With Defne Dinler
When we decide we want change, we often want our environment to change so we can be the “new us”. This is a fantasy that is tough to challenge and painful to be challenged by. This idea looks at the world as the evil doer, authority that needs to change so we can come out of our victimized old selves and be free. However, true change comes from inside.
I know most of us understand this concept mentally. When challenged to actually own the change we want and being the change internally, most of us go into a victim place. This can look like a raging temper tantrum of “you don’t know what my life is like! I can’t change anything!” to many other versions of “it’s not possible and you’re the bad guy for suggesting it.” Or it can literally come with cancellations of therapy sessions etc. so we don’t have to go to where true change can happen.
I think we all do it. I know I’ve done it and probably still do it when I meet a new edge for change. I have clients that will talk about anything but the one topic where their biggest longing for change resides. They’re willing to take chances and change other parts of their lives, which is wonderful. But, when it comes to where there is potential for big change, they may not yet feel ready, not trust themselves or our relationship enough yet to go there. After a while, when they do bring up the dreaded topic, whether it’s about their relationship, or sex, or showing up in the world with the career they long to show up in… etc., the change I get to witness is a most humbling and inspiring one.
Where do you feel like a captive of your world? is it that you cannot quit your job? your relationship? your way of being with your parents? Your health? Where does it feel like you have no power? Where do you feel like you can change everything else about your life, but this one thing and you’re stuck with it?
You may not be able to change that outside factor because, let’s face it, if we could save people from themselves the world would be a very different place. We can’t help someone who does not want to be helped. Same goes for change. What you can do is 1) change your way of being with that outside factor, 2) find your boundaries for your self-care.
What can this look like?
It looks different for every person, so what truly matters is what it looks like for you. For example, if you keep getting guilt-tripped into doing things for a specific person or people that triggers resentment and hatred, pause for a moment and find your boundary. When are you okay with doing things for this person or these people? When are you not? Set the boundary, let them know that you are not okay with being guilt-tripped and that it makes you feel resentful and that you will not help or do what they need in the future. You can always create a system where if people are needing things from you, you can let them know what you are willing to do and when. You can explore and try different boundaries out. Nothing has to be permanent. You might have offered too many things you can do. You can shorten the list after finding it doesn’t work for you or you can tell them, I decide when and what . . . etc. This way, as you take care of you, you don’t have to stew in resentment and hatred of people, situations, and life. You get to change how you feel about what you are doing.
One of the most painful captivity stories I hear tends to be from divorced or separated parents. The idea of communication without self-sacrifice so the other does not make their life hell often sounds like an impossible world. This is where I hear some of the most painful stories. In some cases, there is also physical safety involved. If that is the case, please don’t do this alone. Reach out, find ways to protect yourself not the ex-partner. By deciding everything has to stay the same, you have just imprisoned yourself in this world of captivity. Captivity is prison; there is no freedom. If you are wanting to truly find yourself and show up in the world, you need to challenge yourself where you’ve made yourself a captive of your world.
We often feel a captive of our depression or anxiety or comfort habits (drugs, alcohol, food). How does “being the captive” of your world serve you? What do you get out of doing? change? ownership? responsibility? courage? What’s too much that you’d rather stay a captive? If you can be honest about that with yourself, there isn’t anything you can’t do to change your life.
Change is not easy. It’s simple but not easy. We challenge our own identity through every step. Reach out and find people who can support you through it. Doing it all alone might be another repeating captive story. Notice what’s more comfortable. And is that comfort supporting you with change or enabling you to stay where you are? Everything starts with your honesty with yourself. If you can slow down your mind enough to notice yourself and be blatantly honest with yourself, not only can you be free every second of your life, your world can change with you every second as well.
If you’re not rigidly defining yourself in a box, your world does not have to be stuck in a box either. There is so much opportunity for you to enjoy each breath in life. You’re the authority on where you are in your world: are you a captive or thriving with the flow of life?
Defne Dinler, LPC is a body psychotherapist who uses action-oriented therapeutic modalities that lead to a deeper understanding and achievement of goals and growth for teens and adults. She specializes in anxiety, trauma and relationship counseling. She has a private practice in Denver, CO, and sees clients worldwide.
Photo 1 from Pixabay
Photo 2 by Rostyslav Savchyn on Unsplash
Photo by 3 by Slava Bowman on Unsplash