The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on April 21, 2011.

The forecast we had for snow last week – followed by the layer of snow that we actually received – left many of us frustrated and annoyed, and saying things like, “What? Again?!” Enough, already!” “I thought we were finally through with this!”

By the middle of April, most of us had finally said goodbye to winter, and were welcoming Spring with open arms. We enjoyed watching signs up the season popping up in our yards and gardens, and were thrilled to be getting a taste of warm, sunny weather at last.

And then we got dumped on.

The amount of snow we got was hardly worth mentioning, and it didn’t last long. But it did a number on us anyway.

Whenever we finally get beyond something – when we think it’s really gone and we won’t have to put up with it anymore – and then it comes back to haunt us or taunt us some more, it can sometimes take a toll on us psychologically that’s out of proportion to the actual incident.

I was thinking about that with our snow forecast and our snowfall last week, but in relation to other things as well. Habits that we want to break, attitudes that we want to adjust, or actions and activities that we want to change. Sometimes we’ll get to the point where we’ve made real progress and we think we’ve got the problem licked, and then something happens that makes us feel like we’re back at square one, and we have to start all over again.

That’s usually not the case, however. Last week we were able to console ourselves with the knowledge that even though it may be snowing again, it can’t last long. We aren’t used to seeing snow in the middle of April – and would just as soon not, thank you very much – but we take comfort in knowing that it’s a fluke, that it’s temporary, and that if we just ride it out we’ll be very fine, very soon.

We should have that same attitude whenever we slip up or backslide with a change we are trying to make in ourselves. Unlike the weather, which is going to do what it will no matter how we feel about it, our attitudes, actions, and results are very much related to each other. We can undermine and sabotage our own efforts and the progress we’ve made by throwing up our hands in exasperation and surrender, saying, “I give up. This is never going to end.” Or we can remind ourselves how far we’ve come, how much we’ve done, and that this is just a temporary relapse or setback. If we just ride it out, we’ll be fine.

Whether it’s breaking a bad habit, acquiring a new, good one, or changing a behavior or belief, it takes time to make a lasting change. And it can take even longer for all remnants of our old beliefs, behaviors, and default settings to go away, if they ever do. The important thing to remember is that the longer we keep at it, the more successful we’ll be.
And the less we’ll be affected or damaged by any slipups, backslides, or spring snowfalls that we have to deal with from time to time along the way.

© Betty Liedtke, 2011