art by Soosh

What a short time we have to enjoy and know the self. For it won’t be too long till you are asked to redefine who you want to be or rethink who you are. This request may come from family, home, friendships, romantic relationships, a trip to the grocery store, an encounter with an old friend, work; from a place of lack or a place of abundance. Irrespective of where it comes from, we are never ourselves for too long. Our tastes change, the things we expect from ourselves and others change, our desires change, our motivations change. We change. Change is growth but growth is not always stepping up or becoming more. Sometimes, it is seeing our weaknesses, becoming less of something, stepping back from what we thought was good for us, forgiveness of self and others, creation, supporting others, believing in ourselves or responding differently to the same situation.

It is sad that sometimes we stop ourselves from experiencing the peace and blessings that comes with changing because we are too scared to allow ourselves to let go of who we used to be and become someone new or we are trying to control the process of shedding and the outcome. We say to ourselves: ‘I cannot do it’, ‘How can I be this and that at the same time?’, ‘I have been this person for too long, how can I be anything else?’, ‘Who will I become without …?’ ‘I am too old to change’ ‘There is no point changing’, ‘ I do not need to change’

When we get to this place as we so often will whether it is brought about by an event of success or failure, we should learn to be gentle with ourselves lest we lose ourselves, inflate our egos or diminish our importance and that of our work. Our inner moral compass — our personal values must become our most cherished companions when making decisions during these times because they will help us to see the right path to follow to know what we need to become.

In this process of change, it helps to understand that power lies in the words we say to ourselves. If we want to change the way we feel and think of ourselves, we should change the words we say to ourselves. But that is where it gets tricky: figuring out what words to use to begin the process of allowing ourselves to change.

Here are a few steps and words to guide you as you try:

  • Create for yourself a moment of silence where you can connect with yourself honestly and truly, a moment when you neither lie to, hide from nor deny yourself.
  • Begin a conversation with yourself remembering to be soft with your self-talk as you think through your thoughts to your truth about why you find it difficult to allow yourself to change.
  • Do not run from the feeling when you find it. Sit with it. Cry. Feel it. Scream. Let it out.
  • Acknowledge your humanity and vulnerability. It is okay to feel.
  • At this moment, reluctance may set in bringing forth “valid” reasons why you need to hold on to what you must release. It is at this moment that one must be courageous.

Say to yourself and give yourself a chance to believe it:

‘I have the energy to let go of what no longer serves me.’

‘I am allowed to be…’ (insert what you want to become here and add as many as you want)

‘I am allowed to be who I am and there is enough space for me to be me. There is space for me to do what makes me happy. There is enough space for me to be whatever makes me happy.’

‘I have space to be.’

  • Allow yourself to feel that truth and repeat these words as many times as you want to. Speak to yourself the healing words that may come inspired from your intuition. That is your spirit.
  • Release what you no longer need, what no longer serves you. Cry if you must. Scream but let it go. Free yourself.
  • Sit with your peace and breathe deeply.

You must now back this mental change up with physical change. This means that you begin to embody the characteristics of your change wisely in your own way.

You begin to be.

Recommendation: Try this while doing yoga before bed.

musings of a psychotherapist living and working in Lagos, Nigeria.