When we want to make a change in our lives, most of us have been taught that we have to take action as the first step. Fake it ‘till you make it… right?
Real change comes from and starts from within. It’s not just a cliché.
Actually, real change starts from the idea that change is possible. For most people going about their daily lives, everything they experience – and how they experience it – is simply “normal.” It does not occur to most people that it’s possible to feel better in each moment and each day.
It’s that idea – that there’s something better, something higher – that is the start of true change within our lives. Isn’t that what drives us all, really? If we knew this was as good as it gets, how would we feel about the remainder of our lives?
So before you go about trying to change your life – do you really believe it can be better? Do you really think that your day-to-day experience of life can feel more joyful, less stressful, or more peaceful? If the answer is “no,” you can stop right there. Nothing will get better in your life unless you believe it’s possible. You don’t have to believe it’s certain or even probable; you just have to believe it’s possible. And if you don’t – you have your work cut out for you. Try to figure out why you feel that way. That is your way forward.
For those of you who don’t have that stumbling block or have moved past it, then what? Do we just start taking action? Do we imitate the actions of those we perceive to have and live what we want? The answer to that is “no” for multiple reasons. Besides the fact that perception is not reality (we truly have no idea what other people are experiencing), action alone will not bring about change.
In order to experience the changes you seek, you need to change as a person first. Maybe you need to change a little, or maybe a lot. Maybe you have to change in many small increments, or a few big leaps. However it happens, your general state of being – some would call it your “vibrational level” – has to be different before your life experience is consistently better.
Here’s why that’s true: have you ever heard someone say, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results?” In other words, if you keep feeding a system the same input over and over again, would you expect a different output? If you did, would you be crazy? No, you’d just be unaware. If it did, then we’re all crazy in some area of our lives.
Who we are as people – how we act, how we think, and how we perceive and treat others – is the input to our world, our life. It’s the input to the system of life. If we never change as people – if we continue to act, think, feel and believe in the same ways, could we expect the output of life to be any different? Where people fail here is they don’t recognize life as being a system, and they don’t recognize themselves as being life’s input, and they don’t believe that life’s output is related to anything about them. For a lot of people, it’s all very mysterious. Bad things (or good things) happen but nobody knows why.
I won’t tell you I’ve mastered life and know the “why” and “how” of everything, but I do know that as I’ve changed as a person, so has my life.
I used to focus on the negative aspects of everything as a habit. I grew up in a culture where this was normal and I carried it with me. I lived in the negative and received it right back from life. Tumultuous and unstable relationships abounded; from the workplace to the schoolyard. For as long as I could, I blamed everyone else.
Until one day when I read my journal (that went back many years) and I came to see that I was telling the same story over and over. Friendships or romances started, then ended abruptly and I’d made another enemy (or two or three) in the process. I came to see that the only common thread in those relationships was me.
I realized that it was me who had to change. And I did – as part of a process that took the next 10 or so years, and is still ongoing. Through all of this time, through life’s trials and errors, I taught myself to look for the positive in situations, other people, and most importantly – in myself.
Did my life change accordingly? You bet it did. My relationships became stable, my career satisfaction and success steadily improved, and I continue to build on those things today. No matter what actions I took during that time – what jobs I sought, what people I befriended or defriended – none of it made me feel better until I focused on changing myself – my attitudes, my beliefs – my inputs to life.
Today, I’m surrounded by the outputs of those internal changes. None of it would be here had I not ceased forcing action externally, and began focusing on myself internally. For those of you looking to make change in your lives, disregard conventional wisdom and motivational posters. Start by sitting quietly and getting to know yourself. It’s the most meaningful start you can have on your journey of change.