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How to Change

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There’s a part of my brain that believes if something doesn’t feel awesome, something has or is about to go terribly wrong. Change doesn't always feel awesome. I'm in the business of change, but these days who isn't? Even change that many would agree sounds wonderful...say, like winning the lottery, would also bring with it a host of required decisions and changes that would likely freak me out to some degree.

My brain's reaction to change has served me sometimes, of course, and I like to regularly thank this part of my brain for keeping me safe and alive.

I also like to frequently redirect this part of my brain when it tries to keep me comfy at the expense of my personal or professional growth. Growth is uncomfortable. Change can be uncomfortable. When I want something for my life that requires it, part of my brain FREAKS out.

So, rather than automatically making my brain freaking out mean something has gone wrong, I redirect it. This is how:

I look for my “hard why”.

To find my hard why, I take a good look at why I want the result I want. Why do I want to make a change or work towards a specific outcome? I’ll grab a pen and paper and ask myself these 4 questions:

  1. Why is creating this result important to me?

  2. What will it cost me if I don’t?

  3. What discomfort will come up and why is it worth it?

  4. What would make it even more compelling?

I start imagining the future me who has achieved what it is I want and take stock of why this is compelling. I review this often.

By doing this, rather than thinking “I don’t want to do this <<uncomfortable thing>>”, I remember that I actually do. In the moment, some of the actions required might not feel great but I can choose to remind myself why I DO want to take them. I can try to find ways to make them more enjoyable. I can show myself compassion and love and patience. Sometimes getting excited about things takes a little work. Expecting that this should happen naturally is nothing short of setting our self up for failure.

My clients are often relieved when I tell them that their brain freaking out about something doesn’t always mean something has gone wrong. Often, they’d been telling themselves that they shouldn’t have been feeling uncomfortable about their decision to make a change or pursue some sort of goal or result. At some point, they adopted a belief that if things didn’t feel easy, it was somehow a problem and a reason to give up on getting the thing. Of course, we can always decide that pursuing something isn’t worth what we have to give up to get it but please make it a choice. We can also learn not to make that mean something terrible about us. Get some help if you need it, but decide so you don’t have to suffer through the indecision and back and forth. Doesn’t that also feel terrible?

Yes, yes it does.

What do I mean when I say that our brains freak out at the thought of doing things that we’re not super excited about doing? Let me tell you how it shows up...

This is how:

We become confused.

We get very worried.

We become overwhelmed. Indulgent Emotion

We indulge in thoughts and feelings that aren’t helpful. We might notice that we’re indulging in these emotions frequently during times of stress. Indulging in an emotion means we stay in that emotion for a long time because it FEELS useful but it isn’t.

What I’ve been teaching for almost 2 decades is that this is another way a certain part of our brain tries to protect us. It feels safer to think we “don’t know what we want” rather than admit that we do know but are scared we can’t have it. That feels SUPER uncomfortable. Our brains are good at trying to protect us from that.

How can you tell if you’re indulging? Well, the result is usually that we are stuck. We feel paralyzed or overcome.

As noted, the most typical emotions we indulge in are confusion, worry, and overwhelm. Pay attention to these guys. They’ll trip you up if you don’t.

So, anticipate discomfort. Notice worry, confusion, and overwhelm. There’s no need to be shocked, surprised or caught off guard by these feelings. Expect them. Normalize them. Then you won’t stay stuck.

It's pretty darn normal to feel uncomfortable when it comes to trying a different way of being, making decisions differently, or growing personally or professionally. I took up playing hockey for the first time a few years ago, trust me, I know. I started every game feeling like barfing and ended every game feeling completely on top of the world. Let yourself feel that on top of the world feeling once in a while. It’s pretty great. (By the way, we almost always lost our games--totally not the point). :)

The same way the leaves change colours, so can you. Change is possible and can even be beautiful, if we give it a chance. Cheers to making work better, p.s.: Ready for change? Schedule a chat with me and we can talk about it and how I might be able to support you through it.

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