Permission to Change

This is something in life that I have learned; that sounds so simple yet can be so difficult; that is essential to accomplishing your goals, to improving health & fitness; that is essential to growth: You have to give yourself permission to change. 

I Did It

This is me being authentic and vulnerable and honest here.  I have had a lot of change in my life, and it never comes easy.  I’m one of those people who listens to Biggie say, “damn right, I like the life I live, ’cause I went from negative to positive,” and it hits me right in the gut and brings tears to my eyes.

I was once a guy with a bad attitude, a really messed-up negative outlook on life.  I was aggressive, criminal, violent.  I had bad habits and addictions.  I did a lot of self-destructive and anti-social things on the regular.  But all that was able to change when I gave myself permission to change.

  • I had to recognize that things needed to change.
  • I had to recognize that I was able to change, that change was possible.
  • I had to make a decision to change.
  • I had to say goodbye to situations that brought me back to the old ways I was trying to change.
  • I had to say goodbye to people who didn’t allow me to change.
  • I had to build a new life, a new environment that was conducive to the changes I was creating in myself.
  • I had to be single-minded about it and push through until I got to the other side.

None of this was ever easy.  It took a ton of discipline and willpower.  Whether it was getting in shape or quitting drinking there was always physical and emotional pain involved.  There was also the pain of leaving behind friends or activities that had once brought me joy.  There were naysayers to ignore and self-critical thoughts to push away.  Change isn’t easy.

Now You Do It

If you’ve said, “I want to get fit,” or, “I want to quit,” or, “I want to go back to school,” then you’ve already done the first step: recognizing the need to change.  If you can verbalize a complaint, that means your mind has already seen an incongruence between how your world actually is and how you want it to be.  And, you’ve put it into words, so that means you have consciously acknowledged the problem and now have some impetus to change it.

Now you need to give yourself permission.  You changed from an infant who pooped in diapers to an adult who uses the toilet, and how hard was that?  (Yes, I am potty training a child right now.) You changed from a kid with no skills to an adult with talents and abilities. You’ve already been able to change a lot of things in your life.  You are not a static being: You are dynamic.  You are changing from moment to moment. Your cellular makeup and biochemistry and synapses in the brain, it’s all in a constant state of change.  Why shouldn’t your attitudes about yourself be able to change?  Why shouldn’t your habits and behaviors be able to change?  You can, and if you’ve recognized that you need to then you ought to.

You know something needs to change.  You know you are able to change.  But nothing will ever happen until you decide it’s time to do it.  Give yourself an ultimatum, or a deadline, or bundle the desired change with some other big milestone or event in your life.  You might say, “I’m quitting sugar on my 50th birthday,” or, “When we go on vacation, I’m changing my hairstyle to a mohawk.”  Tell the people you love and trust about this decision you’ve made.  If they’re the right people to have around, they’ll support you and help keep you accountable to your choice.

You’re making a major change in your life, but nothing ever exists without context.  No man is an island, as they say, and nature abhors a vacuum.  So, whatever bad habit or old mindset you are trying to change, it has a home, a context in which it lives.  Maybe the context is a certain activity you once liked to do, but it came with too much baggage.  Maybe it’s a place you once loved to go, but the things that happen there aren’t for you anymore.  Maybe it’s the couch in your living room.  Time to say goodbye.

You’re probably going to have to cut some people off as well.  This is the hardest part about making major changes in your life.  People can be good and supportive and loving, but they can also be abusive jerks: Depends on the people you’re hanging out with.  Some of you have jealous parents who never want to see you do good because they think it makes them look bad.  Some of you have friends who always called you the “fat guy” and won’t ever let you live that down.  If you want to do better and you believe in yourself, but they don’t believe in you, then you’re gonna have to say bye-bye, at least for the time being.

Now go build your new world.  As we don’t live in a vacuum and our habits or behaviors don’t live in a vacuum, this new change you’re trying to make doesn’t come by itself either.  You might need a new place to hang out, or a new hobby, or a new couch, or new friends–you need to create that new environment for the new behavior to live in.  Sometimes this is as simple as finding a new grocery store to shop at, but for some people it means moving to a new town (or new country), buying all new clothes, and changing their name.

Put your head down, do the work, and don’t stop until you get there.  For some changes, this is easier done than said, but sometimes it is easier said than done.  Whatever the magnitude of the change you are trying to make in your life, you’re going to need to commit and take action–consistent action–take the same action repeatedly until the change can become permanent.  You’re going to encounter doubts, you’re going to have nostalgia for old feelings and places and people that went along with the old you, you’re going to feel weak at times, or self-conscious, but you’ve committed to something true and important and you can’t quit now.  Maybe it will be a slower process than you thought.  Maybe you’ll need to make a series of smaller changes instead of massively changing everything at once.  The key is to persist.  Believe in yourself and the person you want to be and go do the work that is required to get there.

Be true to yourself and all else will take care of itself.




Published by nicnakis

Nicholas |nik-uh-luhs| n. a male given name: from Greek words meaning "victory of the people" John |jon| n. a male given name: from Hebrew Yohanan, derivative of Yehohanan "God has been gracious" Nakis |nah-kis| n. a Greek family name derived from the patronymic ending -akis (from Crete) Amha |am-hah| n. an Ethiopian given name meaning "gift", from Geez Selassie |suh-la-see| n. Ethiopian name meaning "trinity", from Geez

4 thoughts on “Permission to Change

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: