Why is change so difficult? There are lots of different types of change that scare people. Moving into a new house, changing schools, changing jobs, getting married, and numerous others. Other changes that may be more difficult are ones require daily effort on the part of the individual. This could include things like exercising daily, eating better, or quitting smoking. But an even more difficult change involves looking deep inside yourself, seeing something you don’t like, and determining to change it. Maybe you realize you’re greedy with money or your time. Maybe you’re selfish. Perhaps you treat people poorly and you’re not sure why.
When we think of being mentally healthy, these may not be the first things that come to mind. We more often think of depression, anxiety, and other “common” things that people struggle with. So often though, people can discover more about themselves and what makes them “tick” through counseling. And issues such as greed, selfishness, rudeness and many others can be just as damaging to one’s life as diagnosable issues like depression or anxiety.
So why is it so difficult to change these things? Often when we hold up a mirror to our inner selves we don’t like what we see. It is easier to just ignore the problem. We can pray for forgiveness to God for being short (again) with our spouse, but it often stops there. Could there be a reason why you are often short or snippy with your significant other? I love a point that C.S. Lewis makes in his book Mere Christianity. He says that when we sin against others we make excuses for our behavior. If we are rude to somebody we might excuse it by saying “I was tired,” or “I had a long day,” or any number of things that shift the blame away from us and onto something else.
Unfortunately, these excuses can have a way of masking the real problem. Maybe you’re always short and rude with people because you’re afraid of getting close to them and building relationships. Maybe you’re greedy with money because you struggle with having the faith to believe that God will provide for you and take care of you. Stopping to ask ourselves why we behave the way we do and why we make the excuses that we make to justify our bad behavior is never a pleasant experience, but it’s a necessary one if we are ever going to change. The next time you go to make an excuse, consider whether the behavior you’re trying to excuse is one that you’d rather change. Ignoring the problem or making excuses is the easy way out. But real change isn’t easy. Becoming insightful about our problems and our shortcomings is only the first step to change, but it’s a big one.