As 2017 nears its end, many reflect over the past year, embracing the good times, being thankful that the difficult ones have passed, and considering some necessary changes for 2018.
I have been known to make a resolution or two, as I’m sure have many of you, and most of those either never came to fruition or fizzled out. It wasn’t because my heart wasn’t in it. Maybe it was because I was more comfortable with the way things were that I couldn’t bring myself to commit to the idea of change.
Change can be hard, even painful at times. Change requires a different mindset. You must stop thinking of things the way you always have and start thinking in the way you want to see come about. You must commit to something that hasn’t yet happened but that you have a great desire to bring to fruition.
The definition of “resolution” is as follows: 1) a firm decision to do or not do something; 2) the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.
Hmm — contentious? Definition of contentious: “controversial, heated argument, or likely to cause an argument.”
Ah yes, there it is — my 3-year-old resolution ~ “a firm decision to do something, solving a potentially controversial problem, at times likely to cause an argument”
I didn’t consciously start out to live out this resolution. I just wanted to get better and get my life back on track. But the battles that I had to fight just to get the medical attention that I deserved and the hurdles that I had to overcome to be listened to, fighting for validation against a broken system where Lyme and other tickborne disease are concerned, hurled me into it head first.
Nobody likes to stir up controversy and it’s not an easy position to be in. You have your support system in one corner, and adversaries in another, trying to discredit you and bring you down. But I pushed through all the painful moments, because this resolution was not only important to me, but to my community and Maine’s Lyme community. Somebody had to stand up and say “This is not right,” and I was no longer willing to remain silent or accept the status quo.
So why is it so hard to stick to a resolution? We want a favorable outcome, but sometimes the journey is just too difficult. Sometimes we get halfway there and we are willing to settle. Sometimes life sidetracks us. But all too often we fail because we become complacent. Definition of complacent: “marked by self-satisfaction accompanied by an unawareness of danger or deficiencies.”
So we become comfortable doing what we’ve always done without any awareness of the dangers or deficiencies that lie in wait. For example, failure to keep our commitment to the gym could lead to the onset of health issues. Well, what about practicing medicine without regard to newer evidence-based testing, diagnosing, and treatment protocols? How does that best serve the patient?
But more importantly, why is there such an overwhelming resistance to change, refusing to accept something different from what has always been done, especially in the light that it often no longer works? Therein lies the danger. When you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you always got — and that is not always good.
I recently spoke to a local medical provider who shared with me all the change notifications to medicine that have come about. Back in medical school they were taught one thing, then 20-some odd years later, medical journals spotlighted problematic issues to said training and recommended a different direction that now is being challenged yet again. Why? Because things change. New and improved sciences find those dangers or improvements but if we’re not paying attention or are resistant to change, well, that’s not good either!
Initially, change can be difficult. You must think and act differently. You must push through the discomfort until you reach the new change and it becomes comfortable. But be wary not to become complacent! Whether we like it or not, change is the only thing we can truly count on and change is going to happen — it’s what must happen for things to improve or go away.
I am considering a change, or rather an addition, for 2018 and it is going to require taking a leap of faith, finding balance, harnessing my passion, and staying the course, no matter what difficulties come my way. But knowing that the outcome could change the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, I am willing to commit to this resolution, to give it 100 percent of my focus and energy, because some things are just worth fighting for.
I wish you all a safe and happy new year, and whatever change you wish for the coming new year, may you find the dedication and stamina to see it through. God bless.
(Paula Jackson Jones is the president and co-founder of Midcoast Lyme Disease Support & Education, the Maine partner of the national Lyme Disease Association and member of Maine CDC’s Vector-borne Disease Workgroup. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to mldse.org for more information.)