Are you changing? I contend you are. Either you are driving it, or it is driving you.
What are you changing? Is it some personal trait? Or are you just learning something new? Chances are that you are doing that on your own. No one taught you about change and it is unlikely you have someone supporting you through your change.
Let’s explore change so you are able to best use your instinctive process of change.
As kids we feel life directs us with its change. That isn’t necessarily bad. Growing is changing. We learn that there is always more to change. We learn we can say no to change. We learn we can direct change.
Change is not what you think it is
You are taught to believe your conscious mind is in charge… you could only wish. We all start with the illusion that we can mentally control our lives. In actuality, more often it is your unconscious mixed with your emotions that are driving the bus. Your conscious mind is just a passenger trying to be the back seat driver.
A problem is often motivating you to change. Consistently, the problem is only the presenting symptom to a deeper phenomenon. Let’s say you are overweight and need to lose a few pounds. That is a problem for your tight jeans as well as your health. You figure reducing your calories will solve the problem. Through weeks of denial you lose a few pounds. Your inspiration was your self-criticism.
The symptom and its seemingly obvious solution is not the true solution. As the studies show, it is the lifestyle changes that produce sustainable change. To get that depth of change deeper issues need to be addressed. You may need to look at not just the amount of food you eat, but also the quality. Are you gluten intolerant? Do you have food allergies? Then there is the stress component. We could go on… you get the point.
Deep change means deep work – work that we aren’t driven to do at first.
Deep change comes with a price. You will need to utilize resources to create the change you want. The return on our investment has a direct relationship with the depth of your commitment. How that looks for each person will vary. You may need to spend more time alone, while someone else will need to put more energy into letting go of the past. Others will need to spend money on services, from bodywork to coaching, to achieve the change they want.
I haven’t met a person yet that doesn’t start out cheap in some way. There will be some facet of your change you will hold back on. You might think you don’t have the money to pay for a series of Rolfing sessions or the time to go to the gym. In the vast majority of cases the reasons are just that. Reasons your conscious mind offers up in service to your fear of change. They are also testing your level of commitment. Either way, breathe and keep moving forward.
Change is learning
Change is not just a noun. It is an action verb that evolves according to the feedback you get. Much like a rat and her food bar, if you don’t get your reinforcement your behavior will be extinguished. If you do get a positive reinforcement you will continue. This means that learning how to change, implanting the change strategy in your body and mind is hard and slow at first. As you learn that failure is not deadly, that success comes after many efforts, that courage comes from the persistence, and efficiency comes from repetition – you change.
You begin to adapt and generalize the learned behavior of change. You might not master anything, but you can learn mastery around changing. I have seen men and women achieve the impossible in one arena and then succeed doing that in another much faster. How many serial entrepreneurs do you know?
You unconscious saboteurs are exchanged for an unconscious operating system for success. As you release the limits from the past, often from just succeeding, your mind and your body stops resisting, you stop finding excuses. Rather than difficulties you start seeing opportunities. This reorientation occurs because, more than your conscious mind, your unconscious has a new focus.
You can cheat
Yes, you can cheat change. It is fun and fair. In fact it is how much change is done.
You grew up in a box that not only told you how to be. The box told you how to do it. For example, our educational system has us sitting in rows hour after hour memorizing and reciting what we ‘learned’. All the regimented patterns of how we learned have us changing within that system of rules.
As a dyslexic I was forced to learn like others dyslexics. Einstein’s dyslexia allowed him to see outside the box. Dyslexics, through either our unique mental strategy or years of finding other ways to do it, figure it out by learning to think outside the box. Like all dyslexics I know, I unintentionally keep trying until I find something that works. A British study shows that more than a third of the entrepreneurs surveyed identified themselves as dyslexic.
You too can be a little dyslexic. You can find ways to cheat the system to think and be outside the box of tradition. When you feel frustrated or can’t find a solution, think like a dyslexic. Ask what would Einstein do, what would a dyslexic do? Act as if there is no box. Act as if you came from a different culture where things were done differently. There is a good chance your new perceptions will produce a new result.
Learn from others as they change. You will begin to notice that there are people who seem to change naturally. Don’t just ask intellectual questions. Observe them as if you are an anthropologist studying ancient behaviors. Observe their bodies, their emotions, their movements, how they deal with stress – all those things we don’t usually think about. These are the unconscious behaviors that are the foundation to their successful change process.
Start to model a few of those non-mental behaviors around what you want to change. It works. NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) developed from studying the how’s, not the why’s of great changers.
Taking the contrarian stance further, go out and fail. As Bucky Fuller said, “If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t learning.” To change means to fail sometimes. Children who are given everything, while not being allowed to make mistakes and fail, never learn that, not only do you survive after failure, you may learn something new or end up in a better place. Overcoming adversity at an early age teaches you that change is possible.
When is the last time you risked and failed?
Enjoy the ride
Focus less on the outcome and more on the journey. You will learn more, as well as eventually enjoy more. Being present to the moment is not taught in our culture. Riding the waves of change teaches you to surf what you have cannot control. You learn to let die what is not serving you and trust that the rebirth will bring a gift even better than your original goal.
Learn to change. Teach others the art of change.