How many of us are hanging on in an area where we would like to make a change, but we get stuck, settling for “it’s good enough”?

A client began our conversation today talking about the same topic she has brought into the last four conversations – how dissatisfied she is with her healthcare provider.

changeCapture“I know I should make a change, but it’s so much work,” she told me.

I pointed out that she had already done a lot of research, she had gotten new referrals, and had the phone numbers at hand.

“I just can’t make the calls,” she admitted, “it feels like too big a step to change – what if I don’t like the next person? In fact, what if they’re worse? How could I change again – or go back to where I was? What if the parking is a mess or the drive isn’t possible?”

It is a familiar story isn’t it? We want to believe we could move to a more accessible doctor, or find a nutritionist or physical therapist (or place to live) that will work better for us, and even when we’ve done a lot of the work to make a change, something keeps us where we are.  We find we believe that what we know has to be better than the unknown.

Or, at least part of us believes that. The part of us that is risk averse, and wants to protect us from more pain or loss or disappointment, always seems to vote for staying where we are now, and not moving into the (unknown) new.

My client reminded me that she was comfortable with her life as-it-is – a relationship with her physician where she knows what to expect. Medication that isn’t always great, but holds few surprises.

I suggested that maybe it was less about comfort than being habituated. She wasn’t really comfortable, because she was actively trying to find something else. She was spending her time with me recounting how her situation didn’t work. But, she was used to it.

We developed a process to help her move ahead. If you are finding yourself in a similar quandary, maybe it will help you too.

  1. Look at how far you’ve come. It can be easy to forget or not notice all the steps you have already taken to move yourself towards the place you want to go – whether it is trying a new medical office, or pain reliever, or even getting some different friends. The thinking, imagining, and then planning or researching –  all your work that has gotten you to this next stage!
  2. Identify the next smallest step you can take. For my client, it was a phone call to schedule an appointment. It may be a visit to the person, or another conversation with someone who has done what you are dreaming. We can overwhelm ourselves with what “might happen” and the protective side of our being who gets scared can magnify the “what ifs” – but a small step is doable, and less overwhelming, and gets you into action.
  3. Enlist some help. Ask someone – a friend, family member, counselor, online buddy, to give you some support. Don’t underestimate how challenging it can be to help yourself get closer to what you want. There is a lot stacked against that – in our brains, in our lives, in negative messages we are always picking up. Someone who can cheer for your steps as well as your goal will give you the boost you may need to to do what’s good for you!

If you have a change you’ve been wanting to make, but find yourself stuck, have some compassion on yourself. It is not easy to do – and it is natural to feel self protective. But, some small jump starts may help you move towards something new, that may very well improve your life.  Let me know how that goes!

I often feel that I want to make a change in my treatment plan and/or treatment team but find myself stuck?