Agony is optional: how to stop resisting change

I spend a lot of time with folks who see their lives as endlessly confusing and overwhelming. I offer them the Keep It Simple System (K.I.S.S.). It’s long been the most sensible approach I’ve found to living and it has infinite applications.

My favorite K.I.S.S. strategy is to take whatever I’m unhappy/distressed/F’ed up about and consider: can I change it, or am I powerless to change it?

If I’m powerless, I get to turn it over to my Higher Power. There’s a recovery expression that cautions me: “You know what happens if you turn it over and turn it over but don’t let go? You end up upside down and inside out.”

For years I struggled to have any faith at all in a HP. Then I further struggled with the idea that S/he could be relied upon to handle the stuff I can’t. I resolved this with what K.I.S.S. refers to as the “nothing to lose” approach:

Whether or not I trust my HP to take care of it; I still can’t do a damned thing about it = nothing to lose. I tried it a few hundred times and it worked out well every time. I almost trust it these days.

Now, if it turns out that I can change what I’m unhappy/distressed/F’ed up about, the K.I.S.S. system reminds me that there’s a whole lot of bullshit that I tend to put myself through before I accept and embrace change:

  • Agonize: dread, embrace strife, tie myself in knots
  • Avoid: procrastinate, intellectualize, analyze, distract
  • Get stuck in how it should be: Rail against, fight with myself, be righteously angry

Resistance to change is always based in fear, which can be darkly amusing because if you’re anything like me, you catch yourself being F’ed up about changes that are natural, inevitable, and even positive.

So, this is the part where we overthink it. We wrestle with self-doubt and absolve ourselves of responsibility by saying: “I don’t know what to do!”

This is almost always a lie, albeit a very sweet sounding and plausible one.

See, when you don’t know what to do; you don’t have to do anything! Knowing is hard because it leaves us with the responsibility of taking action (perhaps the toughest part of “adulting”).

I have found that in the absence of accountability, what I’m going to do is very little and what I’m going to change is nothing. When I stay in the company of good people and share both my goals and my fears; I get to do a lot of things that bring meaning and fulfillment to my life.

In the absence of change, I have complacency. If you’re anything like me, you can’t afford that. Status quo gets dull, which leads to boredom and taking a good life for granted. F that. I’m not done changing ‘til I stop breathing. The only thing that’s up for grabs is whether I receive the grace my HP provides to make the next change or whether I resist.

Agony is optional. Let go or be dragged.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.