“First we make our habits, then our habits make us.”
– Charles C. Noble
It’s that time of year when New Year Resolution articles abound on websites, telling you how to choose and achieve your resolutions.
I spent some time racking my brains to find a way of talking about them that is different and useful, without success.
So I gave up and started to think about what I do to make changes in my life.
Rather than making and keeping New Years Resolutions I have what I think of as “Habits Of Change”, a collection of attitudes and actions that I apply to my daily life.
1. Use problems to grow: I assume that a problem is a disguised growth opportunity. I realise that some problems have lots more “growth opportunity” than others and can be real challenges, but I have found this a useful starting position.
For many people a problem is something that blocks them and holds them fast, I try to get myself to think of a challenging situation as an invitation to grow.
2. Try to be clear about what is going on: If you are going to respond to a situation you need to know what is happening now. I try to investigate the current situation and my part in it. Here are five questions I find helpful:
- What is going on in my outer world?
- What is going on in my inner world?
- What can I change in my outside world?
- What can I change in my inner world?
- How do I want to be in this situation?
Notice that while what I can change in my outer world might be quite limited I have room to manoeuvre in my responses and how I want to be in that situation.
3. Change my responses: Most of my problems are in my responses to what happens, not to what is happening. While the world may be difficult to change I can change the way I respond to the world (see Stop Trying To Change The World). Daily life gives me a ready supply of experiences and challenges that I can respond to.
If I choose to respond in the same way that I have always done then I can expect similar results. If I change my response then I change what happens, for this event and for all future events. Each small change propagates out into the future in ways I cannot foretell, but they do add up. (See The Compound Interest Of Suffering And Freedom).
4. Use what I know: I’m lucky enough to know lots of NLP, EFT and other techniques that can change my experience. But knowing them is not enough, I have to use them to get the benefit.
I suspect many people learn techniques like these and are full of good intentions to use them, but don’t. If you are one of those people who think it is better to suffer than use what you know to change for the better, I have a question: What on earth are you waiting for?
5. Making a change however small: Some problems are big and difficult and like a rabbit caught in the headlights we can be paralysed, unable to do anything. Even in situations like that I try to change something, even a tiny change can make some difference, give a bit more leeway to work on the next part. By going step by step I can usually make progress.
6. Work out where my limitations are and dissolve them if I can: I am a human being, I have inherited tendencies, an upbringing and lots of experiences. All these combine to create a unique collection of beliefs, values and responses that determine the way I am in the world.
Lots of these beliefs and responses that I live from may now be out of date and worth updating. The challenge is finding out what those beliefs and limitations are, then resolving them. The second part, thanks to NLP and EFT is quite straightforward. The first part – finding them is much more difficult because they are rarely visible to us.
I developed the Getting Out Of Your Own Way process as a way of being able to reliably find my own limits so I could dissolve them.
7. Let go of understanding: I think it is much more important to change something for the better than understand why things are broken. I am amazed by the number of people who will spend hours working out what is wrong with them, whose fault it is, what theory explains their difficulties and so on, rather than spend a few minutes starting to resolve the problem. In my opinion it is much more useful to do something about a problem than to just think about it.
These are some of the “Habits Of Change” I have adopted over the years. I really don’t know how I developed them, I don’t think any of them were conscious choices, I’ve just picked them up along the way.
If you could adopt a “Habit Of Change” which would you choose?
If you have a “Habit of Change” of your own which I have not mentioned let me know in the comments.Image courtesy of Sherman Geronimo-Tan