How to Change Your Mind
August 23, 2016 ~ Demetra Szatkowski
The idea for this struck me this morning. I was thinking about how people get stuck, how people are so unhappy with certain aspects of their lives but are unwilling to change. I was thinking about how my life has been so emotionally up and down lately but how I still feel really truly happy about every decision that I've made. And I thought maybe I should write something along the lines of "why you should change your mind."
And then a voice popped in my head: "Demetra, people don't know how."
I've seen it over and over and over again. I used to lead full moon circles, where women would come and share their innermost thoughts - what they were going through, what they were scared of, what they didn't like in their lives. And they were full, so full, of this: "I want to have this, but I can't."
To me it has always been such an obvious thing. If you don't like something, either change it, or leave. It has hurt people, it has torn my life down around me, it has made my world a mess. But it has also made me really happy.
First step: Know that you are actually allowed to change your mind.
No matter how successful you are, no matter how great your company is, how wonderful your college is, how incredible everyone thinks your life is. You are allowed to change it if you want to. It's yours. The consequences will be yours, too, but the ability to live your own life the way you want is yours and only yours. That also means that if you're unhappy, it's your responsibility to change that.
Second step: Come up with some idea of what you want instead.
This doesn't have to be a detailed, fully planned out map. But if you are unsatisfied with something, you at least know some things you don't want. Start from there.
I played soccer my entire life. I was really good. My parents drove me 2 hours each way to practices and games 4 times a week for almost all of high school. I wanted to go to a D1 school and play soccer on an amazing team. And then I went to a camp, and I decided I didn't actually like it. That that wasn't how I wanted my college experience to be. So I said no, I don't want to do that, now. I want college to be more social, I don't want to be forced to go to practice, I want to meet artsy people, I want to read. My parents did. not. like this. And there was a lot of crying and arguing and I came up with a list of schools *I* thought I would be happy at instead. Some of them, I was wrong about. And that was a good thing.
I opened a business. I was ecstatically happy. Everyone was so happy for me. The yoga community was growing in our area, people loved coming, I was learning how to manage a studio. But 6 months in, I decided I was still unsatisfied. I didn't like the partnership. I didn't like the responsibility. I didn't want to teach, anymore. I didn't feel happy. So what did make me happy? I wasn't really sure. All I knew was, "not this." I knew I liked traveling, I knew I didn't want to go back to school yet. So I decided I would leave and travel. Nobody liked that plan (besides some very supportive friends.) Again, people yelled at me. But I did it anyway, and went through the process of leaving, and new things fell into the mix, and I found a new idea of what I wanted to do instead.
I have done this process in every area of my life, multiple times. Relationships. Schools. Jobs. Traveling. And it always follows the same pattern. If you haven't figured it out yet, it looks like this:
Decide you're unhappy. Admit you're unhappy, you're unsatisfied. You are allowed to want more, because you deserve more.
Find literally anything that you think would make you happy. Maybe even think back to things you've done before. A certain country? A different job? Time to focus on things you actually want to learn? Volunteering?
Maybe it's not that concrete. Maybe you're leaving a person. Okay, so you know why that person didn't work for you. What do you want instead? What would your ideal, ideal relationship look like instead? Maybe it's being single. Commit to that. Don't compromise.
Change your mind. Do it. It will be scary, because you won't know what's going to happen. Watch what does happen - some people will freak out, some people will be angry, some people will express hurt feelings. Listen, but don't compromise. There are a lot of things we have to compromise on; your personal life choices aren't one of them. There will also be people that are supportive through every crazy terrible wonderful idea you have. Hang on to them.
Accept that your life is going to be uncertain for a little while. You have to mess up in order to know what you want. You have to date the wrong people and go to the wrong schools and be friends with the wrong group and do all of the wrong things for you in order to discover what is right. So it doesn't matter if this next decision is also wrong. What matters is that you are not static. You are moving, continuing to grow and change. You are finding out what you want and what is the best way for you to be you.
Maybe this happens at 18. Maybe it happens at 65. It doesn't matter when it happens (although I think the longer you wait, the harder it becomes.)
There are always going to be things that make it harder. Maybe you have children, maybe you're struggling financially, maybe whatever else. But you know what? There are other people who have had the same struggles as you and they still managed to make their lives better. I know, because I've met them, all over the world. Maybe there will always be things holding you back in some way from your ideal life. But that doesn't mean the rest of it can't be amazing.
The world is full of so many incredible people and places and things. You don't deserve to be in a marriage that is just okay, in a job that's not too terrible, in a place that's just fine. You deserve so much more than that. And it exists, and it's waiting for you.
The only difference between you and the people that do it is that the people who have done it have taken action. The ONLY secret is that you actually have to move, and fail a lot of times, and go find it. That's all.