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Painfree Change: Is It Possible?

Apr 17, 2008
Whoever said it first was a genius: "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten." This is as truthful as it gets. Yet there are reasons why we follow the same path, make similar choices, and maintain familiar attitudes even when they are unconstructive. Here are the most common reasons:

1. What you're doing feels comfortable, reliable and safe.

2. There's less effort and stress in being as we've always been.

3. Unfamiliarity can be scary, difficult to manage, hard to explain to others, and can consume time and energy.

4. "It's not really so bad the way it is right now!"

For most people, these feel like good reasons for staying exactly as they are, doing what they do. It's hard to initiate change--especially our own. We can't access an outside point-of-view to assess the situation if our conversations about change-making take place entirely in our own minds.

There are two solutions. The first: get a trusted friend or advisor to be your source of near-objectivity (no human is completely objective, so get as close as you can).

The second answer is to do it yourself, using everything you've got to step outside yourself and look over the situation as objectively as possible.

I recommend a combination of both.

But here's the issue: Once you've mustered up the courage to uncover new ways of behaving and being that might be useful to you, how do you put them into action?

A coach can help you generate ideas, assess them, and develop a plan and a schedule to apply them. He or she can also help you establish accountability.

But there's something deeper here that needs to be addressed first, and on an ongoing basis.

It's at the very heart of all change-making:

Are you changing because you want to or because someone says you must?

Is the change a natural outgrowth of a changing work or social climate?

Must the change be immediate or might you "test then progress"?

A client I'll call Sue wanted to lose about sixty pounds. Her doctor was keen on the idea for health reasons, and she wanted to do if for appearance as well.

But Sue had spent her life being the funny fat girl, the kind sob sister who'd talk endlessly with you about your failed romances. Always interested, always available, and never a threat.

Then she began losing weight.

She had strong support from her friends--for a while. Until she became quite attractive. Now she was competition instead of the friend with no life of her own, deeply attuned to others' needs.

Whew. That change was enough to give everyone around her a case of metaphorical whiplash.

Did she lose some friends? Yes. Were they worth saving? Sue says no. Who wants friends who aren't supportive of positive change in one's life?

That's when Sue tried a very smart approach.

She intentionally met new people who fully expected her to have rich and fascinating life of her own. She picked up new hobbies and interests and new attitudes about herself. She became more interesting.

Within a year, two of her old friends came back. They accepted--and eventually, even rejoiced in--Sue's new way of being, and rejoined her in friendship. The others didn't matter.

She admits now that in her feelings of euphoria, she didn't do much to ease her old buddies into the idea of the new Sue. And, yes, she says, she could have.

Maybe even should have.

If she were to do it over again, she would.

If you are making a big switch in appearance, demeanor, or lifestyle, consider helping the valuable people in your life avoid shock. You're right: you shouldn't have to, but if you value them, it's a smart move that benefits you long term. Don't you agree? 2008 by Wendy Lapidus-Saltz. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Wendy Lapidus-Saltz is a mind coach specializing in smoking cessation, love attraction and career issues. She maintains a Chicago office and works with clients worldwide by phone, offering a free phone consult. To help decide how hypnosis can help you, reach her at ILAPSAL@aol.com or 312-640-1584. Websites: http://www.nonsmoker4life.com and http://www.hypno-attraction.com .
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