I recently watched a TV program about the ancestry of humanity. Ancient man to modern man. Neanderthal’s supposedly became extinct because they did not adjust to a global shift in temperatures and hence the requirements of different ways of gathering food, making shelter and clothing and moving about the landscape. They were stuck in old habits. Modern man however (homo sapien) learnt from trial and error, adjusted behaviours and flourished. Adaptability is a hallmark of our species survival. This got me reflecting upon our individual capacity to make necessary changes in our lives.
When I graduated from the first of my holistic therapies studies I was advised about the do’s and dont’s of marketing. ‘NEVER write that you will help some-one to change on your flyers.’ That seemed a bit perplexing? Isn’t that a vital part of what we do? People come along for various therapies because some part of their world is not working. They need to change….right? ‘Yeah, but don’t tell them that because it scares them,’ was the response. People like to cling onto their ways of doing things and the idea of change often conjures up ideas of difficulty, deprivation, too hard, uncomfortable etc. Use different words other than change; achieve goals, find empowerment, create new habits……… As time has gone by I have discovered that this is true. No matter how uncomfortable we may already feel in a difficult situation it’s a strange kind of known and the alternative can feel even more scary.
Test this for yourself. If I was to ask you what you could do for yourself to further enhance your health and gave you the following parameters. Look at your diet, (your weight) your exercise habits, your stress levels, any addictions, your personal relationship, your work, your sleep patterns, managing a chronic illness, parenting, supporting a family member with disability etc. Are there things that you could feasibly do to support a healthier version of yourself? Starting with 1 thing? In the vast majority of cases the answer is yes. OK, so does this information feel inspiring and uplifting and you can’t wait to get started or does it create a sinking sensation in your tummy that is distinctly uncomfortable? Perhaps it’s a mix of emotions. For some, the perceived degree of difficulty in making the change is often the factor in whether your behaviours are modified.
More cardiovascular exercise! Those three words are enough to challenge this blog writer. There is a commitment to continually working on my health so that I can be as well as possible. Changes made in recent years have been substantial, but there are still areas that I find blocks. My stories start to arise…… Not enough time… can’t be bothered today…… I’ll just go for a walk today instead….it hurts too much….I’ll start next week…the weather is not conducive…..I’ll start next holidays….. It’s a block, a story. I need to go in and find the core of the story and diffuse it. The essence of my block is the idea that cardiovascular exercise is uncomfortable. Having to strain and puff and expend lots of energy. For part of me that is a truth. For other parts it’s a barrier to a fitter, healthier version of self. In the beginning, there will probably be some discomfort. So? If I can face up to this discomfort and get past the limiting stories I get to be a stronger version of myself. Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. I know this from other things that I have overcome. The sense of achievement in knowing that you can rise above challenges becomes a type of self perpetuating power. Wow. I feel amazing! What next?
The key here is around where you send you focus. Will you decide to focus on the sense of lack and difficulty (it hurts, I’ll do it tomorrow) or on the benefits (stronger, healthier, more vital and alive. Able to take on more things I want to do with increased energy) It boils down to a choice. Can I find adaptability with my thinking on this topic? Or will I steadfastly hold onto the lesser idea that it hurts and defer all action? Pain is often a precursor to personal growth. Eventually pain can be experienced as a passing phenomenon that is a useful teacher. Apparently is takes about 21 days to develop a new habit. 21 days to make a shift in a mental belief, that then flows onto physical action, that then flows on to emotional feedback. In my case, starting to love the feelings of exertion on the push bike. Fitter, healthier, more alive. Yay! See you later, I’m off to ride my bike.
What is your relationship to change?