The Paradox of Change
Carol Solomon, Ph.D., MCC
While our spirits often yearn for changes that give us greater peace, freedom and connectedness, we must embrace the essential paradox that makes change possible.
Carl Rogers said it this way “the curious paradox is that once I accept myself exactly as I am, then I can change.”
On one hand, we realize that changes are needed. The nature of life is change. We simply need to be aware of the changes and flow creatively with them.
On the other hand, to maximize the ability to change, we need to be at peace with the possibility that change may never happen.
Our self-worth as a person cannot be tied to making a particular change. Yet, that’s where people get stuck… in not being able to accept themselves just as they are, even if they never change.
While we all want to achieve goals, it’s human nature to resist change in any context that assumes we will be acceptable only when we make that change (lose weight, get a better job, find a relationship, etc.)
If we can protect and affirm our essential goodness no matter what, then change becomes more possible.
Why is it so hard to change?
The theologian Richard Rohr summed it up by saying – “because it asks us to let go.”
We aren’t good at letting go.
We are good at holding on.
Change doesn’t always feel safe. Even small changes can set off the fear response in the brain.
He also said “We want to keep things the same and strive for some kind of safety and security, to stay with things that are familiar.”
There’s always a downside to change, in that it can take us out of our comfort zones. While we desperately want change, we also want familiarity and the safety and security of keeping things the same.
The only real security is knowing you can handle whatever comes.
How to Make Change Easier
In many ways, life is a continual process of healing and problem solving, of moving toward balance and wholeness in the midst of adapting to change.
There are many factors that affect your wellness, such as your overall health, your weight, your sleep, and your emotional and psychological balance.
However, if you don’t feel safe, excuses abound and change will never happen.
When we make excuses, we just make up reasons why we didn’t do what we intended to do, but that isn’t really honest and it isn’t necessary.
Abraham Maslow said that “growth forward customarily takes place in little steps, and each step forward is made possible by the feeling of being safe… of operating out into the unknown from a safe home port, of daring because retreat is possible.”
Where is your safe home port?
For some people, this means incorporating more stress reduction techniques and strategies, like meditation or EFT tapping, in order to feel more emotionally balanced and grounded. It may also mean saying no to responsibilities you don’t really want, so that you can say yes to yourself.
Break it Down
It often helps to break the goal into smaller, more doable steps. To feel safer in making changes, consider creating mini-habits. A mini-habit is a habit that takes less than 30 seconds and is ridiculously simple to do.
Like doing 1 push up.
Or flossing one tooth.
By creating a mini-habit, it reduces the resistance we all have.
Like brushing your teeth.
We don’t have resistance to brushing our teeth.
We just do it.
What if…after you brush your teeth, you did one push up?
If you link the push up to something you do every day anyway, then you’ll create a habit in no time.
It works even better if the mini-habit relates to the existing behavior.
A push up doesn’t necessarily relate to brushing your teeth. But it does relate to walking or some other form of movement. So you could tie the push up to some other movement you do every day, like walking up a flight of stairs. If you did one push up every time you walk up the stairs, then you’ll get stronger day by day, with almost no effort.
One of my favorite mini-habits is something even more passive and takes less effort – standing on one leg while I brush my teeth. This takes no extra time, but builds strength in my feet and legs with almost no effort.
Do I Need to Believe Change is Possible?
Some experts tell us that we need to believe change is possible in order to achieve it. Wayne Dyer was fond of saying “You’ll see it when you believe it.” That thinking, however, can stop people before they start.
I think we often limit ourselves in our own thinking of what is possible. If one person can accomplish a goal that you find challenging, then you know it’s possible. You may have to convince yourself that it’s possible for you.
In most of psychology, researchers describe what is. But knowing what is and knowing what can be are not the same. My interest is knowing what can be, what is possible and being open to learning what subtle changes might make that happen.
Even small changes have been shown to make a very big difference, so I ask my clients to stay open to what might feel impossible and embrace the psychology of possibility. This belief first requires that we begin with the assumption that we do not know what we can do or become.
Rather than starting with a feeling of being stuck and spinning our wheels, we simply accept where we are now (which can be difficult in itself) and then just think of where we’d like to be. Then we can start to think about how we might make progress toward it.
It’s a subtle change in thinking, but a lot of times, we don’t even realize how stuck we are. When we can notice subtle changes, then we become more mindful and are able to move forward.
The psychology of possibility asks us to try things out without judging ourselves as we go. Just try things out as an experiment. This approach keeps things more positive and less evaluative. If it doesn’t work, then it’s OK, and we are more likely to notice small changes because our self-esteem isn’t on the line. It’s just an experiment.
We all have blind spots. If all else fails, consider working with a therapist or coach to work through the issues that are getting in your way. This will often accelerate your results, give needed support and help you adopt lifelong healthy habits.
CLICK HERE to get “EFT MADE SIMPLE” – FREE Chapter of Dr. Solomon’s Book – How To Stop Food Cravings And Lose Weight With EFT
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carol Solomon, Ph.D. MCC, is a Psychologist, Master Certified Coach and Certified EFT Practitioner. She is one of the world’s leading experts in using Emotional Freedom Techniques to help people lose weight without dieting, stop binge eating, and reduce emotions, anxiety and stress that lead to the urge to overeat. She is the author of 4 books on Emotional Freedom Techniques, the EFT Tips newsletter, the Binge Eating Teleseminar and the EFT Weight Loss CD. (http://www.EFTTips.com). She enjoys a thriving coaching practice and is passionate about helping others succeed.