Change, wow it’s such a huge subject that I have been struggling about where to begin. There are so many different approaches we could take. There are tonnes of internet sites which can help us full of lists of all the underlying fears which get in our way and all the practical steps we can take to illicit change.
All of these have a place and are definitely useful, but they can appeal to a sense of pushing through and breaking down our blocks, to “making” us get over ourselves and “just do it.”
In this route lies danger. I’ve tried that and I can assure you that while you may be able to “make” yourself do things, there can be a cost. Stress levels and anxiety can skyrocket as the part of us that feels the fear gets triggered.
I want to offer you something different, a gentler, calmer more supportive path of transformation.
When we investigate further we often find some very good reasons why we may struggle with change, reasons which have kept us safe and functioning up until now.
If we turn towards these parts of ourselves rather than try to force them to go away or be quiet, we can come to understand what is going on and to find gentler, kinder more compassionate ways to communicate with ourselves.
Using transformation techniques such as EFT we can begin to free up the parts of ourselves which feel the fear, so they no-longer dominate our actions. The techniques and practical tools of change become easier to follow and our lives change in a deeper and more connected way.
So where do we begin?
We begin with awareness, which means we bring a conscious attention to what is, to how things are now. We drop the idea of change and as best as we can we take a step back and we observe without criticism or judgment; we just take note.
To help us do this we can keep a log or journal about what is going on:
- When do you do the things you’d like to change?
- What or who triggers the behaviour or feelings?
- Where do you do it?
- What thoughts go through your head about it?
- How often does it happen?
To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are
For me smoking is a great example of how raising awareness helped me understand why I smoked and why it was hard to stop.
Trying to quit smoking was a torturous process for me. Periodically I’d force myself to stop only to stubble and fall a few months later. This went on for years with me more and more irritated and annoyed with how pathetic I was being.
That was, until I listened to someone in a support group suggest accepting my smoking. This seemed like a one-way track to failure in my book but I tried it. Over the next year I took note and discovered some very interesting things.
- I smoked to stuff my feelings, especially those related to sexual abuse, which raised their head in therapy very soon after I stopped.
- I smoked to stuff other feelings like anger, loneliness and fear.
- I smoked because I believed I couldn’t really party and have a drink without a cigarette.
- I tried to pretended I didn’t smoke and only smoked other people’s.
- I visited a certain friend so I could smoke, especially when I was pretending I didn’t.
- I felt guilty about all of this so was always buying cigarettes to replace the ones I smoked.
- I thought I was a marijuana addict as I often smoked joints. I wasn’t, it was the nicotine I was after.
- I used cigarettes to give myself a break throughout the day, otherwise I never stopped.
So fellow change desirers:
- Set an intention to take note of what is going on.
- Get a notebook and as often as you remember write down what you are discovering.
- Note how you feel and any emotions that come up.
- Ask yourself what fears you may have about changing this behaviour.
And above all be kind and gentle, just observe, we are on a journey to reconnect with ourselves, to live lives we love free from these behaviours.