“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
How beautiful is that thought? And how very appropriate for the counseling field on some many levels. As a counselor, I hope to guide others as they explore thoughts, feelings, and the idea of change. As a parent, I hope to set an example to my children for what it means to treat others respectfully, enjoy life, and make good choices. As a person, I hope strive to be better than I was the day before, value others, appreciate everyone for their intrinsically good qualities, and lead by example.
Think on all the changes that a person goes through organically in life: growing from infant to toddler to teen to adult. Other changes such as graduation, engagement, marriage, divorce, having children, or losing loved ones tend to also be a part of life for most. Think on all the changes you have gone through as a person since day one. Think of changes that just happened, that took some initiative, that were simple, and that were difficult.
Readiness to change is a essential component in the counseling process. Before you can explore behaviors, thought patterns, or faulty coping skills that need modification you must decide for yourself that you are ready and want to begin to change…even if you have no clue how. If you are ready and willing to put in the effort, then there is a way. That being said, sometimes the journey of change leads you down a different path from where you began, so be prepared for change to actually CHANGE you. I’ll let that sink in…
Another crucial point on change…You CANNOT change OTHER people. Mind blowing, right? Unless someone is willing to change, then all the advice, suggestion, and persuasion in the world isn’t moving them an inch. I’m sure we can all think of a time when we wished a friend, loved one, or significant other would see the light, quit making the same mistakes, or change things they were doing or saying. I can make you a list. But until that person is ready, YOU have the choice to be supportive or not.
According to Webster’s, change implies making either an essential difference often amounting to a loss of original identity or a substitution of one thing for another. Change is tricky. Sometimes we wish for change or think we would enjoy life more if XYZ were different, but in reality, change is hard and change is exactly that….different than what the ways things currently are. So, going back to Gandhi’s wisdom on change, how can you change to lead by example? What change is it that you are seeking in your own life or wishing to lead in changing your environment? If you’re having trouble with change talk or thoughts, I’d love to listen.