The Problem with Change

Change is what most of us want, and whether or not we admit it, we’ve got a list of things we’d like to change about ourselves.

The problem isn’t that we want to change. Change is natural and inevitable.

“Every single thing changes and is changing always in this world.” – Saigyo

The problem with change is that we beat ourselves up when we fail to change in the way we want, and we do it so often it becomes a cycle that creates the future; an endless loop of disappointment and self-recrimination.

When we really want to make a change, but feel defeated before we begin, is it possible to succeed?

It’s unlikely, as the vicious cycle is too ingrained and the negative feelings too strong. This is in spite of the fact that you may still have a strong desire to change.

Desire is the important first step in the process.

Think of all the times you tried to change, and the promises you’ve made to yourself.

How many of those promises did you keep? How many were successful?

Instead of judging ourselves harshly for failing to change, let’s take a look at some common beliefs about change.

Fact or Fiction?

Fiction: It takes 21 days to change a habit.
Fact: It can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days, with the average length of time to successfully form a habit coming in at 66 days.

Fiction: All you need is a desire to change.
Fact: A desire to change is essential, but it’s only one of the steps in the process. It has to be accompanied by readiness, and a willingness to act.

Fiction: Once we act, change should be quick and long-lasting.
Fact: Change is a process, not a one-time event. The most effective coaching or therapy takes this into consideration, and encourages the development of a sustainable practice.

Fiction: If it hasn’t worked, you don’t really want to change.
Fact: Successful change includes slipping back into old behaviors as part of the process. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow every time.

So many limiting beliefs that keep us from the change we so desire.

When we’re inspired to change and make a promise to ourselves, that promise comes from a real and true intention.

Another obvious but often overlooked truth is that to change a behavior, we first need to catch ourselves doing it.

The problem is that if we do catch it, we judge ourselves for doing it, and get caught up in our thoughts, and limiting beliefs from the past.

Do the Work

The world of personal development offers solutions for any problem. Like you, I’ve read the books, taken the programs and workshops, and still been disappointed by the outcomes.

Those solutions often fall short.

And what happens after you’ve read the book, or come home from a weekend workshop?

That workshop high usually disappears within days, and we’re left once again to our own devices, which almost certainly lead back to past behaviors.

What’s missing is implementation.

implement – verb

: to carry out; put into action; from 17th century Latin, implementum: to complete, satisfy, fulfill

How often do you follow through, take action, and keep your promise?

Desire must be followed by action. #100daypromise

Desire must be followed by action.

We mistakenly place the responsibility for change with the book or workshop leader. Or we believe that working with a coach or therapist is the solution, as if the magic happens in the sessions.

We give up our power, forgetting that transformation – true change – happens in between sessions, when we’re doing the work of implementation and taking a promise or commitment to completion.

The work of implementation is ongoing, and can seem boring, or repetitive. Instead of resisting, or using it as an excuse to quit, it’s important to develop personal practices.

When we’re connected to spirit or devotional energy, the work of implementation can lead to profound state changes.

When our fears are stripped away and we see clearly what we want for ourselves and why, we’re better able to make and keep our promises. We become more willing to do the work that’s involved, and that paves the way to ‘get there from here’.

In my experience, it’s more effective to do this work in community where we see ourselves in others. The compassion we generously give to others is reflected back to us, and that glimpse of our humanity helps us stay true to what we want.

When that happens, ‘getting there’ becomes less important than the experience, and the journey takes on a level of ease and flow that leads to greater success.

The next 100 Day Promise begins January 1, 2016 with the theme of Living Abundance.

Click to join us here.

 

Get Off the Stage (a lesson in change)

The more I work with the process of change, the more I think we all need to lighten up.

We’ve just crossed the mythical 21 day marker in the 100 Day Promise and things are getting interesting.

Two important things have become clear:

  • Consistency helps you focus on what’s important.
  • Devotion keeps your heart fully engaged.

Because the process of change is a bit more maze than labyrinth.

It’s easy to slip, take a wrong turn, and find yourself back at the beginning.

That’s when we most want to give up.

We forget that a slip is just a slip unless we give it meaning.

Give up the meaning, and take another step forward, and another…until suddenly you’ve created a pattern of consistency.

“Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behaviour, and our behaviour can change our outcomes.” – Amy Cuddy

You can change your outcomes.

Instead of getting pulled in by the emotions and drama of a slip, notice them as an observer.

Take in all the details, nod your head in sympathy and say, “Isn’t that interesting…”

Laugh at yourself. Let go of significance.

Lighten the fuck up.

You don’t always have to have the starring role in the drama of your life.

You can choose to walk off the stage.

Kinepolis cinema hall: photo credit - Anna

 

 

Your Resistance is a Sign

Resistance comes up when you decide to change something about yourself.

You create a goal, or make a promise bigger than you know yourself to be, and resistance comes up because in that moment your identity is threatened.

A part of you must die in order for the new part – the change – to come to life.

This is the journey of resistance.

Don’t try to fix it, or change it. Let it be, and let it move through you.

It can’t stay with you unless you feed it.

“Your resistance is a sign that your system is reconfiguring itself toward success.” – Todd Herman

Notice it, yes, because it’s there. Then turn your attention to what you want.

Commit each day to one action in service to your desire, and do what you need to do to feel how you want the outcome to feel.

Deep in the work of creating a new program, I’ve developed practices to fuel my promise, and ease my resistance.

Because that’s all there is to do.

Day by day, resistance lessens and my promise deepens, filling in areas of my being I didn’t know existed.

“When you surrender, the problem ceases to exist. Try to solve it, or conquer it, and you only set up more resistance.” – Henry Miller

It’s a tricky dance: surrender to it without trying to fight or change it.

It takes practice.

Like true mastery always does.

 

 

The Myth of the Overnight Success

Transformations and overnight successes are common, especially in the online world. We see them all the time: blueprints, roadmaps, and quick-fixes to success.

We forget that there’s no one-size-fits-all path.

We live in a world of over-promising that has a negative impact on our confidence and ability to pursue what’s important to us in life.

The problem with stories of overnight success is that is we don’t often hear about what had to happen to get there, and we almost never hear about the effort involved to reach the successes.

We only see the result, which if you’ve tried and failed in previous attempts to change, only serves to trigger self-recrimination and judgment.

So how do we get there from here?

When you make a promise to yourself, it always comes from a desire to change.

The truth is that change is what most of us want, but we deny that we want it.

Maybe you think you should be more accepting of what is instead of focused on what is not, i.e. your desired outcome.

But change is natural and to resist it is…well, kind of crazy.

“Every single thing changes and is changing always in this world.” – Saigyo

Always in flux, nature is the greatest example of change.

A few years ago we had a violent storm in Vancouver that included howling winds, power outages, and massive damage to our beloved park in the heart of the city. About a week after the storm, we drove through the park and I cried at the loss of so many trees. Yet, driving through the park now, I can hardly tell that anything had happened, and what was once chaos is again beautiful.

Change. From something that was, to something that different, and new.

At the time however, the media focused on the destruction and judgment of what had happened. That judgment was human and had nothing to do with what had actually occurred in nature.

The same thing happens in our minds when we desire to change, and make a promise to ourselves to do so.

The problem isn’t that we want change; the problem is that we judge ourselves harshly when we fail to change the way we want.

This judgment creates a vicious cycle; an endless loop of disappointment and self-recrimination that colours any future attempt to change, sabotaging our promises in an instant.

When we really want to make a change, but feel defeated before we begin, is it possible to fulfill a promise we make to ourselves?

How Does Change Work?

Change is too often thought of as a dramatic shift, i.e. from unhealthy to healthy, from debt to riches.

We’re led to believe that if we’re given the right kind of training, information or education, change will be quick and inevitable.

Except if this belief were true, many industries (weight loss for example) would cease to exist, and sadly that’s not the case.

In Changing for Good, Dr. James Prochaska found (after working with thousands of patients) that there are natural steps we all go through when making changes in our lives.

Since a promise is creating a change in the future, this is a good place to begin. 

cycle_of_change_prochascka, Changing for Good

It doesn’t matter what area of life you choose, we go through these stages every time we declare a desire to change, every time you make a promise to yourself.

Unless you understand how it goes, the cycle will keep undermining your ability to keep your promise.

This points to the fundamental truth that the process of change is seldom a straight path.

That’s why the 100 Day Promise is effective.

You’ll walk that path armed with tools and strategies, in a loving and supportive community.

Join us.

 

The Making of a Promise

I love words. They inspire me to go past the surface to explore origin and meaning.

For the meaning we give things changes everything.

Meaning also changes due to external forces like society, culture, and evolution.

Meaning makes all the difference to what and how we create in life.

Promise vs. Challenge

When I first created The 100 Day Promise, I had a clear intention, and I knew what I wanted to deliver.

I was initially inspired by the idea of a 100 day challenge, but something about it didn’t feel quite right.

So I turned to my dictionary, where I found that the origin of the word challenge was not as inspiring as I thought.

chal·lenge

: a call or summons to engage in any contest, as of skill, strength; from Latin, to accuse falsely, rebuke

As an Aries, I love a good challenge, but I also resist feeling dominated. The older meaning of the word challenge was what I’d understood energetically, and why I resisted the word.

Then I read the origin of the word promise.

prom·ise

: from Medieval Latin, literally, to send forth into the future; a declaration made about some act to be done or not done

“to send forth into the future” – this phrase sent a shiver of positive energy up my spine, and I wondered what it would be like to give myself 100 days to send a promise into the future.

Not as a commitment to act every single day, but as an intention to create the future.

That intrigued me, and formed the basis of The 100 Day Promise. 

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Why 100 Days

Mother Teresa said, “Life is a promise. Fulfill it.”

Break that down into manageable bits, and you have a life made up of many promises.

Each promise is a seed planted in your consciousness, that with the right amount of time and nourishment, comes to fruition. 

Each promise deepens your relationship to your word and your capacity to create change.

“Reality making is reciprocal. You make it, while it makes you.” – Deepak Chopra

In the world of personal development, we’re too often inundated by challenges and blueprints; 21 day programs that promise to [fill in the blank__________]. 

Sometimes they fail because these programs don’t live up to the hype.

Sometimes though, they fail because we move on, failing to implement what we’ve learned. 

Is that a failure of commitment or a failure of inspiration? 

I looked for an answer, and a possible solution. I wanted a new way of being that could empower our intentions in the world.  Continue reading

Day by Day Everything Changes

 

“Day by day, nothing seems to change, but pretty soon…everything’s different.” – Bill Watterson

Turning 50 is often seen as something to survive, a milestone to be ignored rather than acknowledged.

I didn’t feel that way at all.

For me it’s been a process of opening up and reclaiming what’s most important. This includes aspects of myself along with dreams that were set aside in the busyness of life.

And we do that don’t we?

We set things aside, compromise our values, accommodate the desires of others’, and slowly over time we forget about the dreams that set our souls on fire.

Until life rocks the boat with death, illness, blows to career and ego; so many crisis points doing a number on our spirit.

 

This year of living 50 began with a tangle of emotion:

love, anticipation, sadness, appreciation, excitement…swirling together to create a new state, one I didn’t quite have a name for.

It included the surprise and delight of celebrating with friends and family.

And beauty, always beauty.

I’m keenly aware and appreciative of the people, thoughts, and words that have shaped my life. What I’m not always aware of is how my life and words impact the lives of others, because like you, I have my blindspots.

The truth is, we all touch each others’ lives in some way.

Which is why the quote I started with makes so much sense to me.

Day by day, things are shifting and changing, and one day you wake up and everything’s different.

It can happen unconsciously or by choice.

You decide.

 

The Transformation of You

 

a new beginning and
all possibilities exist.

imaginal cells resting
inside their cocoon.

cocoon hanging from a branch

resolve is not needed
in this primordial goo.

just rest, trust,
and patience.

one cell,

two,

then many.

a you unlike any other.

the imaginals know
what to do and…

what

not

to do.

the newness of you will
emerge when ready.

a chrysalis falling away…
exposing, releasing.

imaginal you,
the end result assured.

more you than ever before.

Butterfly hanging from a branch

more fully your Self

more fully alive.

this you, not you,

yet perfectly you.

the past is done.
your cocoon, self-imposed,
no longer needed.

take flight.

 

A Rampage of Appreciation

 

Every time you appreciate something,
every time you praise something,
every time you feel good about something,
you are telling the Universe,
“More of this, please.”
                                                     – Abraham-Hicks

I’ve just had a brilliant day.

Not just because the sun was shining here in Vancouver (a rare occurrence in January!)

Window silhouette at Dr. Sun Yet Sen Gardens, Vancouver, BC

It was simply one of those days, awake and present to my life.

And it reminded me of an amazing practice called rampage of appreciation, from Abraham-Hicks.

So good for what ails you, and more than a little woowoo.

Here’s how it works:

  • Make a list of everything you appreciate right now.
  • Keep going.
  • Continue.
  • Add to your list.
  • That’s it, you’re doing great.
  • How about a couple more?

That’s it. Crazy simple, yeah?

Continue reading