I recently caught the last few minutes of a workout reality tv show. The program was showing people who previously had not exercised complete a half marathon. It was so emotional and moving. The participants did not really understand the changes that their bodies had gone through to get them to that point. At the very end of the program everyone weighed in, and many of the contestants had lost fat and gained muscle, but when they did a body mass index and showed the dramatic changes everyone was brought to tears. Usually, genuine change occurs slowly and over a large amount of time. It happens intentionally but subtly. When you notice a problem, it’s big and messy and you want it to go away. When you decide to fix a problem, the change is slow and gradual and sometimes the little victories are hard to spot. It’s the before and after that remind you that something has changed, because even through change there are messy and difficult times.
Real change is not becoming someone different; it’s having a different response to things than you previously would have had. It’s taking positive feedback and running with it. It’s building skills to handle challenges, not to ignore them. I have undergone several changes in my adult life: from weight loss, to intentional attitude and life changes. It wasn’t until I compared my reactions in different situations that I realized how far I had come. When I think of what my reaction would be in a moment of panic or stress, it is much different than my response from 5 years ago.
When I see before and after pictures of women who have had life changing transformations, I see the dramatic changes. However, the every day decisions that got them there are invisible. I just see the physical affects; the health changes, the smiles, the visible physical changes. But the dramatic change does not happen instantly. True change is from months and sometimes years of hard work. Emotional transformations also come into play at such a rate. Sometimes it’s a breakthrough that stops a trigger, or a memory that no longer bothers you. What truly lies behind these milestones is hard work that happens step by step time after time. The daily determination to wake up, take care of your needs, read books, go to meetings or classes, and take the advice of professionals is what recovery and true change looks like. This is real change, the steps that bring you to recovery and the decision to dedicate yourself to recovery and healing everyday. Whether you are making changes in your life your self, or are looking to take a step to seeking help in your recovery, remember that every small victory leads towards real change.