Wellbeing coach Olivia Trussell unlocks the secrets to mastering positive change and life transformation as we age.
Just as seasons change, we are also equipped with the capacity for transformation. However, it is not always an automatic process: initiating change requires conscious action, and while some life shifts are enjoyable and empowering they often follow feelings of fear.
There are many reasons why we resist change. We become stuck in our old tried and tested ways, because familiarity lets us avoid uncomfortable feelings that fear of change bring. Boredom and loss of inspiration can result from staying entrenched in your comfort zone. “Rust out” is the the term associated with monotony; it is the opposite to “burn out”, where you are doing too much although the side effects are the same - stress and lethargy.
We can lack self-confidence about our ability to make positive change. When we love and approve of ourselves, self-esteem grows and we genuinely feel more confident which allows us to trust in our ability to succeed in the goal we set out for ourselves, and to overcome fear and face new challenges head on. Fear induces anxiety in relation to our own potential and can prevent us from making changes because we prefer to feel safe and comfortable rather than be faced with the paralysing feelings that fear-based anxiety produce.
We may also have been taught to resist and prevent change. Parents or caregivers have the strongest impact on us through our formative years, and if they were scared of change it is common for this attitude to be passed down. If we affirm negative thought patterns - “I'm not good/smart/qualified enough” or “The opportunity won't be as good as what I have now” - they will directly influence our decision to resist change. Negative thought patterns not damage self-esteem, they also convince us change is not an option. To address these change-blockers:
1. Challenge the tried-and-tested
Create new ways of doing everyday things. Start small – drive to work a different way, visit a new shopping centre, try a new hair-style or join a club. When small changes become part of your life, it paves the way for making bigger changes a habit.
2. Appreciate yourself
Healthy self-esteem is the foundation for a robust sense of self. Many years of negative self-talk can be the culprit behind low self-esteem. Ideas to manifest positive changes in the way you see yourself include: writing a list of positive aspects of yourself, and referring yo it often; creating a list of your strengths – e.g. “I am practical”, “I am creative”, “I am a good listener and communication”, “I am organised”; and nurturing yourself and treating yourself well, by booking a massage or facial, and taking time to exercise and eat well.
3. Live in the now
Eckhart Tolle wrote, “The past has no power over the present moment”. So often we live in the past and allow old ideas of ourselves to motivate – or not - our way forward. Start saying “yes” to potential opportunities. To overcome the anxious feelings that surge up when change is presented, join a meditation or relaxation group to learn calmness; seek professional help from a reputable practitioner who teaches mindfulness, to assist with reminding your mind to remain present; ask yourself, “What's the worst thing that could happen if I do this?” and observe your answer closely; and practise being excited yet calm as change approaches.
4. Question and update
We are taught as children who we are, but these ideas and labels may not suit who we actually are beneath. We can still respect and appreciate our upbringing while deciding those ideas are not suited to who we actually are now. Document and acknowledge the labels given to you by caregivers, family or teachers, bless them and let them go. Change the labelling to suit who actually are, and move forward in this new space, confidently and fearlessly.
5. Create affirmations
External change often requires an internal change in our thinking and perception. Books by accredited teachers can offer practical guidance. Change Your Thinking by Dr Sarah Edelman is one such guide to overcoming self-defeating thoughts, and offers practical strategies towards more positive thinking. Start documenting the way you speak to yourself and ensure it is supportive and uplifting. Create powerful and positive affirmations that reflect your truth such as: “I am perfect the way I am – my colleagues and friends are drawn to me”; “I am an intelligent person with a lot of experience”; and “My life is a blessing and I feel grateful”. As the late great Dr Wayne Dyer wrote, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.
Growth is painful, change is painful - but nothing is more painful than staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.
Are you ready?
Your mind, body and spirit send lots of signs and symptoms to alert you to when change is needed.
*Lack of inspiration and drive
*Your focus is on more negatives than positives
*Anxiety or depression
*Exhaustion, usually from giving too much emotionally
*Regularly eating unhealthy food, or practising unhealthy life habits
Olivia Trussell is a wellbeing coach. Visit her at https://olivia-trussell.squarespace.com