Have you ever wondered why people don’t change?
Oftentimes, especially this time of year, people make New Year’s resolutions. They say to themselves, “I have so many changes I want to make, so I’ll start fresh!”
Yet, very few people are able to make any long-term changes to their life. Why is that?
We have to first understand that there’s a myth in our society: if we accept where we’re at right now, we will never change. And that’s the actual opposite of what creates change.
What facilitates change is awareness of where I am now, and awareness of the elements in my life that are holding me back. When I’m conscious of that, I can positively adjust my lifestyle because I’m not blinded by seeing only what I want to see. I can see the beliefs that I’m operating from, and I can see what’s not working.
Over time, we’ve all formed a kind of addiction to this pattern of thought that is rooted in thinking negatively about ourselves. We’re stuck in a cycle of thinking these self-shaming thoughts are going to create the change that we desire.
I’ve seen many examples of this, and one I can distinctly remember is a woman I was counseling, who held a high position in her field. After a terrible divorce, she abandoned her career, and now was drinking all day.
As we began to explore her issues using Mindful Inquiry, we discovered that she had incredibly high anxiety around a career, as well as dating again. The stress was so high that she was trying to relieve herself from that anxiety and having to deal with those situations.
As we tried to dispel this anxiety, I started a routine with her. Every day, I would ask her if she was feeling bad that she drank yesterday. She would always say, yes. I pointed out how this layer of constant shame was hindering us from exploring the deeper issues that were affecting her behavior. She wasn’t giving herself the chance to uncover the real issues at play because she was so consumed with judging herself for the behavior.
I kept asking this question, day in and day out, “So, why is it that you’re judging yourself for drinking last night?”
She’d say that she shouldn’t have drank that much, or she had acted out and embarrassed herself.
Her reasoning for the judgement about herself was that she didn’t want to drink anymore.
But is that reasoning sound?
It’s a little bit like if you were teaching a child how to ride a bicycle. Each time the child falls off the bicycle, you start saying, “Well what’s wrong with you? You’re not doing it right.”
It’s the exact same thing. No adult would do that. That’s not the way to learn.
The way to change behavior is to develop a sense of acceptance of what we do. I did that with this client – we worked at it to the point where she finally was able to stop judging the behavior of drinking.
We are always looking to fix the situation. You have a drinking problem? The common advice is to stop it. Just stop drinking.
The first and most important component to be able to create change is self-acceptance of where I’m at now. So, I drank last night – ok – let me take a look at the reason why I drank, but not judge the fact that I did it.
When you allow yourself to make mistakes and not judge yourself based on those mistakes, you’ll experience how quickly your actions change.
Self-acceptance creates change
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