Applying a "Fixer Upper" Attitude to Your Life
DIY your way to a new and Improved You!
Lately I've become quite enamored of all things HGTV. I especially love the show's that feature a team who find some broken down houses in seriously sad shape, but for a very reduced price, then fix them up to be as wonderful as brand new homes for half the price.
It occurred to me that we can use a similar approach to revamping our own lives! I am speaking mostly of how to create new ways of thinking and believing and thus, living a more balanced, contented existence. But, the same principles can be applied to creating a nicer looking outer Self as well.
Read along to discover the steps to take to bring about true and lasting changes in the person you see in the mirror. Maybe you will see a different reflection looking out, or perhaps it will be inner changes that are reflected. Whatever changes you are looking to create, the steps are simple and easy to follow. Let's go!
Step One: Visualize the Changes you Want to Make
As the show's I watch explain, the first step is to have a clear vision of the changes you want to make and how they will appear. This is pretty straight forward in the world of finding and fixing houses. One has a team of a carpenter and interior designer and together they visualize beyond what is seen on the surface. Not everybody is able to do this! It can be pretty hard to see beyond the rough edges and the broken, shabby houses that are offered up at huge discounts.
But, once the vision takes hold the changes to be made can begin! Only once you know what it is you want to see differently can you take the steps to make the change.
In the realm of changing ourselves for the better, this can be harder to visualize and it can feel more difficult. Why do you think it is that we might have a clearer vision for a house we buy than for the changes we wish to create in ourselves? I suppose it could have to do with the fact that we aren't always able to be as honest with ourselves about ourselves because of our emotional investment. Also, we can become quite inured and comfortable with the way we are, thus making it less desirable to make a change. But, if you are reading this, perhaps you have decided that the time is now and you are ready to get started on making some positive changes in your life. If that is the case, then congratulations and let's get busy!
It is said that the one constant in life is change. Most of us find change to be difficult or challenging. But, to not change is to remain the same, and ultimately this is not going to help you. We have to be willing to step out of our comfort zone in order to really make an impactful change, or two in our lives. They say anything worth having is worth a bit of effort. So, let's push up our sleeves and get to work.
Let's say that you wish to be a less angry person. Before you can make any kind of dent in your issues with anger, you must first come to grips with the fact of having problems with it. Then, you can visualize how your life will be without the anger.
Just as the architect or designer makes a blueprint for a future house design, you can make a blueprint for how to cultivate more peace and eventually less anger.
There are multiple avenues one can take to make lasting changes in their lives. Meditation, reading, prayer; these are just some ways you might learn to let go of anger and find a bit more peace.
Maybe you would like to stop eating junk food and lose ten pounds. Ask yourself, "what do I hope to gain by losing the weight and the junk food?". You can visualize yourself wearing a size smaller clothes, or feeling physically more healthy because you have jettisoned junk food from your life. Having created these visualizations makes your efforts real and gives them a shape.
Let's look at the second step to take once you've gotten clear on the goal and the vision of it in your mind as it's achieved.
Step Two-Out with the Old!
In the shows about revamping old, broken down houses, once the vision is created of how the new house will be, the next step is the Demolition! This step really looks fun! Often, the contractor will hand over some mallets to the clients and get them involved in smashing the cupboards and walls and tearing them down!
Much the same, you can tear down the walls of your broken belief's and demolish your bad attitudes! It might even be fun and cathartic, much like taking a sledgehammer to outdated cabinetry.
If it is internal change you are after, your demolition process will also be internal. You can visualize the destruction of negative habits as being smashed to smithereens with a sledge hammer if this kind of visualization feels good to you. But, really you simply need to take a few steps toward ridding yourself of the negative habit in order to then build the new behavior.
There are books, article and blogs written on every single aspect of personal change we might encounter. Whether it's weight loss, fitness, diet, attitude, finding happiness, meditation, letting go of anger; the list is endless and the options are as well. It is essential to rid oneself of the offending behavior in order to create a new, positive behavior in it's place. Or a new habit such as eating a plant based diet, and getting rid of sugar is an example of another way in which one might make changes. First, you face the offending behavior and identify it; then you set about removing or changing it for something more positive and desirable.
I can share that I've struggled with being negative and finding myself in very low places emotionally. I have worked hard to change that in myself. It was not easy and will likely be something I have to work with for the rest of my life. This is not bad news, however! It simply means that my basic nature was formed as a child and somehow it included seeing the realistic or pessimistic side of things. I lived that way for the first half of my life before I realized how much happier I might be if I could make a change in that.
First, I admitted that I had this tendency, and frankly it was painful. I simply didn't want to "own" this behavior as it was so offensive to me. But, only after admitting that I was a pessimist, could I visualize myself as an optimist! Once I got the hang of seeing myself in this new, shiny light, I was able to really create the change. It was pedantic, and slow going at first. It felt forced and unnatural to behave in a way I had previously labeled as being a "Pollyanna". But, slowly the changes seeped in and I started to view the world as a "Glass half full" kind of gal, and not as a "glass half empty" curmudgeon. Oh, I could have railed about why I was this way; who in my upbringing brought this out in me?! But, ultimately it doesn't matter! I knew that I wanted to stop being a negative person and I made the conscious decision to make the changes necessary.
You too can do this. Let go of the old ways of being, for they no longer serve you. Take this step and move on to creating the new, positive you that you long for!
Step 3-Building the new You
So, by now you've visualized the new you minus a negative trait or two. You then have taken the second step to demolish, or break down the negative behavior.
The next and last step is building the new you! My favorite part of these shows that show a broken home restored, is when the team reveal to the buyers their new home. I almost always get choked up as I see people react to this beautiful new creation in the place of what before was a mess! It is so lovely to see the surprise and delight in their faces and to share in their joy at their new, fabulous home.
You can make the same kind of impact in your own life! Maybe the big reveal will be a more subtle change; maybe it will be a change that only you will ever see or notice. But, the change once you've felt it will be every bit as emotionally charged and special to you as these moments are in the shows!
Lets take the example of dealing with anger and stress. Perhaps you've developed some new behaviors during Step 2 to cope with your anger and stress. Maybe you've been doing some daily meditation, or some coloring of Mandalas. Maybe you have learned Yoga and are also doing some journaling to free yourself of anger and stress. By now, you may be feeling some of the positive changes from the work you've been doing.
Maybe you've decided to get rid of junk food and to eat cleanly. By now, you may be finding that you've lost ten pounds and are wearing clothes you had given up hope of ever fitting in? Or, perhaps you were suffering from chronic digestive distress, but since you eliminated some offending foods you are now feeling physically much better and without digestive issues.
Whatever the change you desired to make and visualized, now you are creating them in your life. Just as the new buyers see this shiny house, with new coats of paint and new floors, you are seeing the changes in yourself and your life. Instead of paint and wood and hammer and nails, the tools are those of will, desire to change and the efforts you make. Instead of seeing new floors and walls you may be sleeping better or feeling calmer? Instead of anxiety and anger, maybe you are having more laughter and ease?
While it's wonderful to open the door and see a brand new house, the changes you make internally may not give you the same visual thrill. But, they will be helping you create a more sustainable life of balance that is more contented and satisfying.
Continue to reinforce the New You
Just as a house neglected falls into disrepair, so does a person! Once you make some changes for the positive, it's important to be a bit vigilant to ensure that the new behaviors last. Otherwise, you may find yourself slowly slipping back into the old behavior or gaining back weight you had lost.
Making change is difficult, and it's difficult to sustain change without a conscious effort and a willingness to stay on top of it. How many of you have lost weight repeatedly in your life, only to gain it back, often with even more weight on top of it? Or, created an exercise program but gotten lazy and let it slide.
The same principals to stay on task with a diet or exercise regimen apply to the changes we make internally. For me, it will always be a task for me to work on my attitude and remain an optimist. It is simply my basic nature to slip back in to pessimistic ways of thinking if I am not careful. If a change you create lights you up and makes you happy, then a bit of maintenance is needed to keep it going.
Just check in with yourself regularly and see how you are doing? If you find you've gained back five of the ten pounds you lost last year, it may be time to revisit the visualization you originally had and repeat a couple of steps to get back on target. Or maybe you conquered your anger only to find that it's starting to creep in again?
A newly refurbished house will only stay in good repair with regular attention and maintenance and you are no different! Think of yourself as a project that needs to be maintained; keep an eye to be sure that you aren't falling into disrepair and it will be much easier to stay on track than to have to start all over again after letting things slide.
I hope that you can apply my simple three step plan to find yourself living a life that is happier and more balanced. You may not ever have a brand new house, but you can always create a new and improved YOU!