Tend to the moments, and the years will take care of themselves.
– Tibetan proverb
Do you want a happier life?
Have you a collection of self help books?
If so, you have probably seen some of the big claims on the covers of these books.
They may say they are:
- life changing
These are big promises and some people who read the books (and do the work) do find their lives changed, revolutionised or transformed.
However I suspect that doesn’t happen for most people, the miracle never happens and now they have yet another ‘life changing’ product gathering dust on the shelves.
It’s not just books, the same kinds of sales pitches can be found for videos, audio courses, webinars, teleseminars and online courses.
You may have read the book, attended the training, watched the webinar hoping that this is going to solve your problem, or sort out your life, just as the sales pitch promised.
However, when it’s all over you might have thought it wasn’t quite as earth shattering as you had expected.
Waiting for a miracle cure
When I started down the path of committed self-development on my first NLP Practitioner training in 1999, I was amazed by how easy it was to change issues that had previously been stuck.
I started to think that if I could find just the right trainer or therapist, they would be able to spot what was wrong with me and perform a special advanced technique to change that.
Then the clouds would part, the celestial choir would sing, the scales would fall from my eyes and I’d be fixed!
There would be a new me, perfect in every way.
Of course, it never happened.
It took me a while to realise that it probably wouldn’t happen that way for me and for most other people.
At that time I thought my difficulties were like a pair of handcuffs. Just one thing: simple, straightforward, just needing a key. Once the handcuffs had been unlocked and removed I would be set free.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s usually not just one thing that needs to be changed, it’s more complicated than that.
Have You Been Gullivered?
Now I think most of us are more like Gulliver on Lilliput.
In Gulliver’s Travels, Gulliver finds himself washed up on the beach after a shipwreck. When he wakes up he finds that he can’t move. The Lilliputians have tied him down, with what for them are huge cables, but for him are little more than cotton threads.
Individually these threads are almost nothing, but he has been so thoroughly tied down that he can’t move, he is held fast.
I think that most people have been ‘Gullivered’. If you can’t do something, or make progress in your life, it’s because there are lots of little things that are working in your life to keep you in place.
Some people have been ‘Gullivered’ a little and some have been ‘Gullivered’ a lot.
Slow Change – Little Things Mean A Lot
The principle of Slow Change is that the value of making little changes continuously over time can have huge benefits.
If you were to work consistently, using whatever techniques you prefer, to dissolve each of these threads you would have a little bit more ‘wriggle room’, a bit more room to manoeuvre and a little bit more freedom.
Individually each would be a tiny change, over time an accumulation of these tiny changes could become very large changes indeed.
The individual changes that you make would probably not be extraordinary, transformative, life changing, they might be very modest differences that accumulating over time, then they would lead to extraordinary, transformative, life changes.
The Compound Interest Of Suffering
As an improbable example let’s imagine that you got stressed every time I tugged my right earlobe, because something about it just freaks you out.
Each time I do it you experience some tension in your body, a tightening of your muscles, a change in your breathing and a little blast of adrenaline, cortisol and other stress chemicals sloshing through your body.
It’s not a huge stress reaction, after a while you might barely notice it happening. It might pass quickly, perhaps after no more than 10 seconds, then your physiology goes back to normal, the stress reaction is finished.
Imagine that this only happens once a day, just 10 seconds a day of being bathed in stress hormones, not very good for you, but not so bad.
However, over the course of a year that adds up to a whole hour being bathed in stress hormones, that’s 10 full hours of stress response a decade!
That is a lot of time to be feeling distressed and immersed in stress hormones which have physical consequences such as messing up your immune system. But if it’s just for 10 seconds a day you might barely notice it.
Eating The Elephant
If you were to take care of the hypothetical ‘ear lobe’ stress reaction: using EFT, NLP, or your techniques of choice, then when I tug my right earlobe it is just someone tugging his earlobe: no stress response, no muscle tensing, no cortisol or adrenaline. Not today, not the day after, not the day after that, a month after that, a year after that. That’s gone, that’s one hour a year less of swimming around in stress hormones!
If you had just one 10 second stress response per day it wouldn’t be such a problem, but think about the number of times you get triggered in your daily life. Stressed by the way people look at you, what they say, what happens in your daily life, the situations you find yourself in, etc. Little, or not so little, stress reactions rippling through your system every day.
So if you were to defuse just one stressor a day, every day, think of how much less stress you would have at the end of the year. Each stressor removed is another of Gulliver’s threads taken off: less stress, more freedom, more ‘wriggle room’.
There’s a huge bonus that makes this approach even more worthwhile. Each day you do this you are not only taking care of the stress that is there on that day, but you are also taking care of the stress that would have been triggered next time in that situation, and the time after that.
Using this simple approach you could develop more: resilience, room to manoeuvre, clarity of thought, appropriate emotional responses and freedom of action over time.
The ‘Slow Change’ approach isn’t very glamorous. I probably couldn’t sell you a book entitled: “I could make you a thin, rich, sex-symbol in 20 years (but only if you are willing to put in the effort)”.
This is not a ‘get fixed quick’ scheme and there is probably not going to be a heavenly choir or a special magic trick. You just need a little bit of applied action over a lot of time.
That’s how I’ve been making changes since 1999: slowly, one piece at a time.
I can truthfully say, since I learned NLP and EFT (and started using them) that I am not the man I used to be, and it’s an improvement.
No Big Promise
‘Slow Change’ is just one way of tackling the challenges of being an easily stressed human in an easily stressing world. It’s not the solution to everything but I do think it’s a realistic approach to a lot of things.
This approach is nowhere near enough for some situations. There are many people who have had tragedies, traumas, childhood experiences and other difficulties that require a different kind of help.
In spite of what I have said I do think some people have ‘miracle cures’, clearing big issues and transforming their lives. I also think they are rather few and far between, they wouldn’t be called miracle cures otherwise. Pinning your hopes on one to change your life is like hoping for a win on the lottery, it is possible but not very likely.
If all this makes sense I have two questions for you:
- What one small thing could you change today to give you an easier future?
- Then, what will you change tomorrow?