Friday, January 31, 2014

Changes Are Not Made in One Day

Today is Friday, January 31, 2014.

We are born in one day.  We die in one day.  We can change in one day.  And we can fall in love in one day.  Anything can happen in just one day. 

I disagree.

Sure, it appears that we do all these things in one day, but if you think about it there's always some kind of preparation period, even for death.  I do agree that these things seem to happen in a moment, but that moment is actually the culmination of a process.

It's  easy to see this with birth.  We don't just pop out of our mother's body one fine day without warning. There are at least 40 weeks of physical preparation, as well as mental and emotional preparation before the baby arrives.  Those who have had out-of-body experiences or regression hypnotherapy sessions tell us that the incoming Soul also has a period of preparation before the physical birth. 

If you want to be technical, all of life is a process of dying.  Those who live into old age notice a more conscious process of preparation for death, and employees of seniors homes and hospices notice a well-defined progression of experiences that signal a person is getting ready to leave physical experience.

With changes, as well, but there is always some underlying preparation for the change, whether we are aware of it or not, and many times we are not.  There is often a change of consciousness that precedes a physical, mental or emotional change.  The "moment" that we notice the change is, once again, the culminating point not the beginning, of the process.  Many times we never even notice our own change until someone who is not with us daily encounters us and remarks on the difference.

Even if you think you fell in love at first sight, I suspect that you went through some sort of process before you met your true love, so that the actual meeting was a culmination of the change process.  It may be that both of you went through a process on your own before you met.   If it was not love at first sight, there was a gradual process in which your perception of the person changes from "friend" to "potential lover." 

The key, I think, is to become more aware of these changes as they are taking place.  In fact, I think we can even be pro-active and create changes within ourselves on purpose, in a conscious, directed way.  There are lots of things that go in to the making of a change.  

Psychologists have noticed patterns in conscious change,  There are five stages and ten processes.  

Stage One:  thinking about making a change.  At this stage, we may be uncomfortable with the way things are, or aware that our current behavior or attitudes are unsuitable or counterproductive.

Stage Two: weighing the pros and cons of a specific change.  Some people just think this through, while others make specific lists.

Stage Three: planning to make the change.  Here we specifically decide to make the change and figure out how it is to be accomplished.  We may also set a start and end date for the change or a specific, measurable goal to accomplish.

Stage Four: implementing plans for the change.  We take specific action, such as joining a health club or weight-loss program, taking a class, or investing in some equipment that will help facilitate the change.

Stage Five: maintaining the change.  We figure out how to keep on keeping on without backsliding to the way things were before.

Psychologists have also identified ten processes of change.

Processes in Stages One through Three
1.  Get all the information you need about the change.  If you're moving to a new location, what is the job situation like?  How about the housing market?  What neighborhoods are good to live in?  What lifestyle options does the new location offer?   If you're losing weight, what methods have a proven track record of success for people like you?  How much time, effort and money are you willing to spend to achieve this change?

2.  Recognize and express your feelings.  Are you scared, nervous, or resentful of having to change?  Let it all hang out.  What's the worst possible scenario?  What could go wrong?  Why are you resisting the change?   Get to the bottom of your feelings, because if you don't, they will derail your progress.

3.  Evaluate how the change will affect your life in general.  What will your life be like during and after the change?  Will you have to make other, related changes to support that main change you are trying to achieve? How will the change benefit you?

4.  Evaluate how the change will affect people around you.  How will people react to your changes, and how might your changes force others to change?  Remember that you do not live in a vacuum, and there is always a ripple effect.

5.  Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses with respect to the change. What qualities in your personality will make it easy or difficult for you to make this change?  Do you have the strength, tenacity, humility, courage, or work ethic to achieve your goal?  What might derail your plans?  Are you stubborn, impatient, pessimistic, or lacking self-confidence? 

Processes in Stages Four and Five

6.  Develop support relationships.  Find a teacher, tutor, or buddy.  Tell your plans to someone who will help keep you accountable for your change.  Find people who will encourage you and not enable you to quit easily.

7.  Change your thinking/beliefs/attitudes.  This will involve getting into your subconscious to see how your current beliefs and self-talk may have caused you to fail in the past.  You may also have to deal with fears that were hidden and which have been re-activated now that you are involved in the change process.

8.  Find ways to reward yourself.  Your reward doesn't have to be food, and it doesn't have to cost a lot of money.  You may have a mutual agreement to provide rewards for another person, who will do the same for you. 

9.  Avoid negativity.  Be gentle with yourself.  Allow yourself to start over, or start again if you fall off the wagon.  Find ways to achieve small, incremental goals in order not to get bogged down in negative thinking.

10.  Have a maintenance plan.  How will you ensure that the change you have made is permanent?  Remember that you will not be able to go back to the way things were!  

Best wishes.  :-)

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