Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Roadblocks to Life Change

If your life doesn't change, you'll continue being the same person you've always been, doing the same things you've always done and getting the same results you've always gotten.  If your life is going to become greater; if you're going to grow and develop into the person God created you to be, then life change has to happen.  However, the process of change is very difficult.

In every life change journey, there are roadblocks.  These obstacles are relentless and will seemingly do whatever it takes to prevent your life from experience the necessary alterations you know need to happen.

However, changing, on the surface, seems pretty easy.  At first, you think, "If I can just put my mind to it" or "If I can have a good support system around me," and that ideology has a way of building a false confidence that fails you as soon as you lose your focus.  It happens every year about this time.  New Year's Resolutions become a thing of the past.  We begin vacating our gym memberships and revisiting the Little Debbie displays at our local grocery store.  We go from 'quitting cold turkey' to, "I'll just have one cigarette a day."  Compromise happens as a result of our inability to change ourselves, and yet, when all is said and done, we're right back to where we started.

Change is very difficult. Most of the time, if you'll look closely, there are 4 major roadblocks that block our path to change.  These things follow us, haunt us,  and work against us in our pursuit of a greater existence and until we address them, we'll never get past them.  Here they are:


Every adult brings good things with them from their childhood and these things help develop us into the people we are today.  In the same way, we probably bring some not-so-good things with us as well; we'll call this our baggage.  Everyone carries some kind of emotional baggage from their past.  Some of the most common pieces of luggage include perfectionism, fear, anger, the need to please, or the need to control.  As adults, when we choose to bring our baggage on the journey with us, it has a way of causing us to think, feel and behave in an insecure childhood state of mind instead of as the adults we've grown to become.  When we choose to carry this baggage with us, it causes us react to the world around us in an unproductive way and it tends to sabotage any effort in achieving positive change in our life.


When you live your life looking through the lens of your baggage, you tend to develop deeply ingrained habits that dictate how you act on and react to the world around you.  It's like someone who teaches themselves the game of golf.  The swing is wrong.  The technique is poor.  And because they didn't do it the right way from the beginning, changing it now will be nearly impossible.  We develop muscle memory in our sports technique the same way we do in life.  We respond a certain way.  We act a certain way.  We use a certain language or have a certain response because that's the way we've always done it.  Similarly, when your baggage becomes ingrained as habits, they produce seemingly reflexive responses even when they are neither healthy or adaptive.  The challenge is that, once habits are ingrained, it becomes difficult to retrain them.


Negative emotions can act as a powerful deterrent to life change.  When a person becomes consumed with thoughts of fear, anger, sadness, frustration, and hopelessness, it's nearly impossible to change unless they're able to redirect their thought process.  For instance, many people don't attempt to change because they're afraid they may fail.  They say things like, "What if I can't change?  If I fail, I'll look like a bigger failure than I already am."  And then they say, "I've been this way a long time and I'm surviving it.  Why take the risk?"  These negative emotions become substantial barriers to change by being triggered whenever you feel uncomfortable, incompetent, or unsupported, and the only relief is to crawl back into your shell where you're most comfortable and avoid the change you initially sought after.


Without even trying, you create an environment for yourself that helps you best manage your baggage, habits and emotions.  You surround yourself with people that support who you are and the way you are.  These people make you feel comfortable and safe and accepted.  You naturally become engaged in activities that play to your strengths and help you mask the obstacles in your life.  Unfortunately, this environment reinforces who you are now and can interfere with you achieving the goals of experiencing the changes you know you need to experience. Don't be content where you are in the areas you know God wants you to grow.  Keep your eye on the prize and run to it.

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