The Real Reasons why you are Stuck!
I have gone through the change cycle several times concerning seriously wanting to kick my mental health to the curb, and every time I end up talking myself out of really changing. I may chip away slightly doing little things that make my mental health more tolerable, but I can never seem to let go completely.
I have had many breaking points that have led to rock bottom moments in my life.
Normally, if you resist change for long enough, something will happen in your life that will put you in a position where you have no choice but to change.
However, I seem to never fully listen or engage with its message. Is this you too?
The truth comes when you understand the underlying reasons you’ve been allowing yourself to keep on avoiding the change and some can be very hard-hitting, trust me!
But with a heavy hit, comes relief and once the pain softens you are then able to really reflect on the truth behind your past decisions to stick with the pain.
This can be regarding any problem in your life, be it your job, relationship, health, inner truth, recovery etc.
I’m going to talk about the real reasons why I find recovering from my mental health difficult. There's a part of me that actually doesn't want to recover.
Can you confess to this truth too?
Read the underlying reasons below and see if you too can identify with any of them. Remember, there is no shame in being honest. Owning up to your truth is courageous!
Real Reason 1
The whole process of getting better is scary, it's uncomfortable and as humans, our brains are wired to identify possible threats- change is one of them.
When we avoid a threat, we experience relief. This relief is also known as dopamine, therefore when we avoid a threat we are rewarded with the pleasant feeling of relief.
When I avoid the change that will lead me to recover, I experience a pleasant feeling instead of an uncomfortable one.
Real Reason 2 My dream of what recovery means to me isn’t big enough.
When I imagine being ‘recovered’ (whatever that means to you- its different for everyone) I don’t have any high hopes, dreams of goals. I just picture it as an ‘average’ day.
Can you see the problem?
What I need to do is really envisage the life that I want to live- my best life. What would it look like?
I have made having my mental illness look more appealing than not.
Real Reason 3 I am letting my fear be bigger than me, which basically means I continually settle for what is in front of me.
I doubt myself all of the time, including my ability, knowledge, confidence, determination.
I struggle to be proud of my work and my own achievements. I suppose I set my expectations too high.
I have poor self-confidence and am doing nothing to improve the process scares me.
Real Reason 4 I am attached to my problem.
You may find this one difficult to accept especially if you have lived with mental health issues for years and can relate to me with having made several attempts to change.
But, do you believe that you would be nothing without your mental illness?
Do you believe that your mental illness is your story, your purpose?
If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, what you are doing is continually feeding your ego (the part of us that is governed by external content, that leaves us unaware and decreases our consciousness as a living being)
You become climatized to the ego’s ways and become a living robot, that follows the rules external to your core beliefs, which is also known as your internal harmony.
I cannot give up my mental illness because I feel like I will lose a part of me. What I need to remind myself is that my mental illness does not define me, it does not make me who I am!
Real Reason 5 I am benefiting from my problem.
This is known as 'secondary gain' and is defined as 'any positive advantage that accompanies physical or psychological symptoms'. Most of the time we are deeply unaware of these secondary gains, however they usually reflect actual needs that need to be met.
Many times I have felt frustrated because symptoms would not go away despite my best efforts in treatment.
Accepting that a secondary gain may be holding you back from moving forward can be difficult, resulting in bouts of shame and guilt. But once you have the awareness of what you are holding onto, it can be liberating because you know that you can take control and make positive change.
I had become addicted to my mental health and with an addiction, you see losing it to be painful or that you will lose out on something. My mental illness can give me safety and comfort, routine, stability, boundaries and an outlet. It may provide people with care and connectedness or space to cut off from life. It is different for everyone.
My mental illness gives me positivity and I do not want to throw that away.
This is not your fault. You are not a bad person for realising that you may do these things or have a liking towards your mental health.
Being honest with yourself is humbling and I believe that it is enough to finally push through the change cycle.
Realising that there is part of me that doesn't want to change and who is addicted to my mental health is satisfying because I get to expand on my insight, increase my awareness, alter my perception and be truly able to choose change. The choice of why I want to change finally aligns with my values
If you have been struggling to change a problem in your life, I encourage you to be really honest with yourself and work through the possibilities that I have listed above to see if they may fit with you.
Is there a part of you that would happily stay as you are? If the answer is yes, just accept the thought instead of fighting against it. It is OK to have the thought that you do not want to change, it is then what you do with it that matters!
Do you know what you want from the change?
Are you limiting yourself in what you can achieve? What are you settling for? Instead, dream big- if time, money, knowledge and people didn't limit you, what would your life be like?
Are you attached to your problem? Who would you be without it?
Are you benefiting from your problem? What are you holding on to? Where else can you get that positive feeling?