Thursday, December 28, 2006

Click and overome the hurdles of Change in 07

How to Overcome the Hurdles of Change
Try as you might, you can't seem to get rid of those 15 extra pounds... or quit smoking... or calm your combustible temper that gets you in trouble and sets your blood pressure soaring. We all have trouble spots like these -- nagging problems that we honestly want to change... and try to change.
However, in spite of all the self-help books, expert advice and all the tricks to 'fool yourself into change' (like taping pictures of obese people on the refrigerator, or serving food on smaller plates) the change doesn't last long. Remember all those broken New Year's resolutions? This can be disappointing and make you feel as if the problem is insurmountable.
But the thing that I've noticed over the years is that the times that I have made a significant and lasting change in my life, the change is precipitated by a shift in my perception and understanding of the challenge. One day I get a different understanding of the issue, and something goes 'click' in my head... I simply realize that I want to change the behavior -- and I do it. This happened when I stopped eating foods with processed sugar. It also happened when I stopped losing my temper with my children. One day I got a different perspective on those behaviors and realized that I truly didn't want to do them anymore. After the realization, behaving differently was easy.

What is this click that went off inside me? How did I come to it? And what can people do to bring about a click when they need one? For insight on this intriguing challenge, I spok
I spoke with life coach Meredith Haberfeld, co-founder and CEO of Handel Group Private Coaching (
The click actually isn't that mysterious, says Meredith. What it is quite simply is a profound realization that you are done with the old way of doing things. We all have areas of life where we've declared something done. Whether it's being done with meaningless dating, done with smoking, done tolerating a bad relationship... we all have areas of life where we have come to an insight that shifts reality for us, starting with the declaration that we're done. For example, the day I decided not to lose my temper at my children any more, I also saw how childish I was behaving when I would argue with them.
This realization might come on gradually or it could be a sudden onset, but whichever way it comes to you, it is a deep, clear recognition that it is absolutely possible for you to do or be something other than how you are now. What's holding us back? Meredith explained that most of us walk around pretending to ourselves that we are "trying really hard" or "doing the best we can" or "doing a good job." In reality, our reasons are virtually always the culprit. The "reasons," justifications and excuses keep us from making the real change that is required.
For example, Meredith explains she spent years disappointed that her home was messy, disorganized and somewhat unpleasant for her to be in, but "explained" it to herself with a private litany of excuses -- including that the mess wasn't hers, but her family's... that she was already spending too much time cleaning up after them... and that they weren't interested in changing. Then, one day, she saw the sadness of her helplessness and didn't like what she saw. This gave her the impetus to change her point of view about it, which in turn helped her realize that she could change the situation.

Step one is to create new rules you can live with. On the day you realize you're actually in charge of your choices and your life -- whether it's your temper, your weight, even your marriage -- and you give up the right to all your good excuses, the previously insurmountable roadblocks cease to block you any longer.
Meredith explains that people who continue to wallow in "change-worthy behavior" do so in part because they don't want to deal with the effort of living up to their own standard, so they tolerate their behavior, even feel bad about it, and pretend they've been "trying." They've had the behavior forever, they've even tried to change multiple times and failed repeatedly. But they just keep doing it. Meredith calls this the farce of "trying hard."
Once the click has occurred, people no longer tolerate their excuses because they have replaced them with the deep understanding that...
The desired outcome is altogether possible.
They can be done with their prior behavior.
Their explanations and reasons were justifications that kept them from doing what is best.
Feeling bad is a diversion to keep you from dealing with the change.
There are three situations that can trigger the click. Occasionally it's inspiration that brings it about. Maybe your child begs you to quit smoking, or you read a book that touches your psyche. Perhaps someone you know struggled and conquered a similar problem and you realized that, yes, you could do that too.
The second situation is more familiar -- people reach the point of being, as Meredith describes it, "at their wit's end" at hanging on to a problem. This explains why many people find it takes four or five attempts to quit smoking. They reach the point of becoming so sick of a habit they know is killing them that they reach their wit's end --- their brain screams "enough," and at last they get the click.
The third reason is also the most common one -- life delivers a blow or a dilemma you can neither deny nor run from and so you must respond. You have a heart attack and must lose weight. Your boss informs you that a bad habit is threatening your job. Your spouse warns that a divorce may lie ahead. Whatever the occurrence, it genuinely scares you enough to put a critical mass of energy in motion and get you started in pursuit of a better way.

If life doesn't deliver you a blow, there are things you can do that will stimulate the emergence of a click and, in turn, a change in behavior, says Meredith. To help you get to the point of asking "haven't I had enough of myself?", put the following questions to the test...
What impact am I having or what's the impact on me and on others regarding the current situation? Write this out. For example -- if you get angry, you need to see that you're no fun to be with, and even worse, you're righteous about your opinion. Do you really have to ruin your mood and everyone else's mood to make your point? It really is emotionally upsetting to all involved to hold onto the "bad" behavior.
What benefit do I gain from my "bad" behavior? Consider whether the bad behavior is protecting you from confronting a challenge. Or, is it making you feel better? Making you feel loved? Write it all out to get to the bottom of it.
Who are the people I surround myself with? Spending time with people who are in the same negative place as you have been and people who are using the same excuses for being there is holding you back.
What people are having the kind of life I would like for myself? Find these people and surround yourself with them -- it is a powerful way to reinforce your belief that this is possible and it will provide a behavior for you to model.
Are the thoughts that stream through my mind a running litany of excuses that hold me back? You're justified to be angry... you need the ice cream to feel better... you can't quit smoking, you've tried before. These are all examples of lies. Catch them as they surface and refuse to let them remain in your mind to nag at your new beliefs.

The good news is that once you have that click and start on your way, your new path is clear and the "old behavior" no longer nags at you. This is because the click shifted your energy and it is now in a place to keep you moving forward. Meredith does caution about one thing, though. If you fall down on your new standards now and then, don't waste time feeling bad about it. Feeling bad is a trap, she warns, because it allows you to pretend you were not in charge of the choice. Instead, be proud that you're working on this area, that you're catching yourself when you fail, and remind yourself of the thinking that gave you the click in the first place. Then get back to work."

1 comment:

Jane said...

Great article that everyone can relate to in one way or another!