, it needs to be replaced by a new, good habit, like listening actively and with empathy. When I am intentionally listening to my husband with empathy, I am much less likely to interrupt him. This is one of the actions I have taken to deal with this problem. Another thing I am doing is placing my finger over my mouth while I’m listening to him. It is a simple physical reminder to keep my mouth shut and wait for him to finish.
I just asked him the other day if he had noticed any improvement and he said, “Yes!” I was glad to hear that since I have been working actively on it. In order to continue this habit, I have to continue the intentional actions I have implemented. An improved relationship and better communication is a good motivator to continue this good habit.
Sometimes, when faced with a change that needs to be made, it requires sitting in the discomfort of my your thoughts and feelings. Our thoughts produce our feelings so anytime you are struggling with a feeling, you can examine your thoughts to see where the feeling is coming from. What are you telling yourself about your situation that causes you to have the feeling? Is it the truth or just a thought? Not every thought we think is the truth. Many of the thoughts we think are misguided or based on misconception or misunderstanding. Some of our thoughts are lies and there is no truth in them.
Taking the time to process through your thoughts and feelings can help you discern the difference. Sometimes, it is not very comfortable but it is necessary in order to determine where that thought came from and whether or not it is true. I encourage you to face the fear of discomfort for that is one of the best ways I have found to reach a new level of comfort, eventually. When I can face the fear, take responsibility and sit with the discomfort for awhile, I am well on my way to discovering a new path and I am positioning myself for personal growth.