It’s fall here in Boulder, Colorado and the trees are glorious. The brilliant red of the maples and blinding gold of the aspens look like dancing butterflies in the breeze. I know this happens every year, but this year there was a massive flood in our town, which makes me more aware of just how amazing nature is and the sheer power of water – to both create such beauty and destroy homes in no time.
One of the first questions I am almost always asked when I sit down to work with a new client interested in changing her relationship with food is, “how long will this process take?” I smile, because the question makes so much sense.
Culturally, there is so much emphasis on overnight success stories and quick transformations. We’ve all heard them: “How I dropped 2 sizes in just 2 weeks!” or “How I built a 6-figure business in 5 months!” And even though we might know they are sensational headlines, it’s still kind of appealing.
Beyond the cultural preference for “fast,” sometimes the question of “how long will this take” is another way to say “I have been struggling and in pain around my body for so long.” The decision to get support and help is a big one. Of course we want out of the pain and into a new experience.
We know that changing a pattern that has been going on for years, sometimes decades, doesn’t shift in two months. But – when?
I get it – once a decision to change has happened, clients want to see progress and can quickly feel impatient with the process. For those who are brave enough to begin shifting away from the number on the scale as a measurement of change, there can be even more impatience to see change in a concrete way.
As human beings, we like results. We like quick results. We like visible results.
As I’m driving home, both sides of my street are lined with rows of English Oak trees. I pay attention to the patterns of these trees, because they are different from all the others. While the other trees are turning colors, these trees seem to stay green…..until you get up close and investigate. If you pull back the limbs, you see that the leaves are turning red from the inside of the tree first. You can’t see the change right away – the transformation is happening inside and that change only becomes visible when it’s almost complete.
You see where I’m going with this.
The other thing about these English Oaks is that in the winter when the leaves die, they stay on the tree. All of the other trees are bare, but with these trees, the leaves don’t fall until the new growth is ready to come in.
I know the same is true for people. If we are looking only at the outward signs, looking at the leaves, we might not see any evidence that change is happening. Like the trees, the real change is happening close to the core — deeply inside — and only later in the process will it become visible. I also know that sometimes things don’t fall away until something else is ready to replace it. And that process is often slow and steady and takes place behind the scenes.
What change are you looking for in your own life? How would it feel differently if you believed that the change was already happening?