In her former life, Emily “Gynomite” Gordon was a couples and family therapist licensed in 2 1/2 states. In this life, she’s a freelance fighter of your emotional woes. Write her at email@example.com- all emails stay confidential. You can also check her out on her weekly column over at Lemondrop. Today, Gynomite takes on gaining insight and making changes, or something like that…
I have this friend who is always making sweeping changes in her life (like deciding she wanted to run a marathon and then dropping it), and is always having all these epiphanies about herself that she calls life changing, but nothing ever really changes. She just gets philosophical for a few days and then is back to normal. I don’t know what question I’m asking, but I’m tired of it. I guess…do I have to put up with it or can I tell her she’s being stupid?
Hrmmm, Since you haven’t really asked a question, there’s not a lot for me to answer, but let me pass on some wisdom that I learned in grad school from an awesome professor: insight does not equal behavior change.
Let me repeat that: insight does not equal behavior change.
That means that you can come to a million brilliant and deep revelations about yourself and why you are the way you are, but insight is only the first step to self improvement, not the end result. People tout self awareness as being the end-all be-all, but it’s entirely too easy to get drunk on self knowledge and think it somehow makes you better than other people. But in truth, epiphanies are nearly pointless without the change that they should be inspiring. Just being aware of your flaws and challenges doesn’t make them disappear.
Real change comes not in huge all or nothing events, but rather in small, quiet alterations in your thoughts and behaviors. It comes in daily consistence rather than one big day of change and then trying desperately to keep up.
Your friend may keep dropping out of her marathons and such because the bar is set too high, so she’s destined to fail over and over. If you’re her friend and you are tired of it, perhaps suggest, kindly, that she take small steps to change rather than setting herself up for failure. But that’s up to you. If you don’t want to do that, then you are relegated to being there for her as she needlessly disappoints herself again and again.