When old dogs drink water and horses learn new tricks. 

Change is hard for many reasons for many people. While each of us likely have different reasons change is hard, the common denominator here is that change is hard. And we don’t like it. Maybe, I’m speaking more for myself than anyone else here. 

I hate change. It’s rough, it’s coarse, it gets into everything… no , wait that’s sand. Yeah, I still hate change. It’s uncomfortable, it’s disruptive, and it doesn’t always lead us to where we want to go. 

Change inevitably challenges the stays quo and forces us outside of the comfort zones we have nestled ourselves into. It forces us into situations we may not naturally find ourselves in. I’m a people person. I thrive on being in groups of people and being the center of attention. My undergraduate degree focused on preaching, being in front of large groups of people, who are all focused on and listening to me. I have friends, I have close friends. Small, intimate groups of people who know me, truly know me… scare me. I have found myself recently, being pushed towards change that is forcing me to meet this discomfort head on and to be uncomfortable. Strangely, I find myself enjoying the challenge of the change and even strangely I find myself beginning to thrive amongst the change. 

Change disruptively breaks through routines, traditions, and ‘the way we’ve always done things.’ This is far worse than being forced outside of a comfort zone. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m a creature of habit. I find routines to be soothing. Traditions are tradition for a reason, they bring stability and consistency. When we allow change into our lives, it has a disruptive effect that reaches far beyond the immediate routine it challenges. The disruption caused by change reaches its tendrils into every aspect of our lives and disrupts thought processes, belief systems, and values. Have I said I don’t like change? I don’t like to do things differently and to change my routines. Change has disrupted my established and accepted work routines. I have been disrupted into routines that are very uncomfortable for me. Despite the disruptive nature of the disruptions, I have found myself not only enjoying the disruptive change, but looking forward to it. 

Frustratingly, change doesn’t always lead us where we want to go. Change by its nature has inherent risk to it. Anytime we endeavor to things differently than we have in the past, there is risk it won’t work out or worse we won’t like it and be stuck. My first job out of college, I worked for a campus ministry at UGA and my boss taught me it’s acceptable to take the risks that come with change, because if it doesn’t work we can change the change. This concept blew my mind. You mean, I can change the change if the change isn’t the change I want it to be? Hell, yeah you can! Several months ago, I made a work change that didn’t pan out the way I was hoping. So what did I do? I am making plans to change the change. So, you know more change… because I like it so much. 

This idea of change is something that comes up often in my line of work. Working within the context of mental health and social services, change is necessary for the people I work with to move forward. Change is very much possible. More than that, change is necessary and it is inevitable. Things can’t stay the same forever. We can’t stay the same forever. Change is never easy, it is never easy. Change is always hard and it always takes almost all the effort. 

I interact with people on a daily basis who find themselves in the midst of the struggles of mental illness. One subject we discuss on a nearly daily basis is the concept of change, and our ability as individuals to change. Knowing change is uncomfortable, disruptive, and often leading us where we don’t want to go, and beyond all of that it is inevitable and unavoidable… knowing all of this, where do we go from here? Do we accept change really isn’t possible? Do we accept old dogs can’t learn new tricks and horses can’t be led to water they will drink? On the contrary, change is a necessary and essential part of life. Change is unavoidable. None of this makes the experience of change any easier. Change still sucks and it is still hard… but it is possible. When we find ourselves in the midst of crisis or struggles with our mental health, it is easy to believe change is not possible. Believing change is not possible, leads us to giving up and not trying to change. Several years ago, I suffered what can only be described as a mental breakdown. There were many factors playing into, not only the mental breakdown itself, but my recovery from it. All of those intricate and necessary factors put aside, real recovery wasn’t seen until I decided it was time for me to change. It was time for me to do things differently. It was time for me walk through the discomfort, the disruption, to go places I didn’t always want to be. To change. In the context of mental health, changing our thought processes and changing our behaviors is never easy. It is always hard. It always takes more effort and energy than we want to put into it. Often the first place to start to overcome mental illness is to make a decision to change. I am by no means suggesting if you are depressed, anxious, manic, and struggling with any other of the many mental illness related struggles, it the road is an easy or simple one that only requires you to change your mind or decide to not be depressed. What I am saying is, changing the way we think is the beginning of changing the way we act, which is the beginning of the road to recovery. It is never simple and it is never easy, but it is always possible. 

I hate change. It is likely I will always hate change. However, I have realized change is not only necessary, but it is a good thing. As I enter the next season of the journey of my life, I am leaning into the change and making my best effort to enjoy it. 

What change do you need to make in your life to get closer to who you want to be?

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