How can I fix this problem? How can I make the issue (the pain) go away? Tell me what to do!
These are common questions I hear from clients who have identified something they want to change, such as bad habits, core patterns, or unconscious fears. “Now that I see it,” they ask, “how can I make it stop?”
There are two important powers required for personal change. They are:
The power to Notice
The power to Choose
First, you have to catch yourself in the act. To do that, you must be on the lookout – constantly. The power to change begins with your ability to notice. Then, once you notice, you must stop doing that thing. Easier said than done at first.
The more you practice noticing, the more you discover new options, new solutions, new thoughts, feelings, behaviors. That’s when the power to choose enters the picture. In order to cause change, you must make different choices.
**Transformation happens when you apply your awareness.**
As an example, let’s look at a common issue: Fear of Rejection.
Prepare: It’s a good idea to give yourself a list of things to look for. What are the symptoms and clues of your unconscious fear? Some options to consider:
- People pleasing – if I’m nice enough, maybe you won’t reject me
- Proving – if I’m good enough, smart enough, ________ enough …
- Clinging – if I hold on tight enough …
- Behaving – if I am perfect, if I “behave” (act right, talk right, dress right, etc.) …
- Rejecting – if I reject you, then you can’t reject me
Notice: Be on the lookout for your identified symptoms/clues. When do they show up? How often? What triggers them? What do you do, feel, think when triggered? Are there others?
Explore: The deeper your understanding of the issue, the more authority you have over changing it. What is the fear telling you? What is there to know about it? Remembering that Pain is Medicine, how is this part of your growth? Our issues are the enemy of true power. At the same time, they are access to power as we learn to overcome them.
Options: Look for new solutions. Ask yourself, “If I could get beyond my usual reaction, how else would I handle this? What other options are there?” or “If I had self-certainty, how would I respond?” or “If I trusted that this person were not out to get me, then what would I do/say?” Come up with as many options as you can. Use your imagination. Get help when needed.
Choose: Once you have determined appropriate options, start acting on them. Try them on to see what happens, what you learn, how you grow. Get support to help build the strength to do what might be difficult at first. For example, those with a fear of rejection often have a hard time setting boundaries – people-pleasing sets in and self-care goes away. External support can make new choices easier to act on.
There are a myriad of things we must address in order to grow into the full potential of our personal power. Examples:
Bad habits: complaining, codependence, perfectionism, taking things personally, awfulizing
Core patterns: guilt, shame, lack of self-confidence, self-esteem, self-certainty – all lead to emotional reactions. No power in that.
Unconscious fears: rejection, abandonment, failure, criticism, being unlovable
Every time we repeat old programming, we reinforce it. Many are ingrained, having been around for a long, long time. In order to change, we must train ourselves to choose differently. Training takes time and practice. The deeper the pattern, the more practice required. You will have good days and bad days. Keep going!
We live in a world that frowns on failure. This attitude thwarts growth. I give you permission to fail!! We don’t learn to walk without falling down a few times. In the process of change, passing and failing doesn’t matter. Intent does. Your determination, persistence, and whole-hearted intent to improve is your access to personal power, inner authority, joy, freedom.
Last point: It is possible to change. If you find yourself stuck, it is probably a matter of something you’re not seeing, or choices you haven’t defined yet or have not built the strength to act on. Keep looking, keep practicing, keep going, keep growing!