Many people want to make changes in their lives. It is obviously something very close to our heart because millions of people are making it their business to help others change: consultants, coaches, trainers, advisers and therapists, to name just a few. Change can have many faces, but no matter what change people aim for, it’s always a difficult process – at least that is the commonly accepted view-point.
All throughout my life I have worked and been with many men and women who were desperate to change. They hated almost everything about themselves: the way they felt, the way they looked, their health, their behaviours, their thoughts, the way people treated them … the list could go on and on.
More often than not these people just couldn’t see what I saw: That they were nice, kind, caring people. The only thing that stood in their way of seeing what I saw, was their negative way of thinking about themselves.Years of habitual negative, critical thoughts about themselves and their behaviours. Most likely influenced by childhood experiences but nonetheless carried forward in life – indeed kept alive – by their own mental processes of thinking these negative thoughts over and over again.
The ‘traditional’ way of dealing with these situations is either to help a person to change the content of their thoughts or by exploring in-depth how childhood experiences have planted the seeds in the person’s head. Both approaches are fairly time-consuming and not that successful – I know that because I have been trained in traditional psychotherapy and worked for years according to these theories. If these theories were so effective, shouldn’t we have a planet full of blissfully happy inhabitants by now given the army of ‘change workers’ each day?
No matter how often I demonstrated to clients – with evidence – that they are likeable, good people with a good working brain and a good working heart, they never immediately slapped their forehead and said “Of course, you are right, thank you for helping me see it”. It often took year(s) for that shift to happen. These negative self-thoughts were like Kikuyu grass refusing to be eradicated.The traditional way of change appears to be more like ‘the tail wagging the dog’.
Let me propose a new model of change. Who says that change is hard work? Aren’t there plenty of examples of people having an insight, or at the snap of the finger making a fundamental change in their lives? When life’s challenges are serious enough people are capable of changing in an instant. Human beings are so incredibly adaptable that they will move towards their innate health and well-being when they are shown how to leave their thoughts ‘alone’.
Thoughts, of course, are just thoughts. Positive thoughts, negative thoughts, judgemental thoughts, critical thoughts are just thoughts. They are not real, they are just some arbitrary thoughts a person has about what they think is real. Thoughts about something or someone are just like a street map people have about the city they live in. Useful to help navigate your way around, but nonetheless a map of Auckland is not Auckland. It’s not the real thing.
A new model of change involves taking a leaf out of Eastern philosophical traditions and learning to take one’s thoughts and perceptions not so seriously. They are just thoughts, nothing more. Where the trouble begins is that thoughts (we have between 50 and 100 thousand conscious and unconscious thoughts each day) lead to feelings and the stronger the feelings are, people feel compelled to take them very serious and act on them.
A new model of change involves showing people that they have easy access to their wisdom when they take their upsetting thoughts and thus their upsetting feelings less serious. When they are in a calm, quiet mind, they have access to their wisdom, creativity, and good ideas to help them deal with any problems at hand. I have seen this change only take a split second. Change truly can be only one thought away!
If you curious about this model of change, contact me so that we can make a time to talk!