Mel Schwartz, LCSW

Igniting Your Change Process

Photo credit: MinskDesign

We’re all familiar with the expression, “If I could only live my life over.” We obviously cannot get a redo over what has past, but we can choose to live our lives differently.

Should you continue to live your life the same as you always have? Or should you be open to revising life as your experiences and expectations evolve and you, perhaps, even gain some wisdom?

If you’re 30 years old, you’ve lived 262,000 hours. That’s a lot, but hopefully, you’ve got a lot more to come. If you’re 50, you’ve lived 438,000 hours, but you still probably have 250,000 more hours to live.

Given that, even when we have an idea of how we would choose to live our lives differently, often we don’t make those changes.

Why not? Do we have free will? Both theoretically and philosophically, it seems we must, but we don’t act as if we do.

What Gets in the Way of Making Changes?

First among a myriad of reasons is that our beliefs and thoughts become terribly inveterate.

When we hold on to the same beliefs and thoughts, we come to believe those things are true, and so we surrender to them, living out our lives pretty much the same as we always have. We become stuck.

This is a shame. Shouldn’t we benefit from the new experiences and insights we’ve gained over decades of life? Shouldn’t we make changes?

If we succumb to this automatic reflex, we can’t change.

It’s a bit like determinism. Our thoughts and feelings, perceptions, and past beliefs determine how we live our lives.

“Well,” you might say, “I want to make changes. In many ways, I want to live the rest of my life differently.”

How to Break Free

How can we break free from habitual conditioning when our ideas and experiences become predictable?

Stop, and look at your thoughts. They are writing the script of your life.

Thoughts are literal in that they “claim” to represent the truth.

Common thoughts like, ”I can’t. I won’t. They never will. It won’t work,” populate our self-speak.

We become indentured servants to our own thoughts. The familiar, even if it’s negative, becomes a kind of safe place, and once safe, our thoughts don’t want us to leave.

To escape our addiction to the familiar, we need to embrace uncertainty and welcome change, not fear it. The key in breaking free is to recognize the difference between old thought and new thinking. New thinking sounds like, “I can.”

Re-envision yourself. Rather than being stuck and constrained in a straitjacket of old thoughts and old beliefs, picture life as a flowing stream, and you want to dive in.

Cultural Pressure

Cultural conformity can also keep us stuck. We’re taught that change is something to fear and avoid.

“Stay in your lane.” “Don’t color outside of the lines.” “That’s not how we do that.” “Are you having a mid-life crisis?” It doesn’t actually matter what others think. Your yearning for change is not a crisis. It’s an opportunity.

We each need to decide: who is the author of my life?

If you allow your beliefs and thoughts, your experiences, your childhood messages from your parents, to be the authors of your script, you become a character; the plot, already written.

This leads to inertia stemming from fear, old thoughts, old beliefs, and the cultural pressure to not stray too far from the norm.

You can think of this in terms of taking the pen that writes the script of your life into your own hand. Write yourself out of the script by which you’ve been living.

When you look at your thoughts as you consider change or significant change, consider where those thoughts take you.

If it’s toward “Why I can’t,” and the story you tell yourself about why you can’t change, that’s literal thought trapping you.

Fix that with new thinking: “Why can’t I,” instead of, “Why I can’t.”

Why can’t you do it? This is your life. You can let go of fear. You can let go of what you assume other people will think. Break free from the constraining straitjacket of old literal thought.

Change is Healthy

It’s healthy to revisit your need for change and modification now and then… much better for you than living day by day according to the same routine.

You deserve better.

You have the chance to live your life differently, right now, if you choose it, and all you have is now.

So: right now, think about what aspect of your life you want to change. Commit to these changes. Write them down. No stories, no exceptions, no excuses. Go ahead and make that change in your life right now.

Replace, “Why I can’t,” with “Yes, I can.”

More from Mel

The Possibility Podcast #086: How to Live a Fearless Life

The Possibility Principle: How Quantum Physics Can Improve the Way You Think, Live, and Love

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