Humans are so strange. We continue to make the same mistakes long after we know they are mistakes. In fact, the only reason we ever change course is if continuing hurts more than changing.
Usually changing course hurts a lot. The unemployed person who fears many things might keep hiding from job applications as long as they are shielded by others. Yes, it hurts to live as they do. But it hurts less than confronting their fears. But you’ve probably heard of people hitting rock bottom and then soaring to incredible heights. They couldn’t do that until rock bottom hurt more than changing course.
So my question to you is simple: Does it hurt enough yet? You’ve been making the same mistake for a long time. You’ve known what it is that you should do. But I guess your mistakes don’t hurt that much. Hiding from the truth doesn’t hurt that much. Knowing you’re living less than your potential doesn’t hurt that much.
Okay, go ahead. Keep making that mistake. Keep stress eating. Keep working at the job you hate. Keep being a part of that toxic relationship. I’ll enable you. I’ll tell you I’m sorry that it hurts so much. I’ll tell you that your pain and fears are justified and anyone would feel the same in your position. There. Now go and touch the stove again. Burn yourself a little worse. Now does it hurt enough to change? Does the stove look scarier than trying to heal? No? Put your whole face on the stove coils this time. Press yourself onto it. Stay for seconds, minutes, I don’t care. Stay until it hurts enough that you want a better life. Stay until you realize this is not what you want. Because right now you’re hiding. Right now you’re saying that the right decisions hurt more. You say finding a good therapist is too hard. You say that the exercise, the uncomfortable conversations, the change in lifestyle, all that is too painful. You’re saying that you can’t hurt other people’s feelings by cutting them out. You’re saying it would hurt too much to do the right thing. And I’m so freaking tired of your excuses.
Shut up and keep making the same stupid mistake. Keep hurting yourself until you get sick of it. The only way you’ll start making good decisions is if it hurts less than what you’re doing now. It’s just how humans are, you no more defective than the rest of us. But I really do want you to do something better. I really do want you to realize that other options do hurt less than what you’re doing now. So do whatever you need to so you can realize that. I’m not trying to be a dick. I just want you to do what’s best for you, and I don’t think you realize how much pain you’re actually in. I think your face has already been on the burner so long that you’re numb. You’ve been making this mistake so long you’re actually telling me “If I take my face off this burner it will rip off some skin, it’s better if I stay down here even though it hurts. I can’t heal but it’s okay, this is where I want to be.” Don’t scoff either. Until you change your actions, you are saying this is where you want to be. Don’t make excuses. Don’t try to convince me. You are complacent in your situation as long as you refuse to take steps and change it.
Like I said, you’re not the only one. I have no idea who you are. This letter is mostly to myself. I have made the same mistakes so many times. I guess it doesn’t hurt enough yet, even though it hurts more than I can express. I’m still making these mistakes. My face is still on the stove too. I don’t want this anymore, but I keep doing it. I say I hate this but I haven’t changed yet. I blame so many people in my life, but my actions haven’t changed. I say a lot of things, but I can smell my face burning. For all my complaining, I’m still here, right next to you.
This is going to take time, but I’m pulling away from the burner today. The skin is ripping but it will heal. It hurts now but it won’t forever. What about you? You tell me – does it hurt enough yet?
Further reading: If this post resonated with you then I think you’d get a lot out of Letting Go of Shame by Patricia and Ronald Potter-Efron. It is a self-guided therapy workbook that helps you see the different actions you take motivated by shame, as well as the coping mechanisms you don’t realize you’re misusing. I’m still working on breaking old habits, but this book has done a lot to help me see all that just isn’t working anymore.
Disclaimer: The stove is a metaphor, and I in no way condone self harm or any self destructive actions. The habits you already have might be hurting you more than you realize, and I’m just asking you to decide if they are really what you want.