Louise surveyed the shambles of the most recent of a series of painful relationships. Never again, she decided. I’m going to change this pattern. Then she began to panic. Who will I be if I do this? Do I have to give up everything important about myself? Will anybody I know still care about me if I change?

One way to gather courage for meeting and making changes is to look at the present direction of your life. Ask yourself these questions:

  • If things continue the way they are, where will I be a year from now?
  • Five years and ten years from now?
  • How will I be remembered by the people who know me?

If the answers show you a picture you want to change, draw a new picture of how you would like things to be and figure out ways to make that happen.

To begin the process, let’s understand and have some compassion for your child self. It is the part of you that decided on the beliefs and behaviors you now hold. These decisions were made when you were small.

You adopted particular ideas, attitudes and behaviors that the child part of you felt would ensure that those around you would stay around you and would continue to provide whatever you needed for survival.

Even now we operate within a limited set of options based predominately on a perpetuation of childhood assessments and feelings. We are just as responsible for those choices now, however, as we were then. This gives us the freedom to change limiting decisions at any time.

We can see change as adding options to our “self-ness” rather than taking something away from what we already have.

Many of the steps in changing and growing are new, risky and probably frightening. A way to deal with these fears is to share what you are doing with your friends and colleagues. Tell them what new behaviors and changes you are practicing. Ask them to reassure you that you have made the right decision. Ask for the support you want.

The more often you engage in new behaviors, the more rapidly your fear will dissipate. You will also become more assured that you are not your beliefs and behaviors. You will still be you, no matter what options you add. Your newly expanded self may find life to be increasingly rewarding and fulfilling.

If the changes you plan to make are profound, it will probably be useful to find support for yourself in making those changes. Support can come from a variety of sources: new friends, coaches, support groups — and if necessary, therapists and other professionals.

[tags]self help, relationships, self-improvement, personal growth, emotional problems [/tags]