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Anyone Can Change If They Take It One Step at a Time

First Step

“Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.” ~Alan Watts

I used to be an insecure girl obsessed with her weight, stepping on the scales about twenty times a day.

I used to be a bulimic teenager struggling with depression and a way too controlling father, whom I never told, “I love you, Dad.”

I used to be a lonely woman who always fell for the wrong men because she had not yet learned that she deserved better.

I used to be co-dependent, fighting for everyone but myself.

I used to be a bacteriophobe—I was so afraid of germs and dirt that I refused to stay in hotels because I could not stand the thought of having to lie in a bed that hundreds of other people had already slept in.

This is the way I used to be. And I thought I would be like that for as long as I live.

But when I was about to make the biggest mistake of my life and marry a guy who wanted to turn me into a Stepford Wife, I discovered what I was not: I was not afraid to change!

This is how my journey began, and it continued one step at a time.

I left my fiancé, although everybody thought I had gone crazy. But how could I have stayed with someone who only loved the idea of the girl he thought I could be?

Fighting the silence of my new place, I forced myself to join a yoga group. And through yoga, I learned something else about myself: I am strong.

Meditation taught me that silence does not equal loneliness. Silence equals inner peace. And inner peace equals strength.

I was ready to take the next step and, slowly but surely, I broke old behavior patterns.

I learned that if you want your future to be brighter than your past, you must start acting differently. Today.

Relationships suffered, but I decided to no longer surround myself with people who I knew would nourish my codependency.

I also learned another very important lesson: I need to put myself first when it comes to love.

Because only when you love yourself someone else can truly love you, too.

This is how I found my soul mate. And although we both are not perfect, we could not be more perfect for each other.

I moved to another country and finally understood that I was “uncontrollable,” no matter how hard people tried to tell me what to do.

Space taught me about freedom: the freedom to listen to my feelings, and the freedom to trust myself.

Once I understood that I could trust myself, I realized I could accept myself, too.

At this point, I was finally able to let go of my neuroses and cope with the emotions that had been feeding my eating disorder.

All my life I had been troubled by yesterday’s “what ifs” and worried about tomorrow’s “maybes.”

But when you are no longer haunted by your past nor concerned about your future, you are ready to see what’s beautiful today.

And beauty is all around you!

Now a holistic nutritionist and mindfulness coach, I know I have come a long way.

I teach my children to love themselves as much as I love them, and every day they tell me they love me, too.

I’ve also healed my relationship with my father. He is the one person I turn to whenever I get stuck in life and need someone to help me get back on track again.

He died on September 29, 2008. He was in a coma when I came to see him and I did not have a chance to say goodbye. I wasn’t there when he died; I only heard him take his last breath through the phone. But, Dad, wherever you are out there: I love you! I really do.

I am by no means flawless, but through my journey I have realized that anyone can change if they take it one step at a time.

You just have to try and put yourself out there, even though it means you need to leave your comfort zone.

Because we all deserve to be happy! And it is never—never—too late to take a U-turn and rewrite the plot of your own life.

Photo by Luz Adriana Villa

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About Nathalie Chantal de Ahna

Nathalie Chantal de Ahna is a holistic nutritionist & mindfulness coach, passionate about showing people how one can reach as much as 120 years and still be healthy, happy, and beautiful. Visit her blog, Simply Live Better, for tips on wellness & happiness and find out more about changing your life the fun way on Facebook and Twitter.

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  • Hiba

    beautiful article, thank you for your honesty!

  • Sharon

    I LOVE this, thank you for sharing, I needed this today, I am changing but feel like it needs to hurry up – but as you said, you need to take it one step at a time.

    Congratulations on your all the fears you have conquered xx

  • Nathalie

    Thanks a lot, Hiba! Being honest sometimes can be the hardest thing to do but when you feel you need and want to change, it is the first step to take :-)

  • Nathalie

    Thank you, Sharon! So glad to hear my article could help you reduce some pressure. Don’t be too hard on yourself and try to go with your gut. Thinking sometimes is way too overrated :-)

  • Razwana

    Natalie – I simply adore your story so far. Choosing yourself and accepting yourself can be so difficult to do, but as you have shown, absolutely worth it.

    :::applause:::

  • Nathalie

    That is so nice fo you to say, thank you, Razwana! :-) To be honest, putting myself out there like this was not the easiest thing to do. But I really always try to walk my own talk, so I left my comfort zone again. I’m glad you like my story :-)

  • Danielley

    Great article. Your story has given me hope for myself. I want to change certain aspects of my life and I am often filled with self doubt as I think “things have been this way for so long… I can’t change now” but you have really made me think. Thank you x

  • Nathalie

    Dear Danielley, I’m so glad to hear I made you think :-). Because it doesn’t matter how long things have been the way they are. We can always change. You just need to really want to. And maybe find someone to give you a little nudge every now and then. Take baby steps. And a few weeks or months from now you will have already come a long way. I wish you all the best and do not forget: anything is possible once you’ve found your balance! :-) Nathalie

  • Jessica Boiss

    I have been having a hard time with my Eating Disorder, especially since I always feel I am stuck in a rut. This article helps me realize that there are people who have left behind the ED ways, just by taking one step. (:

  • Jen Bemke

    How do you go about taking that first step? What if you know you have to change, but feel like you aren’t worth it? That it would just be a waste of time? I can’t seem to grasp the concept of ‘loving myself’ and putting myself first. It seems I do ok for a few hours/days, but then the thoughts creep in and I start to doubt myself.

  • Nathalie

    Dear Jessica, I’m so glad to hear my article helped you realize leaving behind your ED is possible by taling baby steps. That’s what you need to focus on, the small successes you achieve every day. And when you do that you will see that slowly but surely they become bigger over time. You can do this! :-)

  • Nathalie

    Jen, try and make yourself comfortable with a cup of tea or something you really like, get into a comfortable position, relax, breathe consciously and then visualize: what will your life look like if you start changing? What will it feel like? What effect will it have on you? What if you make visualizing this your first step and, once you’re filled with this idea of your new life, take it from there? If you like, I also have a new article on my blog about 6 first steps you can take if you want to overcome a disorder or addiction. Maybe this might help you, too. And even though I do not know you: you are totally worth it! Because we all count. Each and everyone of us!

  • intentionista

    Absolutely love the honest and authentic discussion!

  • Nathalie

    Oh, that is lovely, thank you so much! :-)

  • Neha

    So motivating… Thanks a lot for this wonderful post…

  • lv2terp

    Absolutely beautiful!!!! So inspiring, and many words of wisdom in this post, thank you for sharing your story!!!! :) I love many points you stated, this is my fav! “when you are no longer haunted by your past nor concerned about your future, you are ready to see what’s beautiful today.” Thank you! :)

  • Nathalie

    Thank you for taking the time to read it and getting back to me to tell me you liked it. It means a lot to me! :-)

  • Nathalie

    That is very sweet of you to say, thank you! I’m glad you like it :-).

  • Craig

    Nice article, but frustratingly abstract. For someone who feels like they’ve done all they can and can’t see their future being any different from the past- I’m really open to ideas such as ‘get out there’ and ‘leave your comfort zone’ – I just don’t know what they mean in the context of my life.

  • Teri

    Greatness! Especially related to this……. “Meditation taught me that silence does not equal loneliness. Silence equals inner peach. And inner peace equals strength”
    Thank you, you captured my feelings exactly!!!