One of the reasons I am passionate about my work is seeing the positive and lasting impact counselling can have on people’s lives. But the idea of making changes can feel like stepping into the unknown, scary, impossible or painful. In this article, guest author Carla Howell explores her thoughts on the mindset of change.
The path to Transformation
Where do we start when we want to make a change?
Life can feel out of our control sometimes. When lots of difficult things happen in our lives, it can make us feel powerless. We might feel like there is nothing we can do to change our situation.
In this article, I’m going to explore the key principles of transformation. Steps you can take even when everything seems too difficult and you don’t know where to start.
And here’s the key piece: transformation starts with you.
Our problems are our perception.
The lens through which we see the world is the way in which we experience the world. For example, an optimist will see the world as a place of wonder and opportunity, whereas a pessimist will see the world as a cruel and hard place. We may not be able to control what happens in our lives but we can control our own thoughts and what we choose to place our attention on. If we focus primarily on the bad things in our life, we are more likely to feel negatively towards our life. Whereas if we can find the good things and the silver linings to be grateful for, these positive thoughts will give us small boosts throughout the day, and will lead to us feeling more positive.
1. Victim vs Creator.
Are you the victim of your life or the creator of your life? There’s a subtle difference between these two things. A victim feels like life happens TO them, that they are just a small boat in a large and stormy ocean, with no control over their direction or destination. Whereas a creator knows that they shape their lives with the choices they make. Life happens FOR them. Every event is an opportunity to make a choice which will lead to personal and spiritual growth. Every choice they make will either take them closer or further away from the life they want to lead. In every situation, there is always a choice.
2. Reacting vs responding
When we react to a situation, we are acting from a place of habit and doing things the way we’ve always done them. We are operating from our unconscious mind – the short cuts that our brain puts in place to make our life easier. Sometimes this is useful; we can clean our teeth, make our breakfast and even drive home without having to think much about it. However, it may not be useful in other situations when we are acting out unhelpful repeating behaviors. Maybe we always get angry and blow up in disagreements. Or we always feel awkward and uncomfortable in new social situations. Or we can’t seem to stick to a diet or exercise plan. Reacting from our unconscious mind bypasses the power of CHOICE – the choice of how we want to behave or feel in that moment. Compare this to responding. When we respond to a situation, we are using the information available to in that present moment to make a conscious decision about how we choose to behave or feel. For example, ‘I’m in a disagreement but ultimately my goal is to come to an agreement, so I’m going to listen and try to understand where this person is coming from instead of getting angry’.
3. Don’t settle for ‘good enough’.
Are you happy with your life? Or do you feel like you’re just getting by? Let me tell you something; a life full of love, joy and fulfillment is accessible to everyone. Life isn’t always smooth sailing, that’s true. But you never have to settle for a life that you don’t want. You are the master of your own ship, that the moment you decide to take charge, that’s when the magic happens. It all starts with you. You may not be able to control your external circumstances, but you can choose the way you respond to and feel about them. And by taking more productive and constructive actions, slowly but surely you start to take steps in the direction of positive change. It might seem a little overwhelming and first and you might not know where to start. But just trust that once you’ve made the decision to make a change, the ball will start rolling. There are people who can support you with this too and counselling is a great place to start.