I don’t know what’s worse. When something positive in my life changes for the worse, or when I can’t change something negative in my life.
Think about the difference.
Human beings are terrified of change, we become accustomed to certainties in our life, it makes us feel comfortable, it helps use relax. Knowing there are certain things you can depend on, whether it be a person, place or thing, is the foundation for your daily routine, and your life as a whole.
Having a significant other in your life that you know will be there every step of the way, someone who will support each and every one of your endeavors is magical. However that doesn’t mean certainties are always positive. When you go to McDonald’s or a similar venue, you expect shitty service. You’re aware that by patronizing a restaurant that sells extremely discounted food, you are potentially sacrificing other aspects of your experience.
This can lead to reactions that seem “unfair.” If you are constantly there for somebody, if you support them each step of the way, your absence will have a resounding affect. Once somebody is accustomed to your behavior, it leaves you vulnerable, it means that on the off chance you are not there, they will notice and condemn your actions.
For instance, Kobe Bryant is an amazing NBA basketball player, meaning when he does poorly, it actually becomes much more interesting of a story then when he succeeds. We expect him to be great, so when that change occurs, and he appears average, it is startling.
It works both ways though, and this is the unfair aspect. If somebody consistently lets you down, or behaves selfishly, their good deeds stand out, you notice when they put the extra effort because it is unexpected. You’ve set the bar so low they have no choice but to exceed expectations, then again, even if they don’t, you’re facilitating their behavior and have already anticipated a certain level of disappointment.
However with this type of change, regardless of the outcome, you are in control, you are making the decisions, you’re not waiting for something to change but taking things into your own hands and changing them yourself. You don’t have to rely on anybody but yourself because you decide whether that person, place or thing will be apart of your life. It can be painful, nothing is more painful then coming to terms with a reality you don’t want to face, but you’re still “controlling your own destiny.” You might not make the “right” decision, but it’s still up to you to make that decision.
The other type of change is vastly more complex, this type of change toys with your emotions, leading to insecurity and doubt. When there is a negative aspect in your life that you cannot change, it becomes infuriating, almost as if you are trapped.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can’t change people, they can only change themselves. If your parent is addicted to drugs, you can’t change that, they’re not doing it to spite or hurt you, in fact they probably want to change more then you want them too, but you can’t do anything about it, the decision is in their hands. This is when the changes are out of your control.
So what’s more painful?
When an established certainty betrays you, leaving you consumed by doubt and regret.
When painful circumstances are out of your control, leaving you helpless and wishful.
I like to consider myself a selfless person. I don’t subscribe to the theory of “treat others the way you want to be treated,” because I think you should treat people better then they treat you, I truly believe that it is more important to make certain people and things a priority over your own desires. You only truly “care” about something if you care about it more then yourself.
That’s why I feel the second scenario is far more painful.
Obviously I don’t like positive things in my life changing. If I’ve come to expect something, I hope that it will maintain the level of excellence I’ve become accustomed too. However, many instances that seem initially grim, can often result in superior circumstances. People are afraid of change, but that’s generally their initial defensive reaction, you don’t comprehend the full effects, you just realize things are different and dispute it. This sucks, but as I stated previously you are still the person in control. If something changes, and you don’t appreciate or accept it, YOU can change it, you still have the power to in or exclude that aspect of your reality.
The other scenario doesn’t allow that type of control. It leaves you powerless, anxious, vulnerable.
When you have to put your emotions in the hands of another, you’ve lost control, you’ve lost control of your own fate because you are focused on what somebody else is going to do, not what you can or can’t do. To further illustrate my point, I will refer to the mental conditions known “Battered Woman’s Syndrome” and “Stockholm Syndrome.”
Battered Woman’s Syndrome is mental instability caused by domestic violence. It happens to women who are beaten or mistreated so often by the person they love so dearly, they start making apologies for that person, they begin to think that there actions are the problem and they probably “deserve” the abuse (The abuse can be physical OR mental.) No matter how beautiful somebody is, if another person tells them every day they are ugly, they will eventually accept it as a fact.
This is what I mean when I refer to a negative aspect you can’t change. From the outside looking in, it would appear that you can indeed change this, but it’s not that simple.
There are two sets of people, the type who would never, in a million years, abuse a person they love. No matter how angry, how furious, how disgusted they are with another person, they would never resort to physical violence or mental terror. The other set of people is the type that would justify this type of abuse, that would provide excuses or loopholes to assure their innocence.
You can’t change that mindset, you are either in one set or the other. However, if you love somebody, or think you love somebody, reality isn’t always prominent. You’ve accepted the behavior and instead of changing the situation, you’re attempting to change yourself to comply with their abuse. You’re so afraid of change you accept the pain.
Never change yourself for another person. If they can’t accept you for who you are, they don’t need to be in your life. Again, easier said then done.
Stockholm Syndrome takes a similar path. This is the theory that children or young adults that are kidnapped spend so much time with their kidnappers, they begin to take their side. This is often caused by the confusion of their situation, children need love and attention, so naturally they will begin to acclimate themselves to the person nurturing them even if it is not in their best interest.
These are obviously extreme circumstances, but I’m utilizing these examples to illustrate the difficulty of dealing with change. You don’t want to rock the boat, you don’t want to deal with the impending difficulties of life, so you adapt and accept.
When something positive in my life changes, I can handle it, in fact I’ve almost come to expect adversity, I expect other people to eventually let me down. It’s probably not the best way to look at life but it allows me to prepare myself for undesired circumstances.
However, when I can’t change something negative in my life, I have no power, no say in the matter. I’ve ceased to be a player in the game and have simply become a spectator. I hate this feeling. I hate the fact that I can look at a situation in my life, knowing full well that it is completely wrong, yet continue to choose that route.
Whether you’re addicted to a drug, alcohol, cigarettes or even another person, everybody knows the pain of witnessing an absence of logic. Everybody has something in their life they want to change but just can’t come around to it, every today becomes a tomorrow. Nothing deters reality quite like emotion.
So this is my advice, accept the changes life throws at you, there will be many, but don’t ever settle. If you don’t like your appearance, don’t eat at that restaurant you like so much, knowing full well it will have a negative effect. If you’re constantly unhappy every single day, maybe you’re not “in love” with that person or thing as much as you initially thought.
Think about how obvious decision are when they are somebody else’s, how easy it is to give advice to others, how easy it is to tell another what they should be doing. It’s much more difficult to practice what you preach, to take matters into your own hands, to sacrifice immediate gratification for long term benefit.
I’m man enough to admit that I can’t handle this type of change, that I allow other people to control my emotions, that I allow myself to be vulnerable and powerless.
The point of this post is to wish you the strength I don’t have. Change is an inevitable aspect of life, just make sure that when something changes, you still have the power to make some of your own.