In my previous two articles, I wrote about trauma with a little ‘t’ (Part 1 and Part 2) explaining how the build-up of small rejections and disappointments as children can often negatively affect us in adulthood.
In Part 2, I promised to outline my three-step process to identify and change the things from our past that may be holding us back. However, before I explain my strategy, I must point out that THERE’S NO MAGIC BULLET to changing your life. Anyone who tries to sell you some ‘quick fix’ programme, is lying!
Although the three-step process I use is relatively easy, it does take time, effort, action and persistence and consistency to see results. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut to what’s often referred to as ‘doing the work’.
1. Take responsibility
So many people blame others for their lives, whether that’s their spouse, children, parents, government, employer, etc. However, YOU are the common denominator in your life.
Have you ever noticed that whenever there’s a problem, you’re there?!
When working with some clients, the realisation that they are responsible for both their successes and failures can hit hard – I know it did for me when I finally made this distinction. After all, it’s much easier to blame someone or something else. However, once we take ownership of our current circumstances, we can begin to make radical progress.
So, take a close look at where you are today. Do an inventory of everything, from your thoughts and behaviours to your relationships, work, health, fitness and finances. Everything you have in your life today (good or bad) results from your past thoughts, feelings, behaviours and ultimately, the actions you have or haven’t taken.
2. Identify what isn’t working
We can’t change that of which we aren’t aware!
I recommend sitting down with a pad and pen (we remember 700% more of what we physically write) and getting clear on what isn’t working for you and being brutely honest about why. This may not be easy and you will have to dig deep (you may even want to do this with a coach or therapist).
- What’s holding me back?
- Where do my thoughts or limiting beliefs originate?
- Is that thought/belief true?
- How do I know it’s true (what evidence do I have)? (Head’s up here, you probably won’t have any!)
- What’s a better, more realistic thought?
- What evidence do I have for the ‘new’ thought?
This exercise is not something you can rush. I suggest carving some quality time out in your diary. Put on some calming music, pour yourself your favourite drink, take some deep breaths before you start, relax and go with the flow writing down anything that comes up.
3. Actively decide to do something different and take consistent action
The ONLY way your life will change is by taking consistent repeated action; doing more of what’s working and less of what’s not. It seems obvious, and yet many of us find it incredibly difficult to do something different with the consistency necessary for change. Remember, it takes up to 254 days to create a habit – you can read my article on habit creation here.
I’m always amazed when I hear people complain about the same things repeatedly, but they don’t or aren’t willing to do anything different – even when they know precisely what they should be doing.
Such behaviour is often based in attention-seeking often an adaptive behaviour from childhood. For example, if a person complains about their current circumstances, people give them attention; if they solve their problems that attentiveness will likely stop. So, in such cases, the benefit of changing is outweighed by the unconscious need for attention. In NLP, we call this ‘secondary gain’.
N.B. Keep tracking your results – if they aren’t what you had hoped, you may need to take different action. Some things will work, others won’t. The most successful people I’ve studied and worked with have had so many failures it would make your head spin! But they learn from their mistakes, adjust their course and keep on going.
It’s probably pertinent to use Einstein’s definition here: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I also love:
Always do what you’ve always done; always get what you’ve always got.
In summary, nothing will change until you do; until you DECIDE to do something different. Not everything will work, but that’s OK. Try something else. If that doesn’t work, try something else and keep trying until you find something that does. If it helps, do a reframe and see your efforts as an experiment on what works for you and what doesn’t.
If you’re struggling with anything I’ve written here, I highly recommend getting yourself a coach or therapist who will support you with tools, advice and guidance to help you through. I also have lots of information, practical tools and guidance on my website jobanks.netincluding lots of free resources.
Finally, I know this can be tough to hear, but no one is coming to save you! Things CAN change and improve – your past does not have to equal your future – I’m a testament that! It might take a while (we are all a work in progress), but you have to take responsibility for your life and that includes taking action even when it’s uncomfortable. Life has a way of showing us where we are not yet healed.