Be open to change. True change can only happen when we are willing to really look at ourselves; examining our thoughts, our motivations, and our actions without excuses, blaming, and other defenses. When we are defending our position, we are no longer open to self-examination. And when we are no longer open to self-examination, change does not occur.
Being able to really look at ourselves and what motivates our behavior requires us to be vulnerable-vulnerable to ourselves. We must be able to look at aspects of ourselves that we do not like- aspects of ourselves that we have not admitted exist. We must be willing to admit that we are not perfect and that we do make mistakes. Deep self-examination requires us to give up an ideal that we have created in our minds and look at what is, whether we like it or not.
This is not bad news. Quite the contrary! It is only through this acknowledgment that transformation takes place. When we are open to change and know what it is that we need to change, we will not only become healthier ourselves, but we will also form healthier relationships. As long as we make excuses, deny what is, or blame unhealthy patterns of behavior on another, we are closed to change, and our unhealthy ways continue.
Why do we do what we do? Change is scary. Change is hard work. We often avoid change.
- Why do we deny? If we acknowledge our unhealthy patterns, we may have to change them. Denial is often more comfortable than the anxiety that accompanies change. Denial reduces anxiety.
- Why do we blame? If it is all their fault, we feel less guilt and anxiety associated with our behaviors. We can rationalize our actions. We did it because of them. Blaming takes the heat off of us. We do not have to look at ourselves. We rid ourselves of all personal responsibility.
- Why do we make excuses? Again, when we make excuses we do not have to accept personal responsiblity. As long as we are not responsible, we do not have to change.
Our motivation behind our denial, blame, and excuses is not always conscious. We do not typically say to ourselves, Hey, I think I will blame John so that I can relieve myself of all guilt and anxiety. No, it doesn’t work like that. We are often unaware of what we do. But if we have the courage to take a close look at what we do and why we do it, we can create healthier patterns and healthier relationships.
In the September 2012 issue of The Oprah Magazine, Oprah writes, “What I know for sure is that transformation happens when you dare to be awakened to greater heights. When you stay open no matter what. Letting each experience, especially the tough ones, strengthen you and add depth and wisdom. We all make mistakes. Not allowing for other people’s mistakes leaves no room for our own.”
A great paradox: Once you love and accept yourself for who you are, you will then be open to change.
What is it that you need to get real about? What is it that you need to change? Denial, blaming, and excuses will not make it go away. Self love, acceptance, and acknowledgment paired with action just might.