“The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.”
– Herbert Agar
Think of change this way. Grasp one end of a rubber band between the thumb and forefinger of your right hand and the other end between the thumb and forefinger of your left hand. Think of this rubber band as your life. Now stretch the rubber band. Think of the right hand as representing new ways of do-ing, be-ing and having. Think of your left hand as representing old or current ways of do-ing, be-ing and having. Every time you stretch to act in some new way (also creating a healthy tension), your left hand is pulling you back into old patterns (unhealthy tension).
The reason 98% of the folks who resolve to change in the New Year fail by Valentine’s Day is their falling back into old ways of do-ing, be-ing and having. The pull to passivity, to the same old patterns of do-ing and be-ing is just too powerful. Their challenge of something new is trumped by their need for familiarity (safety and comfort) – the need to NOT change.
The truth about change
“The truth, like surgery, may hurt, but it cures.”
So, the truth about change. Creating change is challenging! If you decide your life is more interesting, more satisfying, happier and more worth living by not changing, that is your choice. But, you can’t have it both ways – I hate my life and I don’t want to change. That’s the definition of insanity – doing the same thing in the same way, over and over again, and expecting different results each time. Insanity (consciously or unconsciously) is this is a choice.
So, here are some truths I and my coaching clients have faced over the years, truths which have supported us to change and transform our lives in ways that have resulted in a greater sense of well-be-ing. Facing these truths in an honest, sincere, and self-responsible way, with love and compassion for yourself will jump start your journey towards meaningful change and transformation in 2015.
Connect to your life force
Your life force is energy. It’s real – palpable and measurable. Your life force is what provides you with the qualities of self-love, compassion, forgiveness, strength, courage, will, discipline, steadfastness, wisdom, truth, deep listening, right understanding and right action (notwithstanding those who say change is about willpower alone. Hint- it’s not).
To connect with your life force, it’s important to engage in some type of spiritual practice – meditation (sitting or walking), energy work such as yoga, tai chi or martial arts, self-reflection or contemplation, quietude and silence, being in nature, journaling, etc. A spiritual practice is not about religion or theology. I know atheists who have a spiritual practice; I know avowed religious folks who don’t.
The truth is, touching in on a regular basis to our deeper self results in experiencing a deeper sense of well-be-ing that supports us in time of challenge and gives us a sense of grounding, peace and calm with which we approach life and make healthy life choices and changes.
Live in a real community
If you find yourself spending more and more time engaged in online social networks, if you live much of your life communing with “friends” on Facebook, Instagram, or in virtual communities, there’s a better than average chance your real-world social skills may be eroding. You may find yourself turning down more and more invitations to “real” social events or feeling more uncomfortable when you do engage. You may find your social skills when engaging with “real” people are diminishing. You may find yourself “holding up” in your home more and more, venturing outside less and less. A healthy sense of well-be-ing comes from interacting and engaging in community – real, not fake, community. Our personal growth and positive mental, emotional and psychological health and well-be-ing feed on the nourishment we get from conscious interaction with others. Healthy change is supported in community.
Eat to live; exercise for health
Do you eat to live or live to eat? What’s your diet like? Most everyone knows what a healthy diet looks like. The health of our mind-body-spirit unit cannot maintain without a healthy diet. I’ve come across countless folks over the years who exercise to extreme so they can “pig out,” gorge themselves, and eat unhealthily. So, in the morning, they run, go to the gym, exercise to extreme at home so they can dive into unhealthy food and drink at night. Then, it’s the guilt and shame. So, the next day, the pattern continues – extreme exercise and unhealthy eating or drinking – a mental, physical, emotional and psychological roller-coaster lifestyle that results in anything but a healthy sense of well-being. Not to mention the emotional inner turmoil that erupts when one skips a day of exercising, but not a day of unhealthy eating or drinking.
The truth is that being in good shape, but poor emotional and psychological health, is bound to lead to a life of self-hate, self-loathing, unhappiness and frustration. Asking one’s self, honestly, sincerely and self-responsibly why one diets and exercises, or does not healthily diet or exercise, will help one move into a diet and exercise lifestyle that is healthy – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Is exercising and dieting about true and real health or something else? The “something else” usually leads to consistent emotional upset, frustration and failure.
Conscious intention, commitment and focus
“One must know oneself; if this does not serve to discover truth, it at least serves as a rule of life and there is nothing better.”
The truth is, without being “conscious” of who and how one wants to be, without being intentional and focused in every moment of change, the forces of old habits and patterns take over. Then, “change” is simply a small idea in a tiny brain molecule – magical thinking at best. Some important questions to ask are: “Why am I choosing to change?” “Do I have any hunch or instinct I won’t be able to keep my intention or change?”
Many folks want to change to impress or please someone else. If this is the case with you, a deeper exploration of what’s underneath your desire to please others is in order. “Why do I need to please others and have others’ approval?” “What does pleasing others get me?” “Who would I be and how would I feel if I didn’t please others?” “Do I love myself as I am, right here and right now?”
My mind is not me, but mine
On the other hand, if you’re honestly and sincerely committed and intentional about your choice to change, consistently monitoring your thoughts can support you in your change efforts. When you want to run faster, longer, and harder (when you know it leads to injury or burnout), when you want to eat the whole bag of M&Ms (when you know you’ll be upset with yourself afterwards), when you want to have another cigarette (when you know it’s unhealthy), when you want to spend the extra $100 (when you can’t afford it and it jeopardizes your credit score), monitor your thinking and explore what mental messages you’re hearing, what your Inner Judge and critic is saying, what old rationale is coming up for acting in ways that are self-sabotaging and less than life-affirming?
You’re in control of your mind, not the other way around. If you stay “awake'” and ask yourself questions like: “Why am I choosing this?” “Is this really supportive of my choice to change?” “Am I choosing to sabotage myself and if so why?”, you’ll come to a deeper understanding of your behaviors that are self-sabotaging and slowly be able to wean yourself away from old patterns and limiting beliefs that pull you back and keep you from changing.
Consistency and specifics, not extremes
Change happens in small steps and for most, there are steps backwards. The name of the well-be-ing game is consistency – moving forward on a conscious and consistent basis. One obstacle that interferes with change is making the mistake of “moving away” rather than “moving towards.” In other words, focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. The energy of moving toward a goal is more alive, juicy, positive, enthusiastic, exciting and motivating than the energy of moving away which is heavy, negative, and unpleasant.
Another obstacle is acting in extremes: exercising every day (rather than, for example, three or four days a week and increasing time incrementally), meditating for an hour (rather than starting with five minutes and increasing time slowing); reading the whole book (rather than part of a chapter, etc. The issue here is our ego gets in the way and our ego’s need for perfection to impress ourselves (or others) or others dooms us to failure. Sustainable change and achievement is about starting slowly, baby steps, being gentle with ourselves, and moving forward incrementally and consistently. How does a mouse eat a round of cheese? One small bite at a time. It works!
Finally, try out the phrase “I choose to…” instead of want or need. The energy of choosing is self-empowering and gives you ownership. Real, life-affirming, change is about feeling light and emotionally free, not about feeling needy for security, control or others’ approval. Consistency allows the brain to create the new neurological pathways that have to be ingrained for new ways of do-ing and be-ing to become habitual. No consistency, no change. Extremes generally lead to failure.
“Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt
If you’re one who feels your life is out of your control, that you don’t have enough time in your day to get things done, that you waste your time watching TV or hanging out online to an extreme, the truth is you’re doing a poor job at self-management. Time management is NEVER about time. Repeat, NEVER! It’s about self-management. Poorly-managed time is a symptom; “me” is the problem. When we work on self-management and self-regulation from a conscious, proactive (not reactive) place, time then ceases to be an issue.
Our values, or lack of them, play a large role when making choices as to what to do, how and when. When our choices are based on values, purpose and meaning that are murky or misguided, our efforts lead to confusion, mistakes, “so-called” self-defeating multitasking and chaos – “inside” and out.
When it comes to priorities, many folks ask the wrong question, i.e., “What’s next?” instead of the needed question, “What’s first?” Absent effective self-management skills, a clear life purpose and well thought-out values, we navigate life with a lack of clarity and direction, so everything is next and now, and urgent and important, and simply leads to greater confusion, stress and stress-related illnesses.
I know very few people who’ve been able to make honest and lasting change by themselves. Very few. Most folks who succeed with change have a support system of one kind or another. A support system helps us overcome the immune system many of us have towards change. Going it alone hardly ever produces real, lasting, and sustainable change. Who is your support? Are they nonjudgmental? Are they affirming? Do you feel safe talking about your life with them? Do they help you gain clarity?
Living with awareness
“In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves into crustal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.”
When we’re in touch with our deeper Inner Self, we experience a sense of freedom that supports us make the changes that bring lightness within. Awareness supports us to become more center- focused and allows us to discern what serves us from what does not.
The one major element that we can truly control in our life is self-awareness, the awareness that says “I’m the master of my life,” the awareness that brings meaning and purpose to our journey, the awareness that supports us to move forward along the right path. Without self-awareness, chaos rules our lives and with chaos comes unhappiness, unfulfilled dreams, self-deception, unmet goals, confusion, overwhelm and stress.
So, what’s the truth about you and your life? What’s the truth about the stories you tell yourself about why change is so hard and frustrating? About your definition of “insanity?”
The final truth
Most people are free-falling through their lives, ping-ponging from one crisis to the next. Living in this type of spiral leaves no room for conscious living.
Lasting change, transformation and well-be-ing come with self-awareness and a healthy integration of body, mind, and spirit. Change is a reality that can happen in every moment of our lives, every moment, but only if we’re aware of it and see the truth of “who I am” and “how I am” as I live my life.
Some questions for self-reflection:
- Who are you? Can you describe yourself without saying what you “do?”
- How do you feel when you define yourself?
- What do you want?
- How do you feel when you define what you want?
- Where are you in your life at work, at home, at play and in relationship and, why are you there?
- How do you feel when you describe where you are and why you’re there?
- Who are your allies in life?
- What are the “truths” about you and your life?
- How do you feel when you speak the truth of your life?
- Do you have a spiritual practice?
- Is time your friend or enemy? Why?
- Which end of the rubber band pulls you most of the time? How so?
- What percent of your social community is “virtual” and what percent is “real?”
- Are you optimistic or pessimistic about your life in 2015? How so?
- On a scale of 1-10, where are you when it comes to experiencing a real sense of well-be-ing?
- Can you visualize a world where you are moving effortlessly and consistently toward personal and/or professional change and transformation?
“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”
(c) 2014, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.
Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.
What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”
I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.
I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com
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