The Secret to Lasting Change

This will be easy, but I’m going to whisper it for dramatic effect: there is no secret. Now don’t run off in a huff, thinking I’ve misled you with my post title and you’ve arrived here only to waste your valuable time. I have the answer you’re looking for, it’s just that it’s not a secret. None of the answers to the questions you’re looking for are innovative new secrets, nor are they the wisdom of one person or the brainchild of the world’s latest prodigy. They’ve been hanging around for eternity, simply waiting to become visible to you through words or symbolism that will reach you, the individual. Once you begin to seek your answers earnestly, you will be shown that which had formerly been imperceptible to you. In other words, it was always there; you just weren’t aware of it. Kind of like Dorothy already having the power to get back to Kansas- she didn’t actually “earn” it by journeying down the yellow brick road, but she couldn’t believe that she had the power without having made the journey. If you’re far enough along on your journey to understand, or at least begin to understand the magnitude of your power, you’re ready to learn of all the non-secret secrets just waiting for your discovery. Yes, it’s exciting. And terrifying. And that leads me right back to where we started. Gotta love the way the universe works!  

The secret to lasting change is having the will and discipline to open yourself up to discomfort. -LA Holmberg

It’s so simple, right? But simple and easy are two different things. If it was easy, everyone would embrace the act. It’s difficult. It’s not only difficult, it’s damn difficult. At certain levels it is excruciating. And it’s mind-boggling, because before you make a conscious effort to get uncomfortable, you probably weren’t even aware of the fact that you were comfortable in the first place! I know I wasn’t. But since I don’t expect you to take my word for life strategies I advocate without diving in myself first and then fully sharing my own experience- no holds barred- allow me to share what has been my most challenging effort in getting uncomfortable:

no drinking

On October 22, 2016 I decided that beginning the next day, I would not drink alcohol in any form for the next year. Or possibly forever, depending on where I was led. As it would happen, what I was clearly shown to be a one-day-at-a-time endeavor has now become nearly 3.8 years of sobriety. Before making that decision, I had drunk one neat shot of 100% pure agave tequila (the really good stuff- it burns cleaner) in an effort to calm my overly sensitive/hyper/perpetually wound-up self down. I was irritated about something and I wanted calming. I didn’t finish the bottle or even have another- just the one. Full disclosure: Considering I’m buzzed up on one and drunk on two, that’s not entirely a difficult feat for me. It wasn’t noon yet, but what the clock says is rarely of consequence to me, being that I’m generally up by 4am and my 11am could be another person’s 2pm, so I’ve never understood wtf that has to do with anything. I drank my shot, felt the warmth and calm that my friend provided and decided it was TIME. So that time was the last time. Please note, this final decision was not an overnight one, but one based on much thought after having first been laid on my heart quite some time ago. I had begun the weeding-out process in my life and alcohol was not the first “friend” it had become necessary to distance myself from, both literally and figuratively speaking. Was I an alcoholic? No. Did I abuse alcohol? Yeah. Absolutely. Truth be told, I’m a sensitive type with an addictive nature. But I’m tricky about it! If I sense that one thing is getting too big of a hold on me, I’ll replace it with something else. Throughout the years, this has included many of the usual suspects many people abuse: sex, food, alcohol, etc… It’s not that I do any of them to the extreme excess that most would see it as a “problem”, it’s that I would continually rotate one method or another of keeping myself comfortable. Until the day I realized that what I needed more than comfort was freedom. Freedom from the “friends” that were not actually comforting me at all, but enslaving me. I wanted clarity. That clarity would not come from perpetually blanketing myself in comfort.

This is not about the drinking. It’s not about overeating or having indiscriminate sex, or any ONE thing. It’s about understanding that until you’re willing to stop doing the thing that’s blinding you to the thing that your unconscious, fearful self is too afraid to let your conscious self feel, you’ll be sleepwalking through a portion of your life. Ask yourself if that’s what you want. If it’s not, then you have taken the first step in getting uncomfortable- being honest with yourself about what you want most. And armed with that knowledge and a willingness to feel, you’ve begun the journey to get it.

Counting On Spam

Got borders and boundaries? As hard as I’ve worked to instill these necessary behavioral guardrails, every so often I will be made aware that my practice of  “waiting in the cupboard” has resurfaced. If this is one of your challenges as well, simply picture the blue can and remember: you’re NOBODY’S spam. Sometimes we just need a reminder. This post re-run is mine. 

Like the late Rodney Dangerfield, Spam does not get any respect. As far as you may be concerned, it lives its life there in a can in your cupboard, just waiting for the day when you’re craving some sort of meat in your sandwich only to find nary a speck in your household. So you open your cupboard and spy its shiny blue container, welcoming you with open arms. “I won’t let you down. I’ve just been waiting to come alive by allowing you to fry me up, slather me with mustard and throw me down between two slices of bread, where you will then consume the very essence of my being, wash me down with a glass of milk and not acknowledge me again until you get another craving that leads you back to my shiny blue container.” And you see, Spam is cool with that. That’s the thing about Spam- it’s just too damn easy. But that’s okay because it’s Spam.

People, on the other hand, regardless of how they may appear to you, are not. They are complex individuals, ideally changing gradually and metamorphosing into more unabbreviated versions of themselves over time. Unlike Spam, you can not leave them to sit indefinitely in their shiny can expecting them to be there waiting for you to seek them out during your next moment of desolation, when a craving for something with substance, something to take the edge off your inner emptiness leads you back to the familiar comfort they so freely offer. Spam will do that. People should not. Not because they can’t be counted on, not because they’re not loyal, and certainly not because they are unfeeling or lacking in love, but simply because they require more for themselves. Sometimes it just takes them a while to own it.