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Why Changing for the Better Isn’t as Difficult as It Seems

Why Changing for the Better Isn’t as Difficult as It Seems

Hope is not a strategy when it comes to change. Commitment is what is needed to make change happen. Not just a wishy, washy commitment to change that fades in a week. Real change needs real commitment. Dismissing your excuses and “buts” and exchanging them for commitment to the process of change is what is needed to make change happen.

The good news is that your personality and behaviors can be changed, but it is up to you. You can’t change anyone else, but you can change yourself. Below are the steps needed to create change in your life. Its up to you to make that change happen, nobody can do it for you, but you can certainly find help along the way.  

Awareness for the Need to Change

You can’t go on blaming your problems and issues on other people or circumstances. Eventually you need to take the bull by the horns, own up to your short comings, and get on a path to change. The first step toward change is acknowledging that you have something you need to change. If you don’t think there is something about you that needs to be changed or improved, then you are in denial, because there are not any perfect people in this world.

Look at the repeated problems in your life. The issues that seem to come up time and time again. Do you keep gravitating toward the wrong relationships, but you blame the people you are choosing, rather than looking at your problem in the selection process? Do you jump from one job to another, yet blame co-workers and bosses, rather than look at what you may be doing to cause problems and dissatisfaction on the job? We are creatures of habit, so look at the patterns that you have in life that are negative. The ones that keep coming up and causing problems. Then look introspectively to see what it is in you that is causing these repeated life problems to occur. If you can’t figure it out on your own, then go to a counselor for better understanding. If you can indeed figure out what it is in you that needs to be changed, even better. Once you recognize the need for change and what it is that needs to be changed, then you can move to the next step.

Believe that Change is Indeed Possible

There are people out there who believe that personality is unchangeable. When confronted with their problem such as constant negativity they lash back with “that’s just who I am”. It may be who you are, but does it need to be? Change in personality and behaviors is possible. Nobody stays the same from one year to the next, let alone across a decade, so why not move change in the direction that is best for you and not just let it happen.  Be proactive about the change you want in your life, including the belief that change can occur.

If you don’t firmly believe that change is possible, then you are doomed to fail. You must believe that change can happen. Look for success stories and people who have changed and done what you so deeply desire to do. Seeing that others have been where you have are, and have accomplished the change you desire will help you in your process to accomplish that change.

List the Benefits in your Life and the Lives of Others for this Change

In order for change to be meaningful you need to buy into the premise that the change is necessary for your betterment. If you quit drinking alcohol, but deep down still crave alcohol every day for the rest of your life has change really happened? The change needs to happen in your mind and for you to fully desire the benefit of that change in order for your change to be meaningful and long lasting. People who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

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    One of the best ways to help yourself stick to the commitment of change is to make a list of the benefits that the change will bring in your life. Make one list of the benefits in your life if and when this change happens. Make another list of the benefits that your loved ones will have if you make the change. Recognizing the full spectrum of benefits including how your change will affect those closest to you, will help you stick with the process of change.

    When you have moments of weakness, or fail on a particular day or time then getting back on track becomes easier when you review your list on a regular basis. Posting your “benefits of change” list somewhere where you see it often, such as a bathroom mirror, will help you be reminded of why you are doing what you are doing.

    Make a Real Commitment to Change

    Commitment means time and energy.

    If you think you can change by wishing and hoping then you will certainly fail. Be realistic when you dedicate yourself to change.

    If you think you are going to lose 50 lbs. in a month then you are setting yourself up to fail. Make a commitment to the time frame needed for the change to happen. If you want to lose 50 lbs., then set out a realistic plan of a few lbs. per week and a timeline that reflects those goals.

    It will take you a lot longer than a month, but setting realistic goals will help you stick to your commitment. Change happens one day at a time. It is not immediate, but over the course of time because of your dedication and commitment to the process.

    When you are making the commitment to change, this is the time that you dispel of your excuses.

    If you have had “buts” and “what ifs” in the past holding you back it is time to address those head on and not allow them to prevent you from pursing change. The “buts” are usually the biggest obstacle toward commitment. When times get tough your “but” thinking comes into play. Be prepared to knock down those “buts” and be more committed to the process of change and the end result desired, than to the “buts”.

    Be SMART.

    There is a “SMART” plan when it comes to setting and achieving goals and sticking to your commitment to change. Make your goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

    An example of this would be a person who wants to become an active runner so they can tackle a half marathon. The first step would be to research what other people have done for training plans to achieve this goal.

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    Runners World lays out specifics for a beginner to train for a half marathon: “Target the Long Run: Every other week, increase your long run by 1.5 miles until you’re run/walking 13 to 14 miles. On alternate weeks, keep your long run to no longer than three miles. Your longest long run should fall two weeks before your half-marathon. Plan to take about 15 weeks to prepare for the big day.”[1]

    Taking on this SMART tool, lets break it down:

    • S-(Specific). Run every week, make a chart of the miles, according to the Runners World recommendations.
    • M- (Measurable). Make the chart specific for the distance you want to accomplish for each run, which makes your goals measurable. Lets start by writing down at least your first two weeks of running goals to get started. Your first week could entail four days a week of running doing 1.5 miles the first run, 1.5 miles the second, 2.0 the second, and 2.5 the third. Then you move to week two and increase to the 3.0 mile mark. You again set your week up by scheduling four runs into your calander. The first day you do 3.0 miles, the second 3.0 miles, the third day 4.0 miles, and the fourth 4.5 miles.
    • A-(Attainable). You may concerned about weather getting in the way of you getting all your runs in each week, so you then need to find an indoor track, get a treadmill, or sign up for a gym to use their treadmills.
    • R-(Relevant). You aren’t concerned about your work out schedule outside of the running. Your goal is to get to half marathon preparedness, so attending workout classes won’t be on your chart. You stick to charting the runs and dedicating your free time to that goal, not other fitness or diet goals that may impede on your energy level and ability to get your runs completed each week.
    • T-(Time Bound). You are setting your plan to 15 weeks, based on the Runners World recommendations. You then find a half marathon that is very near in date to your 15 week completion and sign up. You chart your weekly runs (four per week), increasing your mileage each week by 1.5 miles until you can achieve 13/14 miles.

    Create a Plan of Attack

    A goal without a plan is a plan to fail.

    You need a set of steps outlined to succeed. This is why 12 step programs are so successful. You can’t just walk into a meeting and say I am cured and changed! You need to mentally process the change in order for the change to be lasting and effective. Create a plan for your change. Be realistic and investigate what other people have done to change. For example, if you are dealing with anxiety and want to change that, then seek out therapy methods to address your problem. Stick with the therapy plan until your change process is complete. Simply hoping the anxiety will someday go away is not a plan.

    Research the best ways that change for your issue successfully happen. Investigate what others have done and been truly successful in making it to the other side of permanent change. Use their best practices to set your own plan of attack in addressing your process of change.

    Commitment without action results in failure.

    It is wonderful to set a goal for change and to write it down, but if you don’t act then your mental commitment means nothing. There is no actual commitment unless action follows. To best kick start our change the key is to act NOW. Not next week. Not waiting for a time when things are lined up just right, because that time may never come. Start today, as soon as you finish setting your goal for change. Tony Robbins is a self-help guru who explains why many people fail to change:[2]

    A lot of people tend to make “sorta kinda” decisions. Here’s the secret behind why people don’t follow through: The reason people don’t commit to a decision is that they don’t act on it.

    Acting now, is the way to show your commitment. Your body must follow the brain’s commitment. For example, if you committed to lose 50lbs then now is the time to go join a gym, hire a trainer, and walk into a weight loss clinic to get support. The important part is doing. We can make up our mind to be determined to change, but if action does not follow soon thereafter, then you will fail.

    It is very easy to make a verbal commitment to change or to even write it down. Where the rubber meets the road is when action is taken. Take action once a decision for change is made. Because if you wait until later that day you will get caught up in doing your daily routine, things for works, taking care of others, or whatever it may be; there will be distractions that will derail you from taking action later. There is no better time to take action than when you make the decision to change. Find one way that you can take action to get the ball rolling. Momentum is essential.

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    For example, if you decide you want to finally write that book that is in your mind, but you don’t have a working laptop, then go and get a laptop today. Then that same day set aside an hour each day after work (and on your calander) so that you can write. Instead of going out with friends after work, you are committing to achieve this goal and you have time set aside to make that goal happen.

    If you want to become a writer, it won’t happen unless you actually write. Waiting until Black Friday for the best computer deal and then perhaps signing up for a writers conference 6 months down the road is not immediate action. Find ways that you can take action today. If you find yourself selecting action items that are in the future, then you really aren’t committed. Real commitment is making a decision for change and then taking immediate action.

    Find a Support System

    Psychology Today explains that one of the best ways to change behavior is through therapy and particularly the use of behavior modification therapies.[3] If you have a particular behavior or habit that you want to change, increase your odds of success dramatically by partnering with a therapist who specializes in treating your issue or who specializes in behavior modification methods.

    A great way to find support is through group therapy or support groups.

    If you have a substance abuse issue you can find groups that specialize is supporting you through recovery and change.  If you prefer to find support in the comfort of your own home, then you can look for online support forums and Facebook groups that deal with whatever change you are looking to pursue. There is support online for every disorder, bad habit, or desired change via the internet.

    Your ability to be successful in change is dependent on your ability to dive in; support systems help you to initially dive in and will help you stay committed to the process. Don’t underestimate the power you have by partnering with others who are seeking the same change. Whether it is weight loss, kicking an addiction, or changing part of your personality, partnering with others committed to that change will increase your odd of succeeding. There is power in numbers, so give yourself a better chance at change by finding and utilizing a supportive group.

    Get Uncomfortable

    Change should be uncomfortable. You are entering into new territory. Your mind and past habits will be resistant to the change, as it is uncomfortable and difficult. Expect the difficulties. Expect things to be uncomfortable. Also expect yourself to be so committed that you push through those times of discomfort. If you give up because of the discomfort then you are destined to fail in your pursuit of change. Embrace the discomfort associated with change and recognize that it puts you one step closer to accomplishing your goals.

    Stick to the Plan

    You will have good days and bad days in your pursuit of change. You will only succeed if you stick to the plan and push forward. If you get derailed from the plan don’t berate yourself. Instead allow yourself for some margin of error and then get back on track. You can’t expect to go on a diet without splurging sometimes. The key is “sometimes”. You shouldn’t make it a habit of getting off track, as it will slow down your progress. The sooner you get back on track on your plan, the more successful you will be in accomplishing your change goals. Set a plan and be committed to achieving it one day at a time and you will find success.

    Other researchers on the topic of change believe this process is about dedication and commitment to the change desired in our day to day lives, as Douglas LaBier from the Huffington Post so aptly stated:[4]

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    Change occurs from awareness of what aspects of our personality we want to develop, and working hard to “practice” them in daily life.

    Here are some tips on sticking to a plan:

    Self-reflect on things that have derailed you in the past and problem solve them before they happen.

    Jot down those things that tend to get you off track. Now list ways to combat the derailments before they happen. For example if you are wanting to lose weigh, but you work late hours then commit to morning workouts. If you know in the past you would continually hit the snooze button and subsequently miss the workouts, then hire a trainer for early morning workouts. You are less likely to miss your workout if you have real money attached to it and someone counting on you to show up. You could also schedule morning workouts with a friend, so you know there is someone showing up and you don’t want to let them down. Brain storm solutions for your past derailments, so that this time around you are ready to stick to the plan and the commitment you have made to change.

    Don’t do things halfway, do them 100% of the time consistently.

    If you are working out every morning for weeks but aren’t seeing change after a month or more because you are just showing up and giving it 50% you are more likely to quit. However, if you are giving 100% every morning at those workouts and you are sticking to the diet you will see change and progress. Those small changes are what keep you committed to an overall larger change in the long run. You are less likely to give up if you see the plan is working for you. In order for your plan to work, you need to give it all that you have in you.

    Define your commitment and be very specific.

    Commitment is a daily mental and physical plight when it comes to change. If your commitment is to lose weight then be specific about how you are going to achieve your change. For example, you decide you are going to stick to 1,800 calories a day and a 1 hour workout every day. Then write those goals down and chart your daily progress and achievement of these goals. Hold yourself accountable. Sticking to a plan is a great deal about the day in and day out commitments. Those commitments need to be achievable, yet challenging so you can produce change over time. Write them down, make them visible, and best of all create a chart of your daily progress in sticking to those commitments.

    Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

    Reference

    More by this author

    Dr. Magdalena Battles

    A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

    Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting a Marriage Counselor How To Stop Insecure Attachment from Wreaking Havoc on Your Love Life 7 Reasons Why You Should Find a Life Coach to Reach Your Full Potential 15 Ways to Practice Positive Self-Talk for Success How to Cope with Empty Nest Syndrome and Stop Feeling Lonely

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    Published on November 28, 2018

    How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

    How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

    The woman in yoga pants sitting in a lotus position atop a rocky cliff, overlooking a valley draped in fog — this is the glamorized version of meditation you’ll come across as you search. Yet if you’re seeking meditation to calm your mind, a fantastic setting with no distractions is rarely available.

    So how to do meditation?

    The truth about meditation is it’s an everyday practice for anybody. You could be a mountain climber or you could be an accountant — either way, your home is just as good a place for meditation as any.

    Are you seeking to corral your racing thoughts and relieve a sense of unease, awkwardness, or uncertainty? Look to home meditation to cultivate a laid-back, creative, confident, and organized frame of mind. According to extensive scientific research, meditation relieves stress and anxiety, decreases blood pressure, improves sleep, and improves your ability to pay attention. [1]

    From start to finish, this article will give you quick, easy steps to follow so that you can meditate at home regularly. You’ll begin by assessing, identifying and altering things that need to change in your home environment. You’ll end by understanding the basics of meditation so that you can let yourself do what you already know how to do deep down in the hidden reality of your mind.

    You’re ready to let your mind be, and just be, in your own home — let’s begin.

    1. Find the Right Space in Your Home

    Where is your right space for meditation at home? Is it in your basement, your bedroom, your living room, or your study?

    The right space will be one with the least distractions built in to its purpose. In that case, it may be your bedroom. If you’ve set up your bedroom to be a place for sleep and only sleep, it will lend itself well to meditation.

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    The right space will also be a reasonably spacious one. Although comfort is not your goal, you need room to sit. Choose a space that is private, spacious, and quiet. If you don’t have a space in your home like this, create one. Free it from clutter and get it ready for you to meditate there any time.

    Ultimately, your right space is one you feel comfortable meditating in, the space you can enter with no other expectations.

    2. Improve the Feng Shui in Your Home and Meditation Space

    Feng shui means “wind and water.” It’s the ancient Chinese art of placement.[2]

    Feng shui improves harmony with nature. Adherents to the principles of feng shui believe all things have energy (chi). The focus of feng shui is to send negative chi (sha) out of the space and attract positive chi (yun).

    Here’s the truth about feng shui: it’s not complicated or hard. The following will influence feng shui positively in your home and meditation space:

    • Living things, such as plants
    • Beautiful objects, such as sculptures or even a well-polished piece of driftwood
    • Mirrors in symmetrical placement with the lines in a room
    • Mellifluous sounds, such as trickling water or wind chimes
    • Furniture away from walls
    • A centerpiece, such as a small table with books or an ornate lamp on it
    • Incense or something else that smells good
    • A lack of clutter and an attention to organization that emphasizes the usefulness, purpose, and essential being of each item in your house

    Given that feng shui is connected to Taoism and Buddhism, it will complement the meditative atmosphere you want to cultivate in your home.

    3. Eliminate Pervasive Distractions That Can Harm Your Wellbeing

    In part, meditation is about accepting the existence of distractions. When you meditate, you don’t judge and assign a positive or a negative value to distractions — the ticking of a clock, an itch, the barking of a dog — you let them occur and let them dissipate like waves.

    However, in the same way that feng shui removes objects that attract negative chi, there are certain types of distractions that don’t belong in your meditative space. You must remove them.

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    In a survey of 1,700 people who visited social media sites at least 30 times per week, 30 percent reported high levels of sleep disturbance and 25 percent presented symptoms of depression. [3]

    Those individuals who experience sleep disturbances or mental health issues due to social media are not setting boundaries between themselves and their connected devices.

    Part of learning how to meditate at home is learning how and when to set boundaries between yourself and your connected devices and social media accounts. If you need your phone for a timed meditation practice, but you normally receive social media notifications on your phone, set it on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode during your meditation time.

    4. Flow into Meditation Through Time

    Next, set aside a time for meditation each day. It’s right to be structured and disciplined about your meditation time.

    Buddhist monks whose lives revolve around meditation are very structured and organized with their tasks each day. Structure provides the balance your being needs. Once you are meditating, your mind has no need for time. Outside of your given meditation time, you are completing tasks essential to the wellbeing of yourself and your home.

    Consider meditating as the sun rises. This is a quiet and contemplative time of the day when it is natural to set your day’s balance through meditation.

    5. Recognize the Rightness of Doing Nothing

    At home, you’re probably used to always doing something. When you do meditation at home, you are being, which is doing something and nothing simultaneously.

    Maryville University points out that successful people unplug by doing nothing. [4] Not only this, but they set the right expectations for the time during which they will do nothing.

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    We oftentimes look forward to the future by expecting something to happen and by expecting something of ourselves. To meditate from home, look to that time and that space by expecting nothing. You will not do any chores. You will not catch up on work. You will do nothing but meditate for a certain amount of time each day.

    This might sound crazy, but in taking on meditation from home, you’re not expecting yourself to improve and become a better person. As Ram Dass put it, you are expecting yourself to be here now.

    6. Choose from the Incredible Variety of Meditative Practices

    As I outlined in my post on types of meditation, there are many different and not-so-different types of meditation from which to choose.

    Many beginners find it right to choose guided meditation, for which there are apps, videos, and audio tapes available.

    If you are not necessarily a beginner but are merely moving your meditative practice into the home, you can facilitate a practice such as Nada Yoga — sound meditation — by placing a fountain in your space or listening to ambient alpha wave music.

    If you’re used to meditating outside of your home — perhaps you are drawn to the outdoors because of the sounds of nature — a practice like Nada Yoga can help you transition into your home space.

    7. Understand You Can Meditate Any Time at Home

    What if I told you to throw out all of the tips that came before this? Sounds crazy but that is how radical mindfulness meditation really is. We don’t think of it as radical because it is now ingrained in our popular discourse.

    Mindfulness meditation does start as a sitting meditation practice. It goes like this:

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    1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
    2. Focus on breathing. Inhale through your nose slowly and exhale slowly.
    3. As distracting thoughts arise, don’t judge them and don’t hang onto them. Let each thought go as you focus on breathing.
    4. Treat all physical sensations and feelings in the same way you do thoughts: register them, then let them go, returning to breathing.
    5. Extend this practice to everyday activity, remaining “in the moment” of the body’s activity with each new breath.

    As you practice mindfulness around your home, note the physical characteristics of the things in themselves. Note physical sensations: sounds, smells, textures, appearances, tastes. Stop now and then and do a body scan from head to toe, noting what each section is doing and how it’s feeling.

    Note thoughts that come and the emotions attached to them: let them go. Concentrate on the breath and the physical activities — including the details of the objects with which you’re interacting.

    You’ll notice that your home will lend itself to a meditative state when things are in order. This is where true feng shui originates. You will naturally sense how the arrangement of things affects the energy in a room.

    Clutter will disappear because mindfulness tells you to dispose of unnecessary things. Plants will bloom. Birds will make their nests in your backyard. Your home will smell pleasing and people will naturally be attracted to it and your presence.

    You’ve Reached the Beginning and the End

    Once you are able to do mindfulness meditation even as you are attending to the normal and abnormal requirements of your home, the mundane and the unusual, you are at both the beginning and the end.

    You are at the beginning because meditation never ends. Continue setting aside time each day to do sitting meditation in the space you’ve set aside. Continue practicing mindfulness as you attend to the energy of your house, your own energy, and the energy of those around you.

    You are at the end because you grasped what it means to do meditation at home: it means letting go of cares and concerns and being in your home as you attend to the right tasks. The right tasks are those necessary for being in your home.

    As you sit in your home, rise, open the door and you leave, you are calm in your mind because you are home.

    Featured photo credit: Simon Rae via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1]Healthline: 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
    [2]Marquette University: Feng Shui: The Wind and Water
    [3]Rutgers University: Social Media and Well-Being
    [4]Maryville University: How Successful People Unplug

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