It‘s not too late
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Caroline Le Vine
13th February, 20160 Comments
It strikes me often that people say it‘s too late for things to change for them: that they are too old, too ill; that they‘ve missed all the opportunities life will offer them. I feel sad about this. These sentiments suggest that the person expressing them wants things to be different from how they are but feels completely powerless to do anything about it. Hopelessness often follows.
I‘d like to challenge this. It doesn‘t matter how old you are or what chances you feel have passed you by. While there‘s breath in your body, you do have the power to change things. We begin by changing ourselves - our attitudes, the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and about our lives, the feelings we have about ourselves and the world around us. When we change even tiny things within us, the changes flow outwards and others may change too as a result (but that‘s not a given and shouldn‘t be the reason we choose to shift).
A lot of change paradoxically involves acceptance of where we actually are. Maybe we are old, maybe our health is failing, maybe we regret letting youthful opportunity slip away. Clearly, we can‘t change these things but, in accepting the reality of what is, we alter our own perspective. Perhaps we feel less embattled or embittered. We might move our focus away from what we can‘t do and begin to value the things that are still available to us. They might be different from earlier options but does that mean that they are less good?
Finding purpose and power in the here and now can be immensely restorative. Don‘t forget that it is a process, though. It‘s unlikely that you‘ll be able to make these changes overnight. Set yourself up for this and, when it doesn‘t work, you‘ve left yourself in a worse place than when you started. Start by acknowledging where you actually are. Say to yourself, ‘Yes, this is how it is now.‘ Then perhaps experiment with the idea that you could accept what is. Don‘t force yourself; just suggest to yourself that it might be possible. And keep trying it out. Do it often enough and a habit will form. Once you have the idea that acceptance might be possible, you can check out whether there is anything that you could change or whether simply accepting is enough. And if accepting is enough, that‘s a valuable change in itself.
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