I’m certain that navigating change is one of the most important skills we can sharpen in our lives. You don’t know where changes will take you, but when you allow change and when you notice what the change brings up for you emotionally, you can learn so much about yourself.
Resisting change is a sure-fire way to create difficulty in your life. You might even develop a pattern of actively fighting or arguing against a change. When you do this, you will believe your excuses and all your reasons (or other people’s reasons) why you can’t have exactly what you want.
“Everything changes and nothing remains still;
and you cannot step twice into the same stream.” - Heraclitus
So how can we commit to change? That was certainly one of my big questions as I entered recovery from compulsive gambling and now also every single time I set a new goal for myself.
I didn't want to quit gambling. I had to quit gambling. It was ruining my life. I had to commit to this change if I wanted any chance of creating a new reality.
Since quitting gambling, I've created a lot of change on purpose in my life using journaling, daily reflection and action planning. Now whenever change is happening to me without and I find myself fighting against it or when I'm struggling to get committed to a goal the steps listed below help me either accept the change or get committed to the goal. There's also a few books I found helpful in learning more about change and an inspirational video about change from goal cast.
Your mind has all the answers you need if you take the time to listen to what it is saying to you. More often than not we don't slow down long enough to listen to ourselves. If we are going to commit to change we have to explore what is going on in there in order to know what we need to work on. Grab a notebook or a tape recorder and just dump out your mind. Ask yourself "Why don't I want to do this?"
Look back at your writing or listen to what you recorded and list categorize your thoughts that showed up for you into three categories.
It will help you move towards the change and closer to either accepting the change or achieving your goal
It will move you away from the change, create obstacles to achieving your goal, or resistance to accepting the change
It is nuetral towards the change thinking this will neither move you forward or away from the change
Think back to a time in your life when you were thrilled about a change or you knocked a goal out of the park. What thoughts and feelings were present at that time? How come that change was exciting? What emotion fueled you staying committed to your goal or excited about that change?
When you compare the way you were thinking and feeling in during a change you thought was good to a change you are having a hard time creating or accepting now you will see big differences in your thoughts and feelings.
You've exposed yourself to how you are thinking by doing the writing exercise. You understand what thoughts and feelings are going to pull you away from this change. Now it's time to come up with ways to shift your thoughts about this change. Your brain is going to keep on throwing those same thoughts at you. The difference now is that you are aware of them and you can begin to talk yourself into a new way of thinking.
Decide ahead of time how you want to respond when your mind offers you an obstacle thought. When quitting gambling, one of my biggest obstacle thoughts was "I don't want to quit gambling." Of course when I focused on that thought my mind remembered of all the wins, all the fun times at the poker table, all the people I liked to see when I visited my favorite casinos. I had to learn how to believe "I want to quit gambling." I partially believed that I wanted to quit gambling but every time I tried to focus on that my mind kept going back to "I don't want to quit." I could not leap from one thought the to other. I had to create a bridge. I had to look for other thoughts that I did believe or kind of believe were true and respond with them every time my mind said it didn't want to quit.
Look at your list of thoughts about this change that will move you towards it and every time an obstacle thought comes up, tell your self "yes that's true AND I also........"
This was one of my talks with myself
"I don't want to quit gambling!!!" "That's true AND gambling is also really my financial goals right now. Maybe I don't have to quit. Maybe I could gamble in the future but not right now. Just for today..."
Our minds love proof! Proof that we are right. When we think something, our mind goes looking for all the evidence that we are correct. If we have a thought like "I don't want to do this" our brain looks for all the reasons why that is true. If we want to begin to believe "I can live with this change" we have to show our minds on purpose that we can live with the change.
I had plenty of proof that gambling was hurting my financial goals right now. I had not consciously thought about how bad until I was out of money and ways to get it because I was on freaking autopilot spending every penny I'd ever earned and many more.
Keep on going taking one new way of thinking, one baby step at a time, one bit of evidence at a time.
I haven't placed a bet in over six years. I'm pretty proud of that change. One day at a time and one thought at a time I went from believing "I don't want to quit gambling" to "I never want to gamble again."
This episode is about committing to change.
And this one talks about our emotional response to change.