How to Change

What is Change?

Throughout your life you have developed beliefs, attitudes and perceptions that have shaped who you are. Some of these aspects of your thinking help and empower you. Others can drain your energy and subsequently make you physically sick.

For example, you have learned how to think positively so you always have a good attitude about things to come; however, you grind your teeth at night. On one hand, you have mastered a state of resourcefulness by always remaining positive. On the other, you cannot rid yourself of some subconscious behavior which only does you harm. The result? People see you as a happy and positive person, and you wind up getting headaches and a sore jaw, never really knowing why.

Pink Elephants

Think of a pink elephant. Funny image. It is easy to picture for just about anyone. Now, stop thinking of a pink elephant. Try harder to stop thinking about it. It’s not easy to stop thinking about anything. The mind does not know “don’t” or “stop.” It only hears “pink elephants”. Pretty soon, all you are thinking about is pink elephants.

Now, think of a white cloud. It is easy to think of a white cloud. Notice that you are no longer thinking of a pink elephant. Why? You changed your focus. How did you change your focus? Simply by breaking the pattern. That is how you can initiate change in your life. Beginning first with understanding your thoughts and where they are focused (pink elephant). Then, designing a new thought process (white cloud) and thinking about it. Finally, awakening to the idea that these are just thoughts, and you can exercise free will anytime you like.

Remember, focusing on what you don’t want or don’t like will only get you more of what you don’t want. I have had weight loss clients tell me that all they think about is their weight and how heavy they are. Moments after that thought they are eating a doughnut or a candy bar. Smokers have explained that they continuously think about quitting their smoking habit, only to find themselves smoking a few minutes later. Is the obese client thinking about being fit? Is the smoker thinking about being a non-smoker? The answer is no. They are dwelling on the reverse of an idea. That simply will not get you what you want…ever.

Imagine you are in a movie theater watching a man being chased by a bad guy. He runs into a room that has a window. Before the bad guy comes into the room, he escapes out a window and hides on the ledge. As you watch him, you see how easy it is for him to move on the ledge. It almost seems like he does not know how high up he is. The bad guy moves to the next room continuing to look for him, and for a moment he is safe. A moment later a friendly face appears in the same window to help the man on the ledge. He realizes this is dangerous, and he says “yikes, don’t look down!” What happens? You guessed it, the man looks down. Now what happens? Fear sets in, and the man clings to the side of the building. Depending on how high up he is, his fear of heights and the depth of the ledge, the man could literally freeze in his steps. What is happening? His focus is not on walking to the window. It is solely focused on “down,” 25 stories of falling. The more he thinks about “down,” the more immobilized he is.

If you were going to get this man back to the window, how would you do it? Would you stand by the window and tell him how far from the ground he is? Would you tell him that it will really hurt if he falls (or that it might mean certain death)? Would you tell him not to look down? If you wanted him to come to the window safely, you stand at the window (inside), and you would put your arm out and say, “walk slowly to me, keep your eyes on me…”, and you would continuously reassure him that everything is fine ( you only have 5 more steps, that’s it…keep your eyes on me…) you get the idea. The last thing you want to do is focus reverse of an idea.

The same is true in changing behavior or unwanted habits. You must focus on what you want, not what you do not want. This is critical in behavior modification.

How do you know it’s time to change?

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