Out With The Old

The question comes down to this, “What now?”
Life changes in front of our eyes. There are problems and breakups, splits, and tough decisions. There is always something around that opens our eyes to the need for change or improvement. But once we are aware, the question is this: What am I supposed to do now?
Simple answers are complicated. Nothing makes sense. We have an uphill climb and work to do. This is why people have spent lifetimes with blinders on. They’ve kept themselves this way because of one intimidating question.  What now?

What comes after the unknown step to move forward? What changes come after the initial change? What then?
What do we do when we are faced with life in uncharted territory? 
These questions are painfully real.
What now?
How does one simply move from one way of living to another? What happens to the levels of comfort? What about the unsureness?
Questions like this can relate to personal relationships. This can be about personal changes or social changes. This can be about work or finding a better job. This can be about living conditions or the need to break away from impending doom and dead-end feelings.

There comes a time when the discomfort outweighs fear. There comes a time when personal pain or anguish outweighs the concern of what comes next. This is when change happens.
In fairness, it would be dishonest to say that change is not intimidating.
The reason why is the very same question. What now?

I stood in a roomful of students that were undergoing a personal struggle. I was brought in to speak about my personal story as well as talk about the personal ability of recovery.
The class was young. I say they were young but they were old enough to experience trauma. They were young but they were old enough to experience depression, They were old enough to understand what it means to be a child of divorce. Some of the students understood what it meant to be bullied or to be abused and hurt.
Of course, they were old enough to experience what it feels like to be rejected and brokenhearted, but yet, they were still young enough to lack the language and the words to express how they felt or explain what was going on. 

I have stood in a room full of adults to discuss these same subjects. They were old enough to have the language and experienced enough to express their thoughts or their concerns. Yet, at the same time, they lacked the ability to explain themselves or talk about their traumas.

The problem with awareness is awareness opens your eyes. This moves us to a position of responsibility. This means we have to act. This means we have to make a decision to either stay and improve or move on and improve while changing our circumstances. 

This is often why denial can be thick because if we notice the problems or if we enter into a level of awareness, then what? If we come to an understanding that changes need to be made, what does this mean?

This means work. This means there is an unknown force; the tyrannical Boogie Man of all Boogie Men and the fear of all fears are up in front and just waiting to greet us. This is why people shy away.
This is why people do not ask for help because help is intimidating. Help requires work. The fear of pain; the fear of lonesomeness or the humbling vulnerability to admit that yes, there is something wrong is intimidating. To admit there is something going on in my life that is beyond my control; to admit that no, I am not perfect and that yes, I have faults and flaws and defects of character is enough to keep people in place and have them stay as they are, which is stuck.

There is no secret that millions of people struggle with anxiety. Yet, most people suffer in silence. Depression is common, yet, we try to hide this as if this is some kind of defect. Meanwhile, this is just a dilemma of chemistry and not our character. People drink themselves to death. People find themselves in the throes of addiction. People sabotage their life or their relationships. Some find themselves unable to get out of bed. Yet, they know there is an underlying demon. They know there is something underneath the layers, but yet, they turn away from this because if they become aware then they have the responsibility of action.
Enter the famous question here. What now?

I have been part of different awareness programs. I was part of educational programs but to what avail? What is the good of awareness if there is no follow up afterwards.
Why enlighten someone if we’re not around to answer the most intimidating questions of all
What now?

The answer to this question is not the same for everyone. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment in life. The answers that fit me best might not be the most helpful for anyone else. However, rest assured, without comforting the concerns and without the right navigation of aftercare or follow-up resources, the “What now” questions can lead to an idea of “Why bother?” and relapse.

Why do we fall backwards into self-harming routines? Why is it we know there are better, healthier ways to live, but yet, we stay as we are and we give in because we go back to the same old “Fix.”

I used to think it was easier to stay as I was. It was easier to eat the easy, quicker meals that come with a satiating relief – even if it was only temporary and I felt worse afterwards, at least there was a minute of euphoria.
I used to believe that this is it. This is all I can be. Therefore, the ideas of me being any different were only wasteful. The truth is, my depression and my fears lead me to an inherent sense of laziness.
Change defies laziness. Action creates change. Change takes energy. And yet, we find ourselves in the fit of excuses. We say things like, “I just don’t have the energy,” which is simply untrue.
Energy is constant. However, energy needs direction. This is where we need to find the spark. We need to find the right motivation that matches our intention, which satisfies the question, “What now?”

Each morning, I come up with my list of “Whys”.

I think about the reasons behind my effort and I feed my direction by looking towards my goals. I have fears, I have simple and irrational intimidations. I have anxiety.
I have days when my chemistry is a hard fight for me to overcome my depression. So, I can do one of two things:
I can either nurture my problems and my concerns or I can nurture my recovery and my solutions.

I don’t say this choice is easy. It was certainly not easy for me in the beginning. But it’s easier now. I’ve learned more. I’ve learned because I’ve given myself the permission to be afraid and still take the next step.

Something I say often is “The old Ben would have handled my problems a different way.”
The new Ben doesn’t respond like that anymore.

So rather than focus on the “What now,” question, which was intimidating to the old you, I ask what would the new you like to do?
What kind of life does the “New you” want to live?
See it. Dream it.
Build it.

Otherwise, life is nothing else but more of the same.
See, the old me believed this was all I would ever understand.
The new me doesn’t live this way anymore.

2 thoughts on “Out With The Old

  1. Coming to the realisation that it is we who must take responsibility and make the change is a big one. I’ve seen myself hover in the brink un fear of such changes and its true you only get the energy when you actually take action rather than sit around waiting on a magical cure

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