“We don’t change until the pain of remaining the same exceeds the pain of change.”
This was one of my sponsor’s favorite quotes and now it’s one of mine, too.
I know that it has held true in my life. And I find the quote comforting on many levels. For one thing, it changed my perspective on pain. That rather than something to be feared and avoided at any cost, pain is natural, and especially for those of us stuck in self-defeating patterns, it is necessary. Sometimes it is the only thing capable of motivating me to do what is necessary to get to something good. To fight for my freedom from my self-destructive habits. In this way pain is often my friend, and a gift.
The quote also comforts me whenever I find myself worried about or obsessing over the well-being of another and feel the urge to control outcomes. When I remember the essential role that pain—the pain of remaining the same—played in my recovery, I find it easier to “Let go and let God” and give that person or situation over to the hands of their own loving higher power, which is not me.
Instead, I can choose to self-soothe. From this calm place, I can recognize that I don’t know what is the true higher good in this situation. I can simply breathe as things unfold as they are meant to. I can trust that I and we will get what we need, even if it’s not what we want, or exactly when.
Finally, over the years in CoDA I have achieved a measure of self-love and appropriate self-esteem. I am able to have some appreciation of who I am today: my perspective, my experience. And I see the connection between this person for whom I have some healthy respect and the painful experiences that were part of what shaped her. So how can I say, “Those things shouldn’t have happened” or “I wish things had been different” without this also meaning I shouldn’t be who I am? Through CoDA, I am letting go of my need to have had a different past. I am embracing and accepting myself, which means accepting the pain, and even being grateful for it all.