The Process of Changing

Do you ever feel like you would be more open to change if changing were easier?

Sometimes, when we start flirting with the idea of change, we pull back and retreat from it because 1) we are afraid of changing, 2) we are comfortable with the status quo, or 3) we start to think about the work and effort that would be involved in setting down the road to change and we dissuade ourselves. Our minds start imagining what initiating this change would mean and our stress levels go up and the end result is usually that we decide that the change is too scary, too hard, too much hassle, too uncomfortable, and we try to ignore our “change itch.” [But our change itch is a persistent little bugger. You know what happens when you try to ignore an itch, right? Have you ever been in a yoga or meditation class and get an itch on your nose, and try with all your might to ignore it? Somehow, the itch becomes all you can think about until it’s scratched!]

Here’s how to satisfy the change itch without freaking yourself out or diving head first into newness…

I.    To begin, get a new PERSPECTIVE. Try to view change as a process, rather than an all-or nothing event.

Processes take time, right? That takes a bit of pressure off, doesn’t it? Good. Try to relax. Change is hard and takes time. Be gentle with yourself.

II.     Simply THINK about the idea of changing.

Spend a few minutes thinking about something you may want to change. Guess what? YOU ARE CHANGING SIMPLY BY THINKING ABOUT CHANGING. These thoughts are generating new neurocircuitry in your brain! New pathways are forming and morphing as you contemplate, write about, imagine, and visualize this change in your life.

III.      IMAGINE the benefits. Make a list of the potential ways your life would improve if you actually made the change.

Let’s say you are thinking about quitting smoking. The list might look something like this:

TOP 5 ways my life would improve if I quit smoking:

1.    breathe better/feel better?   2.    Lou won’t tell my that I smell like an ashtray anymore 3.    have money that I would have spent on cigarettes to save or to spend on other fun things   4.    reduce my risk of disease/illness    5.    improve my relationship with Lou, who is always nagging me about smoking

IV.  REMIND yourself of those benefits. Post that list up on your bathroom mirror and read it out loud every day. Really imagine what it would be like to improve your life in those ways.

V.      Use that inspiration and ACT. Take a TINY step in the direction of this change. Wait. Observe. Notice. Share your success with a friend. Get support. Feel proud of yourself.

VI.    Do it AGAIN! When ready, repeat step V. Don't be discouraged if you face a setback. That's all part of the change process. Don't give up!

VII.   KEEP IT UP! Keep repeating step V until you have established a ‘new normal!’

Just start somewhere. It doesn’t matter how long or how slowly you move forward, but keep moving. You have one life to live. Don’t wait. Start with a (really really small) action. But start. Your future self with thank you! You can do it!