In any process of change, the thing we have to confront is always ourselves. Whether it’s the monster, the elephant, the ghost, the child, we always have to face and deal with something in ourselves. We have to cut off parts of ourselves, or even whole other selves, in which we have a great deal invested. If change is forced on us by changing circumstances, we have to abandon dear and valued ways of being which have been extremely rewarding for us if they no longer serve us. We have to battle all the forces which are holding us back and calling to us to remain the same.
If we want to change, and find ourselves unable to, or know we need to change but feel stuck in depression or grief or a simple unwillingness to let go of what we have loved, even if we know we cannot otherwise move forward, the answer to the question “Why can’t I change?” is usually “Because I won’t let myself.” Change is hard and scarey and consumes massive amounts of energy and sometimes we need to stand on the edge of lake for a long long time before we can force ourselves to dive into the dark water.
There is a theory, which makes some sense to me, that depression is a means of forcing change upon ourselves when we subconsciously know that things can no longer go on as they are. It’s almost as though, when we’re under regular attack by the monster which is killing the best of us but we’re still too frightened to dive into the dark water, our subconscious rustles up a pack of hell-hounds to force us into the lake.
Before we can change, we need to be ready to change; or at least, no longer ready to go on as we are. To quote Hamlet: “If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come – the readiness is all”. (Shakespeare, also a most excellent guru on all things human nature).