Today’s Star columnist: Dr Mary Wren

Dr Mary Wren has worked in Sheffield for 20 years. She offers advice on health issues every Saturday.
Dr Mary Wren has worked in Sheffield for 20 years. She offers advice on health issues every Saturday.

Change isn’t easy. I have seen an interesting selection of patients this week-with a huge array of different problems.

Often they come and tell me in detail all the difficulties they have and how awful they feel. I sometimes feel like they want me to sort their lives out for them and give them a tablet to make them feel happy again.

We both know deep down though that this isn’t the answer, and so I usually get to the point where I ask them what they want to change.

I can only help them to change in the areas where they genuinely want to do it themselves.

Sometimes it is is a surprise to them that I would ask them that question. Sometimes they become defensive or angry or hopeless, saying “I can’t change anything.”

But you know it’s true for all of us that often the only thing we can change is ourselves and we have more choices than we realise. I can’t change how another person speaks to me but I can choose how I let what they say affect me and how I respond to it. I can’t always change my environment at home and work but I can change how I see that environment and whether I let it crush me or whether I rise above it.

Sometimes I have to make a choice whether to stay as I am or choose a radical alternative – give up my job, downscale the house, go and work voluntarily abroad, take a new career option, do a college course, search my heart to see what is really going on in there.

We have more choices than we think we have, but sometimes they are hard, painful and at a cost. Someone like Nelson Mandela is an amazing example of how choice affected outcome. I can choose to feel sorry for myself as a victim, or I can choose to react differently, forgive and overcome.

Often it is easier to just stay as we are because it is safe and we know how it works, even if we are dying inside as a result. It’s hard work to make a change, to take responsibility for what we can change and to let go of what we can’t.

Most people who really live their lives and are fulfilled have had tough times, but they have chosen to want to change, to rise above, to give something up. Change isn’t easy.