- Mental Health
Positive Change Series: Identify What Is Not Working
Change is a process and one that does not come easily in most cases. Often change is the result of something being broken for a really long time or being told that change must occur to avoid losing something or someone. No matter the circumstances, change is usually a forced or at least an uncomfortable situation.
So simply said – change is difficult.
Before change can begin the best practice is to identify where the change will have most effect. It helps to identify what areas of life are not working well in regard to your current goals. Frequently when the decision to change comes to mind one can benefit from changing various aspects of life. Even if it means making a slight adjustment in one area others will also benefit. Decide if the issue is your behavior, thoughts or perceptions and where adjustments are warranted.
Perfection Is Impossible
Often change is postponed or avoided all together because of the idea of sought out perfection. This is a reality check because humans can never be perfect, so postponing change is a good way to remain in denial that change would benefit your life in some fashion. Holding onto this unobtainable concept adds to the self-defeating ideas that have kept you stuck all this time in the first place. Negative thoughts work in this type of pattern as a way to defeat rather than to lift up. Learning the fundamentals of negative thoughts is essential to the change process. As change becomes increasingly difficult, the irrational thought of perfection will add to the struggle. But by overcoming and not holding onto this idea one may be able to begin and live lasting change.
Holding pessimistic viewpoints will continue to inhibit your efforts for change and a positive life. Negativity is the fuel that is used in our perceptions, thoughts and behaviors that keep us performing below our abilities and stuck in a physical and emotional rut. Holding a negative life concept keeps us from being who we are meant to be and from living a happy life. Happiness is not contained in negativity but rather in optimism and hopefulness. Though, negativity is a great defense mechanism to ward of hurt and reduces one’s vulnerability, though, ultimately it robs us from our glory.
Identify The Problem Areas
How one perceives the world truly influences one’s thoughts and behaviors. So quite possibly changing perceptions is the first step toward change. Often life circumstances are part of reality and thereby one way of dealing with life’s unchangeable slaps to the face is by changing one’s perception. Having no power over others and happenings of the universe, one must recognize they only have power over their own mind. Some perceptions that one can evaluate and change are:
- Perception of self
- Perception of others
- Perception of the world
So the first step is to identify what perceptions are not working and how you wish to change them. For instance, is your self-perception negative where you lack confidence, motivation and drive? Label the perception worthy of changing and identify what you would like to move toward. By recognizing that you have a negative self-perception how would that change that viewpoint into something positive?
Thoughts also influence one’s ability to think positively. When thoughts are negative often other parts of one’s life follows that path. Common thoughts that are worthy of changing:
- Negative thoughts
- Unhealthy thoughts
- Self-defeating thoughts
At times situations cannot be changed but one has the power over thoughts. Thoughts that lead you to believe in a concept will help to make that come true. For example, if you are thinking about a situation in a negative sense like, “I know I am going to fail this test,” then failing is likely to occur. But if you think that you studied and will do your best then your grade will undoubtedly reflect.
A study was conducted with students taking a test. The instructor came in and told the class that girls did better than boys and the results demonstrated just that. Then the study was repeated but this time the group of students were told that boys did better than girls and the outcome told that story. Nothing about the test was different and all of the students had similar academic abilities. However, the only difference was what the instructor said before the test.
Many behaviors that warrant change are those that are negative in nature and limits the ability to live to one’s full potential. Despite the behavior being functional in life and one that has been used for many years, the behavior is not demonstrating what the person intends to put out in the world. Behaviors that can call for changes are:
- Eating habits
- Sleeping habits
- Change in language use
Behaviors are the reinforcement to perceptions and thoughts. How a person acts as a whole is a result of how they feel about themselves. If a person feels positive about himself or herself then their actions will reflect that notion. However, if a person feels negative about their lives then they will act in ways that exhibit how bad their lives really are.
Change is a process of allowing the colors the gleam from a newly budded flower.
How Do I Change?
A simply complex question that requires a twisted answer. Change is not a linear process and has no start to finish method. However, it does take dedication and motivation. Also one needs to realize that as human beings there is no perfect ending or perfect person. What I am trying to say is no matter how hard you try to change there will be slip-ups. Adopting a positive outlook will reduce the amount of negative self-doubt when things go wrong, as they will.
Make A List
The easiest way to establish the list of attributes that need to go and those that will replace them is by making a list. An example list is displayed below to demonstrate what your list may look like.
Positive Change Diary
People won’t like me
I have many acquaintances and a few close friends – I know how to make friends
I can’t do anything right
Actually some things go wrong but today I completed an important assignment – I will give myself credit
Try to walk away when getting angry and return to the conversation after cooling down
Identify and Change Negative Connotations
"I will try"
"It is not possible"
"It is possible"
Everyone Can Benefit From Self-Improvement
Self-improvement can be achieved and sought out by anyone. No matter how well your life is going one can always look to improve their perceptions, thoughts and behaviors. Again as said before no one is perfect and thereby can learn to adapt to an alternative perspective.
Change Requires Vulnerability
Being open is the name of the change game. Changing is not an easy process and thereby will bring up some insecurities and feelings of awkwardness. Trying anything new means that it will not be right the first time, however, practice helps to achieve the goal. The goal is to be better than before but will require some pressure. Going out on a limb for yourself by creating a new sense of self is vital, though scary. To reduce the feelings of vulnerability practice the new perspective, thought or belief on those that you trust and ones that support your desire to change.
The secret of change is to focus all of your energy,
Not on fighting the old,
But on building the new.— Socrates
As with anything in life, there will be those that do not believe in your cause. No exception here. That should not concern you on your journey but worthy of a caution sign. Those that do not support your ideology are those that likely need change in their own lives but are too afraid to be vulnerable. As a result, disregard their negativity because they are not important anyhow and may be on your list of changes.
Stand Tall And Profess Change
This is no simple task but one must initiate the first step. Make a decision to change and the rest will follow. Though having a plan of action will help reduce confusion and setbacks. Using the table above to identify the perceptions, thoughts and behaviors that are not working for you and decide how they will change. Only you know the effects of negative attributes in your life and how you would like them to evolve. Taking on a positive outlook in life will reduce the sting from even the negative and inevitable experiences that you face. Realizing that not all things can be avoided, both positive and negative, however how you see them is totally up to you.