The Agent of Your Own Change

It’s so common it almost seems like a stereotype in the Paleo community.

Someone posts on Twitter or Facebook or where ever that the biggest obstacle to their beginning or continued success is their spouse, live-in mate, or co-habitant.  If only they’d go Paleo they argue, it wouldn’t such a burden on me.  Having all their food in the house is just too much of a temptation they lament.  If they really loved me they’d understand and try to support me.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news today but that attitude is going to get you to one of two places.  You’re either going to end up resenting that person so much it seems almost unbearable or you’re going to fall into your old habits and find yourself at the bottom of a bag of potato chips.  And the worse part?  The other person isn’t even aware of your intentions, let alone the mental anguish you might be feeling.

All of this, I think, falls back into two common fallacies we often associate with romance and Western culture.

The first is the notion that we can change someone.

Do you really think you can change someone?  Do you really think you turn around a lifetime of habits and thoughts in two days through the sheer force of your own nagging and passive aggressiveness?  Of course you can’t.  It is the sheerest of follies to believe otherwise.  People change because they want to change.  Because they see something in themselves they don’t like and want to eliminate from their lives.  The best we can be is the light that shines on that change, that points it out them in sharper focus.  Does your spouse eat a bagel with cream cheese and three doughnuts for breakfast?  Just eat your breakfast without any condescension or meanness.  Field their questions if they have any.  But most of all, be understanding if they don’t want to change with you.

Which leads me to the second idea.

We often have the romantic notion of dedicating our change to someone else.  That somehow making someone else the centre of our endeavour will give us the strength and ability to see it through.

It’s a nice idea to believe but it won’t get you any where either.  You may tell yourself that you’re a fat slob who sits around all day, eats, and watches football.  You may also tell yourself that you’re happy with that but you want to change for your spouse.  I deluded myself for years with this idea while I happily puffed my way through half a pack of cigarettes a day.  The simple fact is that you will never do anything for someone else.  You’ll take out the trash because your wife asks.  You’ll clean up the garage because your husband is away on a business trip.  You’ll even make your kids favourite dessert when you don’t want it.  You won’t, however, ever make an effective and deeply psychological change in your life for someone else.  I’m sorry, I know that’s harsh but it’s the truth.  You do something for yourself or you won’t do it at all.

All of this then to state this one thing.  There is no external force in the universe that can make you change or that is inhibiting it.  You are the agent of your own change.  You need to press forward when that voice in your head says stop.  You need to understand that the only person stopping you is you.  Personal ownership is the name of the game and if you’re not willing to take it, the game is already lost.


One thought on “The Agent of Your Own Change

  1. I absolutely love your last line. It is so true that it should be up on billboards. Anyone who has turned their life around in any aspect will completely understand this article. It takes so much work and mental gymnastics and sacrifice and energy that it is truly not possible to do for anyone other than yourself.

    It is hard to do a “fringe” type diet with your spouse not on board…..but it’s not impossible. You just have to want it more than you want anything else.

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