Changes take time and it’s important to acknowledge this. I have thousands of sessions every year with people and one fact that can come out when people have been trying to get better, is the fear of failure. If we try to push ourselves too hard to change or expect too much of ourselves then we will be adding to the issues, not helping them. What we need to do is find ways that we challenge ourselves but not strain ourselves over the process of changing. If we see this changing process as three stepladders; the first one is full of lots of rungs very close together and this is when we are not pushing ourselves enough to change. If we have become afraid of driving on the motorway and we are struggling to gain our confidence again, if we are also not going on dual carriageways much or even driving much, then we won’t be challenging ourselves much to change and find, like the ladder, we are just stepping on the spot and not moving forward with change.
Imagine the second ladder with rungs so far apart that you would split your difference even trying to reach the next rung. This is like when we are expecting too much of ourselves and we think we can run before we can walk. If this is like the motorway driving fears, we are trying to push ourselves to drive to London and back and wonder why we are still feeling too afraid to do this, as too much is as bad as too little when it comes to taking steps to change. The third set of ladders has manageable steps, not too small or too big, that help you challenge yourself to keep stepping and moving forward. This would mean with your driving fears, you would have set aside time each week to drive, you will have found the shortest motorway junctions or the quietest ones, at the least busy times. You will set as many things in place to help support you for the first few times and then as your confidence builds you will need less and less support.
But if you just go once or twice on the motorway and then don’t go for several weeks again this will not help you gain the confidence you need to get motorway driving back to normal. What we need is time and practice to help us feel normal again in these situations. Expecting too little or too much of yourself will just stress you out and that additional stress will get added to your existing fear levels. I think a good plan of action is the best thing to help you through times of change and help you keep the perspective you need to not feel you are failing in making these changes.
Our mindset is the most important thing in helping us change and using positive ways to support ourselves is the key to this. Not letting yourself put yourself down with fears of failure and thinking that time is against us is a much better way of dealing with things. For many of us, these things haven’t been around for just a week or two, for lots of us they have been around for years and even decades. So, expecting too much of ourselves to change in a short amount of time is just not going to work. Maybe you can set some smaller steps to help you feel the benefits of changing and use each step as a motivator rather than the bigger goal. For many of us, we can split our issues down into different parts and then work on each aspect to help us boost our mindset over the changes we are making. Each part of the steps we take to change can then help positively support our mindset over changing and also break down the time we take to change into more manageable sections.
If it has taken us ten years to get to this negative place, we can’t expect to change in a month, we need to accept that time is what we need to change. Failure is for many of us the first place we go to when we think about changing, as it is often how we have felt as our issues from the past over time have chipped away at our confidence. Rebuilding our confidence is the key to this process and finding a way to make these changes in steps and not accepting too little or too much is the key.
Make today the start of supporting yourself by making positive changes in your life and not letting anything get in your way. There are always ups and downs with change, try to embrace those and get more focused on the positive things rather than pulled down by the negative things. Sara x