Creative Approaches to Personal Change

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This short article, written in a free form, conversational style may help give you a bit of a friendly nudge in the direction of where you want to go…

Some questions…

What if doing what you’ve always done will get you what you’ve always got ?

What if managing your life more effectively means that you have to change ?
What if in pressing too hard for change in your life you generate the resistance that stops it happening ?

Who am I ?
I am many things. Sometimes happy, sometimes unhappy. I am a person. I am a job. I am a feeling or many feelings. I am a wish or a fear. I am angry, I am excited. I am hoping or resisting.

“We are both angel and devil, saint and sinner; we are double, both light and shade”

I often put on an act in public. I pretend to be strong when I am weak inside. I say I am ‘OK’ when really I am not OK at all. I laugh when I don’t find it funny, or I hold myself serious when I really want to laugh. If I do this too often, very soon I can become very good at leading my ‘double life’. In fact, if I become too good at it, soon I can forget who I really am. And I can start to become my double, to confuse my real self with it.

Try to observe any ‘double’ behaviour. Practice saying or feeling how you really feel. Note how you feel inside when you are truly yourself. How does your language change ? Your body language ? Your mannerisms ? Do you feel good or bad about yourself ? What double behaviours help or hinder you in life ? Which are constructive and which are destructive?

Double behaviour can become a habit. We identify ourselves so much with the habit that the habit becomes something we wear like a costume; only these costumes become hard to take off.
I pick my nose
I smoke too much
I always switch the TV on when I get home from work
I hate skimmed milk
I never talk about myself.

Habits can turn us into machines, churning out the same actions and reactions, as soon as we are triggered from outside. Some habits can be good for us:

I always make a habit of smiling at myself in the mirror before I go to bed.
I’ve made it a habit to really taste my food at dinner times.

Some habits can be destructive and really turn us into machines:

“I need my cigarettes.”
“I seem to say “know what I mean” in every sentence I utter – know what I mean ?”

Many of the things we wish to change in our lives involve recognising and breaking habits which have fixed us in certain repetitive behaviours. Younger people are becoming fixed in their attitudes and behaviours at ever younger ages!

One of the biggest barriers to changing ourselves is the noise that surrounds us, that distracts us. For many living in towns and cities this noise is an assault of music, pictures, voices, electronic and mechanical sounds from all sides. For others the noise is people and what they are saying to us – the same old record ! The same old…

I am watching the ducks swimming serenely across the pond in the park. It is so peaceful, so relaxing. My mind is clear. Suddenly the sound of a personal stereo drifts past, breaking the silence. I sit up, edgy.

I sit quietly at the desk, thinking, wrestling with a problem. I need all my concentration to work out the solution. Creeping into my mind come the thoughts, the thought of that argument last night. It invades, crawls in. My thoughts drift off as I replay the argument, start to feel guilty, feel regret. I can’t concentrate on the problem I was working on…my past is catching up with me …!
The noise !

THE NOISE !
Noise can be physical or mental. It can be the sound of a car, or bad memories which we haven’t really shifted.
Where is the noise in your life ?
What are the major sources ?
How can noise be reduced ?

I changed my pillows and it changed my life.!
Now I realise, I need to change my pillows regularly. At last – peaceful sleep !

My desk faces the wall. It’s so depressing. Now I’ve moved it by the window. What a view !

Change isn’t easy but it is a powerful key to unlocking the doors of the future, to excitement and the real adventure of life:
She saw a strange small bottle. It had a label on it. It said “Drink me”

“One way to get high blood pressure is to go mountain climbing over molehills.”

“Bad is never good until worse happens”

What kind of change do you want to make in your life ?

Take a look at the sky. Look at the cloud formation, the colours etc. Observe the movement of clouds across the sky. See what you can observe about the changes taking place each second. On a clear, calm day, when there is little wind force, the changes may be barely perceptible. On a windy or stormy day, change will be easier to see.
But change is always taking place.

Try to form a clear image of the cloud formation in your mind. Remember it as clearly as possible. Then, the next day, do the same.

What has changed in the sky ?
What similarities are there to yesterday?
What differences ?

You can try this with many objects of observation. The important thing is to focus on the change that has taken place. The transformation of the situation. You may also find that such an exercise sharpens your observation and clarity.
It is a good exercise for observing change and for heightening your sensitivity to change. Goethe could do this so well that he was well known for an uncanny ability to accurately predict the weather just by looking at the sky

A man falls down a hole. Ouch ! The First response is to say: Well I’ll avoid that hole in future…and that one…and that one!” The Second response may also be to avoid falling down holes but will also “double the loop” of learning by asking “Why is that hole there? What leads to hole formation ? How can holes be made useful ?”
And so on!

How often do you fall down the holes of life,  climb out, shake yourself down and then move forward only to fall down another hole ?
How do you learn positively from the experience ?

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Avoiding change by living a comfortably with security and no-change as your watchwords, avoiding risk or challenge is one strategy for getting through life. For many it simply isn’t enough.

Why am I here ?
What am I supposed to be doing with my life ?
Where am I going to and where did I come from ?

Often the hardest thing about changing is to admit to ourselves of the need to change in the first place.

When crisis hits, I curl up into a ball. I close myself off. I deny the crisis. It has to be really bad before I wake up to the need to change !

You can increase your receptivity to change when…

* you believe in yourself
* you are open to new ideas
* you are an active listener
* you discuss ideas with peers and friends
* you take a deep interest in the world around you
* you seek ideas from everyone – yes, everyone
* you bring conflicts and hidden fears out into the open
* there are people in your life you can really trust
* you are willing to change your behaviour
* an attitude of continuing improvement to life is adopted
* you respect the views of others
* you celebrate success
* you welcome and embrace change
How receptive are you to change ? Really ?

I want to be an astronaut. A juggler ! A sculptor ! I want to work with people, I want to be a healer ! A footballer ! A politician ! I want to be a missionary ! I want to be, I want to be…

Where are you heading ?
Are you heading in the right direction ?

“25 years ago I was a student. I will always be a student”
Luciano Pavarotti, opera tenor

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”
Eleanor Roosevelt

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.”
Helen Keller

“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way to come downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.”
A.A.Milne

Looking ahead may involve letting go of the past. That isn’t easy but it may be necessary. You may need to focus for a while on the doors ahead of you not the ones behind.

For many people, change is hard to think about in their current environments. The four walls surrounding them, the wallpaper and pictures all speak of “past, past and past”. Part of the break away from the past can be a physical break away, at least for a short while, from the day-to-day environment. A walk in the woods, a holiday, a party.

What have been the major changes in your life ?
What from the past is holding you back ?
Do you welcome change or do you try to avoid it ?
If you could change one thing about yourself tomorrow, what would it be?
Where can you go that is away from your current day-to-day
environment to think about these questions ?

For many people change takes place in stages, a bit like chapters in a book. Like a good, book, structuring change can help you to find your way through what sometimes may seem like an endless, dangerous jungle !

How I need to change !
I wish it were easy but it isn’t.
Maybe tomorrow. Yes tomorrow.

But what is it that really needs to change ? Is it you, or the people around you ? Or should you just get out of the situation as soon as possible ?
There are basically three ways to deal with a need for change

1. Change Yourself
2. Change the Situation
3. Leave the Situation

Oh, and of course, you can always fester and do nothing.
Are you treating the Symptoms or Causes ?

A man goes to the doctor, complaining of having difficulty sleeping. The doctor asks a few questions and then prescribes sleeping pills. The man goes away and soon finds the sleeping pills don’t work very well.
Frustrated with the first doctor, the man approaches another doctor. This doctor asks a lot of questions and after detailed analysis discovers that the man has a poor diet. She prescribes a complete diet change and regular fresh air. The result is positive, in fact, the man sleeps even less now.

Are you looking at symptoms or the real
deeper causes of the problems in your life?

Or is your approach to change the real problem ?

To change your life successfully will require some creativity. Part of that will involve taking a new and fresh look at yourself and the world around you. This involves developing a new habit, a positive one, called “creativeness”.

“We in the west think of creativity rather than creativeness – we immediately seek results rather than seeking to be the kind of people who achieve them, which is putting the cart before the horse. We look for something which can be measured and therefore controlled. Creativity is just such as measurable quantity, whereas creativeness is not. It is a quality of the person.”

Creativeness is something entirely natural, like the growth of a tree. And just because it is natural, there is no way in which we can dominate and command it.

Followers of the Zen Approach to change:

* develop greater awareness of situations and problems, viewing them with bare attention. In this way they will be seen with clarity.

* look at situations with sincerity. This means recognising and admitting to yourself your own involvement

* having observed the problem in this way, do not put it on one side, but bear it in mind for however long is necessary.

* know that eventually a solution will occur, taking care to notice the intuitive signals, whatever these happen to be

* look at the solution they have discovered with clear comprehension of purpose and suitability. Not all intuitive and creative ideas are necessarily right or practicable.

* and finally, act.

Changing can be an adventure and fun. Some adventures are dangerous but also exciting. Some lead to treasure !

Questions are a powerful tool for planning and managing change in your life. But questions need answers. The time comes to take a break from asking and to get down to work.

What would you like to change in your life today ?

Do it now.
Do it – NOW !


Visit the Personal Development Zone

 


Visit the Change Management Zone

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