An event that occurs when something passes from one state or phase to another
A relational difference between states; especially between states before and after some event
The action of changing something The result of alteration or modification
A thing that is different
A difference that is usually pleasant
We all want to change, don’t we? We’re not happy with the way we look, we want to stop smoking, we want to be nicer to people, and we don’t want to be so selfish to people. We want to change because we are unhappy with the way we are.
I never wanted to change, I was happy the way I was; maybe a flatter stomach and bigger muscles would be nice, but that’s about all; and I couldn’t really be bothered to go to the gym. Well, saying that, I paid for many a gym subscription, but all in all, I just couldn’t be bothered. If it happened instantaneously, without any real commitment on my part, that would be fine, otherwise, if it happened, it happened. So invariably, my gym membership lapsed, and here I am again with the same “not quite flat” stomach. This has been going on for many years, and I doubt will ever change. Why? Because deep down I’m really not that bothered about my stomach.
It would be nice to look like a highly toned athlete, but it never ruined my chances with women, and nobody liked me any less, so it wasn’t high on my priority list.
That’s the thing with change, we want it to happen straight away or we lose interest. We think we “should” change; people tell us we “should” change; but unless we really want to change, it will never happen.
Should expresses an emotional, practical, or other reason for doing something “I drink too much. I should stop drinking.” “I eat too much junk food, I should eat more healthily.” “I get angry all the time, I should try to calm down.” “I should phone my mother more often.” “I should do my homework before watching tv.” “I should be more careful with my money.” “I should help out around the house more.” “I should pay my bills on time.”
Should. Probably one of the worst words in the dictionary. A word that defines what we think is expected of us, not what we really want to do.
Although, want (a specific feeling of desire) is a similar word. “I want to lose weight.” “I want to be nicer to my mother.” “I want to stop drinking.” “I want to be calmer.” “I want to pay my bills on time.” but… There’s always a “but” when we use the word want. “I want to go for a run today, but it’s a bit cold.” “I want to lose weight, but it’s so hard because I’m so busy at work” “I want to phone my mother more often, but I never get the time.” “I want to help about around the house more but I’m always so tired when I get home.” “I want to calm down, but everything makes me angry.”
So we’ve got a good selection of words here, haven’t we? Should, want and but. “I should lose weight. I want to lose weight, but I just can’t” or to put it another way, it’s what we ought to do, and what we would do if it wasn’t difficult, and finally the excuse for not doing it! It’s just all too difficult, isn’t it?
So what do we do? We buy self-help books from self-styled lifestyle gurus, personal growth coaches, diet experts, or psychologists trying to help you heal your “inner child.” We buy exercise dvd’s and audio books for relaxation and meditation; we attend yoga and tai-chi classes. We study spiritualism, turn to religion, have our chakras balanced; and we believe it when someone says in a book they will change our life in 7 days. When the first one doesn’t work, we try another. When the second one doesn’t work we try a third. When the third one doesn’t work, we try a fourth. We become addicted to finding the solution.
After all, if the diet guru has helped one million people to lose weight, or the addiction specialist has helped thousands back to sobriety, surely they must be able to help you? What about the hypnotherapist who has helped thousands of people to give up smoking, surely he must be able to help you? Or the religious guru, who has helped millions to find god and find peace in their lives? Surely someone must be able to help you?
The more you try and fail, the more despondent you become. You begin to think that no one can help you, and if these gurus have managed to help all these people, there must be something fundamentally wrong with you.
So what do you do? You give up trying and tell everybody “I’ve tried everything, but nothing works.”
How many people write books on change? There are thousands of books on the shelves at your local bookstore. They are not all bad; some offer great advice and insight. “Stop smoking TODAY!” “Change bad habits and turn them into profit!” “Don’t sell yourself short!” “Become more effective today!” “Stop procrastinating!” “Live life today, don’t wait for tomorrow!” “Become rich without trying!”
There are so many of these books now – change has become a billion-dollar industry. These aren’t bad people. They all have their own tips on life; they all want to help you change; they’re not tricking you, they’re just doing what everybody does; making a bit of money and offering you one word: Hope.
They are showing you that it is possible to change, but before you all run down to your local bookstores, and spend your hard earned money on these glossy paperbacks, let me ask you one question: Why do you think they are so popular? Think about that for a moment. Have you ever seen a self-help book, or programme that takes ten years to complete; or one that tells you that the chances of failure are high?
It’s all about now! The seven day program. The two week detox. Instant results! The self-help industry is based around our need to be changed instantly. We are too busy to change ourselves, and we don’t really want to; it’s all too much effort really! We would much prefer going to a doctor to receive a pill that helps us become a nicer person. “Here you are alan, take the green one first, that will give you a flatter stomach, and the red one will make you call your mother more often. All right? Next!”
We all like the result of change, because we like what people say about us, don’t we? “Oh, he’s a much nicer person now he’s stopped drinking so much.” “She looks so good now she’s lost some weight.” “He’s such a good boy now; he does all his homework straight after school.” “My wife’s so good now; she pays all the bills when they come in.” “He’s so good with money now, he’s saved up for a new car for us…”
It’s nice to be complemented on something good we have done, isn’t it? We like it when people notice our efforts, but there will always be some people saying “We never see him down the pub anymore, I don’t know what’s happened to him; he’s changed,” or “She’s no fun since she lost all that weight, all she cares about is her figure,” or “We can never play with him after school, he’s always rushing home to do his homework.” Seems you can’t win can you? You should stop drinking, but you’re no fun when you’re not drinking!
Some people like the change in you, and others just don’t like change, full stop. They don’t like that you have managed to change and they are still the same. They may feel jealous of you; they themselves may have tried to lose weight or cut down drinking but haven’t managed it, and for this, they criticise you in a round about fashion. “She’s no fun. The new clothes don’t suit her, she was much nicer before, I don’t like her much anymore.” In fact, what you really want to say is “I’m jealous she changed and I didn’t,” but are too afraid to.
But who are we changing for? Is it for ourselves, or is it for our family, friends, or our partners? We are certainly not changing for the benefit of mankind! It’s a lot closer to home than that. Who cares in africa that I am giving up smoking in america? Who cares in russia that I have lost weight in england? Answer: No one. They wouldn’t even care if you started doing charity work to help the needy, the only people that care are those closest to you. The ones who love you and care about you, and the ones whose opinions you value. You are changing to please these people, even if you don’t notice it yourself. If you were completely on your own, what would you change about yourself?
What if there was no one to see that you had lost weight, what would be the point in all that hard work?
What’s the point in coming home to do your homework straight away every night, if there’s no one to notice and say well done? Why would you change and pay your bills on time if you normally paid them late every month, and there was no one to hassle you? Why bother?
That’s why we want change to come easy; because we’re not doing it for ourselves most of the time.
“Everyone says I’m fat, and I can’t get a girlfriend, so I’m going to lose weight” not “I am aware that being overweight is dangerous to my health, so I will lose weight.” “My doctor says that if I don’t stop smoking I will die” not “I am aware that smoking is killing me, I find it harder to breathe every day, so I will stop right now!”
We change because other people make us aware of things we are either unaware or in denial of. The more we become aware of ourselves in action throughout the day, the more we can see behaviours which are not good for the well-being of the system, or behaviours that could be improved upon to help us interact with society more easily, and with less stress.
After all, none of us are perfect, nor will we ever be! The more awareness we have, the easier change becomes. It doesn’t even require a personal commitment to yourself; it doesn’t even require effort. It doesn’t need you to keep telling yourself to change. You don’t need to force yourself to change. You just need to see why.
Change is easy…
Of course it is. You are aware that something you do or say is not in the best interests of your system, and as an intelligent machine, able to modify its own behaviour instantaneously, that behaviour is modified to work in the best interests of the system. The end.
Having or showing knowledge or understanding or realisation or perception
“I am aware that drinking excess alcohol is not good for my health. I feel sick, I cannot think clearly. I fall out with people. I argue with my family. I fall over. I have no money. My job is suffering. So I will modify the behaviour that is not in the best interests of the system by abstaining from alcohol immediately.”
“I am aware that not paying my bills on time leads me to have higher stress levels, so in the best interests of my system, I will modify my behaviour by paying my bills immediately.”
“I am aware that by avoiding speaking with my mother, I make her upset. I am also aware that she will not always be around and that will make me sad. So in the best interests of my system, I will phone her immediately.”
Change cannot come as a result of outside pressure. Change is not something that can be planned over time. Change comes about from awareness; and once we are aware, we can change immediately. If you are putting change off, that’s a sure sign it’s actually a should or want to change, not an awareness that what you are doing is not in the best interests of the system.
I do not want to talk to you like they do in the self-help books, but you really can change, right now. Not because you should, not because you want to, but because you are aware. You are aware of the benefits of change, you can see how change will improve the quality of your life and, more often than not, improve the quality of the lives of the people around you. Real change can only come from inside each one of us.
We must be aware of something so strongly that we have no other choice but to change our behaviour or our thinking.
Up until now we have only discussed behaviour in our examples, but change comes from the mind; not from thought, but from awareness.
Change comes from the mind and can possibly stay in the mind, although it will probably have a knock on effect in the real world.
I don’t like fat people; I’m not going to invite that girl from work to my party.
She may be overweight, but I should try to understand why she eats so much, it may be a medical disorder, or maybe she has other problems I don’t know about.
She is a human being. I work with her; I will get to know her better.
Would you like to come to my party?
I know that’s a simplistic example, but it can be applied to any thought/change situation.
I hate black people. They sell drugs on the streets. They are responsible for crime. They don’t deserve to live in my country.
Why do I hate black people? I don’t know any, and as far as I know white people sell drugs and are responsible for crime. My hate is unjustified. I have never been hurt by a black man. They are citizens of the country, the same as I am.
A black man is a human being, the same as I am; I will stop judging them because of their skin colour. Everyone deserves to live on this earth. Not just me.
I won’t look for a black man to beat up after the pub tonight,
Take this and play with it on your own. Make up your own list. See how you can modify your thinking to modify your behaviour instantaneously. What could you change right now about yourself? Try it. It’s exciting to see your own mind in action!
This is only about you; you are not changing anything for anyone else, no one else even has to know. This is for you, and you alone. For the benefit of your system.
But straight away I can hear some of you saying “If it’s this easy, how come nobody else has thought of it? Why haven’t I read a book with this in it? I bet it doesn’t work. It’s too simple. I’ve tried everything; why should I believe that your method works? This is just the same as I’ve read in every other book!”
But this isn’t a method; this is not a self-help book. I am not your guru; I don’t want to change you. In fact, even if you change, I probably won’t know about it unless you have your finger poised on a nuclear button; in which case, I must insist you work through the following example immediately!
I must protect my country from attack, our enemies are everywhere. Only by having this nuclear weapon can we be safe. Everyone wants to destroy us.
If I fire this weapon my enemies will retaliate and my country will be destroyed. Although it helps to have a deterrent, they only have them because we do and vice versa. As I will be in a nuclear bunker I will probably survive, although I will be responsible for the deaths of millions of people and animals I cannot callously disregard as collateral damage.
This is not my planet. I am only here for a short time like everyone else. Instead of being afraid of people because they live in a different area of the earth and may speak a different language, I remember we are all living beings and I do not have the right to decide life or death. I am a politician. It’s just a job; I was elected to look after the interests of the people, but I also have a responsibility to the rest of the planet. I will offer the hand of friendship to everyone, even people I call my enemies.
I will start dismantling my nuclear weapons.
People are always trying to change the world. They want people to stop bombing each other, stop taking drugs, stop cutting down the rain forests, stop animal testing, and stop killing animals. Stop doing this, stop doing that. Even if it is in the best interest of the system or the planet, people don’t want to listen to them. Why? Because people hate being told what to do. Nobody wants to hear from a stranger that what they are doing is wrong.
Remember what we discussed earlier? You change for the people closest to you; the ones whose opinions you value. Well if you were a soldier and your mother appealed to you to stop going to war and killing other people, or if you were an addict and your brother said to you “Please stop taking drugs, you’re destroying yourself, and I can’t bear to see you like this,” would you listen?
You may or you may not. You may carry on exactly as before. So if these are the closest people to you, the ones whose opinions you value, and you still don’t change; what chance has external pressure got to change you? “No More War!” “Say NO to Drugs.” It just washes over your head, doesn’t it? Why should you change if you don’t want to? It’s your life. The only time external pressures can influence you is when you have already started to become aware of yourself; when you are ready for a change, and just need someone else to give you a final push; otherwise they might as well not bother. They may have changed, and they want you to change, but that’s not the way it works.
We are the most intelligent species on the planet, capable of complex thought and articulate speech; we want to work it out on our own, thank you very much. The fact is we just don’t like to be pressured into anything, do we? We always like to think it over, weigh up the pros and cons. We battle against ourselves. Should we, shouldn’t we? But it’s not buying a vacuum cleaner we’re talking about here. This could be the change that alters the way you live; like giving up crime before you spend your life behind bars; something most of us would find easy, because it’s not in the best interest of the system. So why is it that some changes are easy for some people, but hard for others?
Sorry to tell you this, but it’s your brain! It becomes addicted to behaviours; it has become conditioned to thinking a certain way, and for you to try to change would cause it great pain; and when the brain feels pain you know about it. Your brain throws in all sorts of reasons why it isn’t appropriate to change, why it would be a bad idea. So you start to feel afraid. What if the change is no good? What if you don’t like who you become? What if the change isn’t in your best interest?
Here we have the final resistance to change after should – want and but. What if? What if; doubt; the fear that something may go wrong; your brain’s last attempt to stop you from doing something you may live to regret later in life (it says), even if it is in the best interest of the system. So in a misplaced desire to protect you, your brain mistakenly offers you some sound advice against any serious desire to change. If you had always paid your bills on time, or had always done your homework on time, there would be no need to change, would there? If you didn’t drink too much, you wouldn’t have to change to being abstinent, would you?
In one of the dictionary definitions of change it states: “a difference that is usually pleasant.” I would say that no one would change if it was for the worse, although they may engage in thinking and behaviour that is not of benefit to the system. But who actively states: “I know I’m a bank manager with three lovely children and a nice house, but honey I’ve decided to change. I’m going to be a drug dealer” Does anyone say, “I know I’m getting excellent results at school, but I’ve decided to change; from now on, I’m going to be a failure!” I think we can all agree that change, by its definition, must be an improvement to the system.
Unfortunately when your brain has been used to a way of thinking or behaviour, it will resist change. And the longer it has been used to it, the more it puts up a resistance to change. “Change is dangerous,” it tells you. “You don’t know what could happen.” “I should stop stealing from people. I want to stop stealing from people, but I need the money. What if I can’t get a job?” It really is amazing what your brain tells you, isn’t it!
Change is positive, but your brain puts objections wherever it can to allow the current behaviours and thoughts to continue. “After all,” it adds, “what if it doesn’t work out, this change, what if you don’t like it?” So you start to feel nervous and anxious about the change. “Maybe it isn’t such a good idea, maybe I should put it off until next month. After all, I’ve got a lot on at the moment and I’m quite stressed.” And you start to feel more relaxed, until next month comes, and then each month becomes more desperate and urgent, and you start using: “I have to” and “I must” I have to go on a diet I must stop smoking I have to sort my bills out I must get off the drugs I have to do my homework I must speak to my mother .
As with should or want, have to and must are in the future, because that is the tense where all these words belong. And although you should change, want to change, and lastly have to, or must change, you haven’t. Why? Because you are putting it off. You don’t want to go through the perceived hardship of change; you expect that change will be difficult, so you plan to change sometime in the future (a time that is not now). This keeps you and your protective brain happy for a short time, until you start wanting to change again; and the longer you put it off, the worse you feel about yourself. “I really, really want to change. I’m sick of doing this all the time. I am desperate to change.” So change…
That’s it, just let yourself surrender. Don’t fight it. Once you’re aware of the desire to change, just let it happen. It’s when you start fighting it, that you start getting all the inner conflict.
The voice of reason, arguing its case over and over why you shouldn’t change.
Don’t fight. Change and move on.
Don’t keep thinking about it. Don’t keep talking about it.
Through awareness of yourself and what is best for the system you did something for yourself that was a hundred percent improvement.
Because you changed for you.
Change can never be in the future, it has to be right now. You have to be so clear in the moment that there is no conflict, and when it happens it takes approximately two seconds.
We all spend our lives trying to change, when in reality all it takes is the time to say “I will never drink again.” “I will never take drugs again.” “I will do my homework every night starting right now.” “I will never fight with people again.” “I will not hit my wife anymore.” “I will dispose of my weapons starting right now.” “I will never kill another animal.”
The question is though, do you really mean it? Have you gone through the process of thought, awareness and thought change, before action? Because if you just start at action, your good old brain will fill in the thoughts for you about why it isn’t a good idea to change, and that just leads to more inner conflict. I’m sure many of you will be wondering “If I change, what’s to stop me going back to my old thoughts and behaviours?” and the answer is – nothing!
You can do anything you wish, you belong to the most intelligent species on the planet, and if you want to think a certain way you can. It’s your right! But if you want to go back to a thought or behaviour that isn’t for the good of the system, and it was something you deeply wanted to change about yourself, but couldn’t… “I did want to stop smoking. I’ve tried and tried, but I keep going back to it,” “I did want to get out of the gang. I tried and tried, but I just couldn’t,” “I wish I could be less violent. I have tried, I’ve had counselling and it didn’t work,” Then maybe change wasn’t strong enough for you.
Sometimes a major change needs an internal revolution.