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Lasting change

Most of us know that in order to make a change lasting, to make it stick, you need to find the right "why", the right motivation, ideally something bigger than yourself. So what can this "why" be, can you make change last to impress a person, or to be the best version of yourself because you love them and you want to do everything you can to make them happy? Well, the answer is yes and no. We all know of examples where people quit drinking, or lost huge amounts of weight, or started to eat healthy because they fell head over heels in love. And it works - suddenly what used to be an insurmountable obstacle becomes easy, exercise becomes if not a joy then a tool to get closer to him or her, the pounds drop like flies, and booze loses all its attraction, because you'd rather die than have the person one loves get a whiff of it. Trouble starts quickly, though, if the change wasn't something one really wanted - the second the relationship doesn't produce the results one imagined consistently - and few ever do, there are always ups and downs - the sacrifices one made for love become a "pain to endure" which then gets associated to the loved one - that alone can kill the relationship. So the change can last days, weeks, or maybe a couple of months, but it will likely quickly be reversed. Even if the pain of the prospective loss of a relationship becomes so great that one complies, it will breed resentment and lies and deceit. A better chance for the change to endure is when the person always wanted to change, maybe even used to live the desired life, and keeps trying to get there, but never quite gets over the initial "hump" until the change is established, new, healthy alternatives have been found to fill the relevant needs that were previously filled by the unhealthy life style, and the change can even be sustainable for a long time, months or years, and it can be bliss - until there is a serious challenge to the relationship. If, at that point, the relationship was the main driver to keep a person on track with the change, and the change was thereby linked directly to the relationship, then the external challenge to the relationship - which may have nothing to do with the change - will derail the change as well. It's like ink dropped into water - if it is dropped into one glass and makes the water muddy, but another glass is connected, then sooner or later, the water in the other glass will be contaminated as well, and the bigger the drop of ink, the bigger the contamination. In real life that may show up as the drink, or the coffee, or the junk food becoming the tool, the attempt to keep the ink, the pain, out of a part of the glass, a part of the soul by re-establishing the state before the relationship, as "antidote" if you will, as the illusion is that life before the relationship was less painful (all the bliss that the relationship brought either being forgotten, or just increasing the feeling of loss). Reversing the change may also be a tool of revenge, or the one act of rebellion. Of course, there are always was to reframe events, to see the good in them, to be grateful for what was received, and what still is, and the person may even eventually be successful in controlling his or her emotional state 99% of the time, but there will always be times when we go into our pity pot, and if addiction is involved, even if it's only for 0.1% of the time that we go there, that 0.1% is deadly, because it then kicks off a whole new self-reinforcing spiral. Changing for a relationship can work. It can even endure for quite a long time when there was already considerable self-motivation. But it will only last if subsequently the "why" is linked to something else outside ourselves, something that isn't exclusively linked to the relationship and can be de-coupled when challenges in the relationship inevitably arise. That "why" can be something we share. It can even be a shared mission, if the mission is really (also) ours, and was our motivation already before the relationship, e. g. when the mission may have taken on a specific form due to the relationship, may be expressed through a specific vehicle, but relationship or no relationship, the underlying mission and motivation has always been there, and will always endure. If that mission or external goal is present outside our relationship, we may still fall. But we will get back up again and get back on track, no matter what happens to the relationship. It may be easier to get back on track when the relationship goes back on track with our loved one, and we will value the relationship for itself and want to keep the connection and fight for it, the relationship may even be the most important thing for us in the world - but we won't use it as an excuse for a failed change, won't lay the blame at the feet of the other - because there is something bigger than the both of us that still demands the change, and we will follow for our own good and the good of those we are meant to serve, or we will perish. Once that bigger "why" is found, change will be lasting, and life will get much easier for those we love, too. The one thing to remember is that getting my shit together is my responsibility. I can accept and seek help from the outside, and probably should at times, but even if aid is given, my life is still My responsibility and not somebody else's, and when things shift, it is my responsibility to anticipate that possibility in advance and, when it happens, adjust with it and find what works then. Change isn't a sign of life, it IS life. And also, it's not about what I get, but about what I give, and what I get to contribute. We are here to give something to life.


And it is my responsibility to be ready.

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