The New Year is traditionally a time when many people take stock of their lives and decide that there are things they want to change. Despite all the hype by the middle of January all those good intentions have fallen by the wayside.
Much has been written supporting the view that all you need to do to change your life for the better is to think positive thoughts. The same people will often suggest that rejecting any negative feelings is crucial if you are to live a happy, fulfilled life.
I would be the last person to dismiss the importance of being positive yet I believe it is simplistic and hugely unhelpful if you want to manifest a change in your life, particularly if you want that change to be both positive and sustained.
My personal experience of dealing with significant challenge and that of working with hundreds of people to help them create a sustained and beneficial change in their lives demonstrates that there has to be a multi layered approach. It doesn’t need to be difficult or complex. My strategy is built on the following principles:
Creating Lasting Positive Change
Unless there is a really powerful reason to change it is unlikely that real lasting change will occur. Identify what you want to change and why it is important to YOU.
To create change you need to choose to do things differently rather than feel you should or shouldn’t, you must or mustn’t, you ought to or ought not to. The latter brings with them huge baggage from childhood – parents and teachers impressing on you their beliefs and rules, the feelings that baggage engenders can easily sabotage the change process .
Choosing to do something because you really want to, has a very different feel, it’s a good place to start.
Give Yourself Permission
So many of the people I have worked with fail to create the change they say they want in life until they give themselves permission. They are caught up with what other people will think, many are stuck because they fear that other people will think badly of them or that if they make the change it will de-stabilise their relationships, if they worry that if they change people wont like them.
Giving yourself permission to move on and to do or be something different can be incredibly empowering.
Shine Your Light
What holds you back from creating lasting change? Is it fear of failing or perhaps you fear success? The quality of your thinking has everything to do with the quality of your life. Dealing with the beliefs and fears which hold you back are a vital piece of the jigsaw. Unless you deal with these they will continuously rear up potentially sabotaging any progress you make.
Doing this by yourself can feel really daunting , if it does it is really worth getting some help.
Acknowledge Negative Emotions – And Learn The Lesson They Offer
Negative emotions have a significant purpose, they are not good or bad – it is what we do with them which makes a difference. They offer a lesson and a call to action to do something different. We feel negative emotions when something doesn’t match our ore values. Rather than ignore them or as so often happens we bury them. The problem is that buried emotions are so easily triggered and they can become overwhelming.
A useful strategy is to acknowledge the negative emotion and to be curious about the lesson it offers. Once that is identified it is then possible to deal with the underlying problem differently.
It Is Not The Challenge Which Defines Us But What We Do With It
Whatever the challenge life offers it is your choice how you deal with it. Everything you do is a choice, even not choosing is a choice. Where you cannot impact on the situation, it is your choice how you react to it. Your perception, the meaning you give any situation, how you respond to things is all your choice.
It is your choice whether you see yourself as a victim to circumstance or whether you give yourself a more empowered role.
Small Steps Taken Consistently Create Lasting Change
You wouldn’t want to eat a cow in a single sitting, yet meal by meal, mouthful by mouthful it offers a very different prospect. The same is true with change. So many people falter because they go for the grand gesture and then find it is unsustainable. How often have you heard people say they want to get fit. They join a gym and tell you they plan to go for an hour, five times a week. They go for their assessment and twice after that and then can’t move for days as they are so stiff and sore. They fail to meet their own unrealistic expectations and very quickly loose heart and stop going all together.
It is important to create a sense of success and to be able to incorporate the action into your daily living on a regular basis. Don’t under estimate the power of making seemingly small changes but ensuring that they become a consistent part of your daily routine. This is true of your focus, your language, your actions and your thinking.