*Find the audio version of this post on iTunes, Anchor.fm, Stitcher or your favourite podcast app.*
Let's take a moment to talk about change. I'm all for change that leaves you feeling better, experiencing greater peace, and able to live life with as little pain and suffering as possible. The work I’ve been - slowly but surely - doing on my own life over the last twenty-odd years has taught me this is possible but also that it can be incredibly hard - let’s be honest, there are times when it feels completely impossible! This is the reason I have learned to listen to my own intuition and why I started working with Reiki. It's also the reason I share my thoughts about healing, living a more intentional life, and today's topic - change. How often have you made some sort of change in your life, hoping it will make you feel happier and more fulfilled, only to realise you’ve ended up with more of The Same - the same feelings, the same results. Over the last forty-something years I’ve realised that we all do it - it seems to be a default setting to think that changing external circumstances alone will be enough to change our internal feelings or experience, but it doesn't really work that way. I'm sure you can think of times where you made an external change and ended up with the same result. Perhaps you traded one bad relationship for another, or left an unfulfilling job for another one doing the same thing. Maybe you stopped smoking but started drinking too much - different drug, same result. My list could go on, but I’m sure you get the point. We all have such wonderful expectations, but often - at some point down the line - we realise things aren’t very different after all. We’re in another version of the same situation only the wallpaper is different. Why is this? What makes us hungry for change, only to find it doesn’t bring about the fulfilment and happiness we wanted?
The truth is that genuine change can only come from within - I talked about this in my previous post when I quoted Jim Rohn. He said for things to change WE have to change, and it's true. You can alter your circumstances - buy a house, get a better car, a great job, or even trade your partner in for a different model, but ultimately unless YOU change, you’ll still be the same person looking outside of yourself for satisfaction. There is an old adage that says “wherever you go, there you are”. This is the reason that revisions on a superficial level will never be wholly satisfactory - even if they feel fun and exciting at first. Real and lasting change generally comes in the form of a breakthrough. The Oxford English Dictionary defines this as a “sudden, dramatic, and important discovery or development.” It's essentially a quantum leap in your understanding. If you're wanting to feel better in some way then this will generally involve a shift in your understanding of those aspects of yourself you’re trying to ‘fix’. Breakthroughs seem to occur quite naturally during crisis-points. In fact many great teachers point to a near death / out of body experience, being on the verge of suicide, the devastating loss of a loved one, or something equally catastrophic as their 'life-changing' moment. However it doesn’t have to take something quite so spectacular to start making positive change in your life. In fact, if you're reading this, it may be because you're ready for a personal breakthrough.
In previous posts / episodes, I talked about simple techniques you can use to listen to your body in order to identify where you're out of alignment, and how you can use those signs to work out the root cause of the issue. I recommended making a statement of intent for how you want to feel instead. (If you missed these, or need a refresher, this is a good point to review.)
I've been using an example about someone feeling dizzy and unable to stand up without aid. On reflection, we identified that this person also can't stand up for themselves at work, and recognised this as a theme that has occurred in the past too. The decision was made to switch this feeling of not being able to address their needs, with the intention to feel "self-expressed at work". You might be wondering how this statement can be enough to trigger a breakthrough.
A breakthrough can be broken down into six separate elements, and when I list them you'll see that we have already covered four of them in our example:
1. Hitting a low point - for our imaginary person this was the manifestation of dizziness / inability to stand. What is it for you?
2. Looking at the root cause of the issue - not speaking up for themselves at work and in other situations which go back to childhood.
3. Making a decision - at this point I feel it's worth stressing the decision may be that you're willing to accept the current circumstances rather than trying to change them, and that it's your attitude you want to change. That's legitimate too, and is something we will come back to in a future post (edit: find the post here). In our example, however, the decision was that things cannot continue this way.
4. Setting a new intention (or standard) for yourself - e.g. to feel self-expressed at work.
So now we can look at the last two elements:
5. A new way of being that supports the intention.
The wording is important here - 'a new way of being'. How can you 'be' in relation to the issue, in order to support your new intention? In our example, it might include the person taking a completely different approach at work - for example in interactions with their boss, or the way that they let colleagues treat them. It could be that they become more assertive and forthright in their communication, that they take the lead more, or that they start to speak up when there is something on their mind. They might want to directly address what they are unhappy about, or to make suggestions to remedy things they haven't spoken out about before. There are lots of different options.
If you're working through these exercises with an issue of your own, try writing down different ideas for new 'ways of being' however crazy or unlikely they may seem. Ultimately, you have to decide whether doing them is more or less scary than things continuing as they are! Which brings us on to the final element of a breakthrough and the thing that turns 'change' in to 'lasting change'.