The Real Secret To Making Lasting Change... P.s It's Not What You Think
Change, how many things would you change about yourself if you could? In society of I want it now, and instant gratification, we often expect change to happen just like that.
Your probably not new to the saying, you can’t force change, but what does that actually mean and why not? Why is it that sometimes the more you try and change things the more things stay the same? Especially when it comes to changing things about ourselves
What I’ve learnt is this:
That by accepting where you are at right now and being yourself fully (even the parts you don’t think are great) is the best way to start creating the change you want.
It might not seem to make sense, but you see the thing with change, is that it’s paradoxical.
Let me explain….It’s called the paradoxical theory of change (PTC) and it’s generally the opposite of how we go about change in our culture and most other therapeutic approaches. The PTC proposes that the more we resist being who we are the more difficult change is to happen.
It’s only by being who we are FULLY and accepting ourselves completely that change starts to happen naturally.
The thing is, we often don’t have the support from others to accept where we are at here and now. I’m sure you can all relate to times where people just didn’t get what you were going through, told you that you needed to get your act together or just plain old didn’t support you in what was going on in your life.
Hey, they might not have even been out of line in doing so, but when we don’t have an opportunity to express ourselves as we are, and in a way that is authentic and aligned to who we are with support and without judgement, it’s not easy to change...Yet were expected to click our fingers and make change happen.
BUT THIS IS HOW CHANGE REALLY HAPPENS------->>>>>Change happens when we are able to accept ourselves and express ourselves MORE NOT LESS. when we express ourselves more, the feelings, beliefs and memories associated with the behaviour, pattern or responses we want to change will often come into our awareness.
BOOM ------>>>>With awareness and support we can then gain insight into why we have those behaviours, patterns or responses and work towards CHANGE.
Granted, it’s not as easy as just telling ourselves to accept who we are and where we are at. The problem is, our inner critic can start to interject throwing some negative curve balls into the mix. You know the thoughts I mean, they sound different for everyone but here’s a few you might be able to relate to: (I’ve put in brackets what those parts of yourself might be that you dislike or would like to change.)
- I’m not going to get angry ( anger)
- I should be more patient (impatience)
- I should be more compassionate (un-empathetic)
- I’m going to make sure I don’t get so emotional (sensitive)
- I should be more organized ( disorganized)
- I’m not going to feel sad again (sadness, depression)
- I shouldn’t take up too much attention ( extroverted/playful/outgoing)
- I’m should go to the gym more (tired/disinterested)
- I’m not going to let that hurt me again ( vulnerable)
Whatever those thoughts are for you, when we have these thoughts and want to change them we may either be in denial of having any of these behaviours, patterns or responses (eg. Anger - I never get angry!) And/or want to eradicate them because they are too difficult to accept (I don’t want others to know I can be like this/ this is not me).
These parts of ourselves aren’t bad or wrong; we just choose to make them wrong. Often these very behaviours we have that we want to change, also once served us or kept us safe. We need to respect that wisdom by accepting it first and then use acceptance and support to allow change to occur.
Here's what it looks like:
I’ll say it again, its all about acceptance. Practice learning to embrace those parts of yourself you want to change, with compassion. Those parts that we have decided to make not OK. It sounds contrary that to get the changes you want, you need to accept the parts that we don’t want, but this is crucial.
When we bring compassion and acceptance to who we are, we can acknowledge that as humans we have the capacity for amazing beauty, grace and love and we also have the capacity for destructive behaviours towards ourselves and others.
We can have compassion for ourselves by understanding that this is who I am in this moment – I may experience myself in this away again AND always in the present moment I have a choice.
When we can accept all parts of ourselves and know, hey this is a part of who I am and is part of me for a reason, we can then begin to look at how these parts impact each aspect of our life. Once we get comfortable with owing these parts of ourselves we can work towards a healthy integration of all parts resulting in more excitement, freedom and choice about how we use those behaviours, patterns or responses. The result = Living life creative and spontaneously.
And it is about choosing how to use those behaviours, patterns or responses. Getting appropriately pissed off or angry ( as an example) at someone when they cross a boundary is absolutely beneficial and justified. Having the ability to manage that anger in a way that is supportive and healthy for you – that’s what we’re talking about.
his brings me to my next point
We need to have enough support to be accepted for who we are rand for the changes we want to make. Support comes in various forms. The environment we are in, our family, friends, intimate partners, community, health professionals (hey that’s me) and ourselves. Not everyone or everything will be supportive of you. I can’t stress this point enough: BE CHOOSY.
Reach out to people you know will be supportive of you, people who have shown a good track record in supporting themselves and others. People that will encourage you to be the best version of yourself possible and will encourage you to do what feels right for you.
Seek professional help, find a psychotherapist or another mental health professional to do your work with. Developing awareness and taking the time to invest in personal development has so many benefits.
Therapy isn’t just about working on “issues”, in fact utilizing therapy as a tool to cultivate more awareness in our life means we can work towards our own growth and fulfillment in being able to live our best life and allow the changes to happen naturally rather than forcefully.
hope you have enjoyed this post on change. Feel free to get in touch or leave any comments.
Natajsa Wagner is a Masters qualified Psychotherapist based in Brisbane, Australia. Natajsa blends relational Gestlat methods, contemporary Psychotherapy and neuroscience practices in her work. Natajsa guides and mentors professionals in understanding themselves and their behaviour patterns so they can make more aligned choices in their life. Natajsa is thought leader and advocate for authentic human conversations and connection. She works experientially with individuals and groups to teach, that in a moment, we can create and experience more deeply satisfying connections with each other.
Her work offers an antidote to the modern day disease of disconnection.She invites others to create a ripple of connection in the world, so that we might all feel more intimacy, belonging and aliveness. Natajsa has been featured as an expert both locally and internationally and has contributed to a number of print and online media outlets including: Womens Health and Fitness Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine & ABC Online.