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Published on November 2, 2021

How to Deal with Uncertainty And Have Peace of Mind

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How to Deal with Uncertainty And Have Peace of Mind

It was March 13, 2020. My 43rd birthday, and the day the world changed for all of us. The kids were told they would be out of school for two weeks. As you know, those “two weeks” turned into almost two years of uncertain times with the coronavirus pandemic.

Our senses were heightened. Stress levels were at an all-time high. Fear was winning. And one of the most significant contributing factors? The uncertainty of it all. Uncertainty about health, work, whether the kids would go back to school, what the mandates would require, how we were going to survive, where we would live, whether we should travel, what this would mean for our jobs, income, family, and of course, whether we should wash our bananas (turns out, that’s unnecessary).

Why Is Uncertainty So Stressful?

“Uncertainty equals danger. If your brain doesn’t know what’s around the corner, it can’t keep you out of harm’s way. When certainty is questioned, your lizard brain goes haywire, instantly kicking you in the pants to spur you to action and get you to safety.” [1]

I remember when my twins went to Catalina Island on a school trip in 5th grade. One of them had just been sick, and the other was in an arm brace. I worried the whole time, wondering if they could sleep, what they would eat, if they missed home…What if something awful happened? I stressed for three days, only to have them come home and tell me about the most fantastic trip they have ever had. My feelings of concern quickly turned to relief, but the uncertainty and fear during their absence were palpable.

Just because something is uncertain doesn’t mean we are unsafe, even if it feels that way. Therefore, the question becomes, what are the practical things you can do to deal with uncertainty and take control back?

How to Cope With Uncertainty?

Some of us are more naturally comfortable with uncertainty or ambiguity, while others feel anxious and overwhelmed in these situations. Whether you are dealing with uncertainty around the pandemic, the economy, the health of yourself and loved ones, finances, relationships, career, or family, here are 11 ways to bring you PEACE OF MIND.

P: Perspective

Take a step back from all your fears and worries to gain perspective. Remember, things are never as bad as you think. That story you’ve conjured up in your mind is likely never going to happen. Here are a few ways to get perspective.

Look at your situation as a neutral observer. Imagine you’re watching a reality tv show about your life. What insights or advice would you give yourself? When you step back and look from a bit of a distance, it often leads to insights or solutions you hadn’t yet considered.

You can also find perspective by grounding in what is important to you and your values. As I was writing this article, my 10-year-old daughter had a friend over. I was talking with them about how they deal with uncertainty. Her friend thought for a few minutes and replied, “I used to feel uncertain about if people liked me. I would worry and stress about it all the time. Then I realized that I like myself. And if I like me, then hopefully they like me too. And if they don’t like me, they’re probably not someone who I want to be friends with anyway.”

Clearly, she is a young lady with great perspective. Take the time to become clear on what’s important to you. That way, when things feel uncertain, you can hold on tight to the important things, and the rest won’t feel as stressful.

You can also get perspective by tapping into your personal belief system. One of my strongest held beliefs is that everything happens for a reason and that everything is happening for our greatest good. Even if I can’t see it at the time. This belief has been one of the most significant sources of peace of mind when I’ve faced uncertainty.

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E: Excavate

Dig down deep and bring it up. There’s power that comes when you allow what is happening at an unconscious level to come to the surface. When you feel fear around uncertainty, often you don’t even know what the fear is.

“Name it to tame it” is a term coined by doctor and author Dan Siegel to identify what happens in your brain when you use the “thinking or rational” part of your brain to calm the “emotional or limbic” part of your brain.

“Affect labeling” (putting feelings into words) diminishes the response of the amygdala (region of the brain primarily associated with emotional processes), thereby diminishing emotional reactivity.[2]

Put simply, when you write, talk, journal, or express how you feel, it lessens the power your emotions have over you. Sometimes this takes a little digging.

For example, you’re feeling uncertain about applying for a new job. Ask yourself why. You might respond that it’s because you don’t know if it will pay enough. But don’t take the first answer; dig a little deeper. Ask yourself, what else? You might realize you’re not as concerned about the money as you are about if you can do the job. Don’t stop there; ask again. What else? Perhaps you’ve lost some confidence, and you don’t feel in a good space to take on something new. Ask again…until you get to the real answer – the deepest worry. Then, and only then, can you feel better, as you know what’s really going on and can face it head-on.

You can learn more about this approach here: How to Use the 5 Whys to Get to the Root Cause of Any Problem

A: Acceptance

Acceptance isn’t about giving up and feeling defeated. It’s about coming to terms and acknowledging the reality of your situation. When you accept that things are uncertain, you can move on from wishing things were different, and deal with what is right in front of you.

Case in point: I have three daughters in school during this pandemic. The rules at school are constantly evolving. I’m often left wondering if they’ll be at school next week, what might change, or if someone in class will get Covid and they’ll all be sent home to resume distance learning. I was spending a lot of time and energy worrying about the uncertainty. Now, I have come to accept it as part of our new normal. I know things will change. I know things could happen. But instead of worrying about it, I am consciously opting to move on with our lives until more information becomes available.

One study found that knowing that there is a small chance of getting a painful electric shock can lead to significantly more stress than knowing that you will be shocked. Subjects who had a 50 percent chance of receiving a shock were the most stressed while 0 percent and 100 percent chances were the least stressed.[3] So, if you 100% know things are uncertain, you can be more comfortable in that place.

My dad has always told us kids that the gap between happiness and unhappiness lies within our expectations. If you expect things to be certain, predictable, and stable, you will always be unhappy when they aren’t. If you expect things to be unpredictable and change often, you won’t be so stressed when it happens.

C: Catastrophize

Yes, you read that right. Play out the worst-case scenario. Sometimes your mind makes up all these crazy things that could go wrong. Most of which will never happen or even in the realm of possibility. But when you play out the worst-case scenario and get clear on how you would handle it, you’ll feel more comfortable.

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Consider: Do you have the tools, skills, and support to deal with that outcome? Who could help you? We live in southern California, where we have to be ready at any time for earthquakes, fire, and other catastrophes. It is wise to be prepared. If you can handle the worst-case scenario, you can handle anything.

As you play out the worst-case scenario, ask yourself if it is possible (may happen, but not likely), plausible (could likely happen) or probable (very likely to happen). Most of the things you’re worried about likely fall into the possible category. By asking yourself the odds of this really happening, you are bringing yourself back into the logical part of your brain.

Once you’ve catastrophized, then it’s time to flip the switch. It’s time to play out the BEST-case scenario. Life Coach Jenn Perell calls this activity “Opposite Outrageous” – where you play out the absolute best things that could happen.

So, if your current thought is, “I am never going to be able to give this presentation. I am not prepared. I don’t know what questions they are going to ask me. I’m going to make a fool of myself. I might even get fired.” Instead, you might tell yourself, “I am going to nail this presentation. I am so ready. I am going to be able to answer every single question with confidence. In fact, they’ll probably give me a raise!”. Why have ridiculously bad thoughts about situations when we could have ridiculously good ones?

E: Examine Your Level of Control

In every situation, there are elements within your control and things that are not. However, we are often so focused on external out-of-control factors that it feels like everything is out of control. But there is a lot you can control.

For example, if you are in a rough patch with your partner and you’re wondering what is going to happen with your relationship, focus on what you do know to be true in other aspects of your life. You have a stable income. You love your job. You have a great support system. You have made it through 100% of your bad days and break-ups so far. Focus on what you know to be true. Focus on what is staying the same. Focus on what IS certain.

Often, this is also about controlling your reaction, feelings, and attitude. My favorite quote about this is in Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust.

“Everything can be taken from us but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

If Frankl can find something to control when faced with those treacherous and unfathomable circumstances so far out of his control, so can we.

O: Open Up

Talk to someone about your fears and concerns, hopes and dreams. A problem shared is a problem halved. Studies have shown that simply talking about our problems and sharing our negative emotions with someone we trust can be profoundly healing – reducing stress, strengthening our immune system, and reducing physical and emotional distress.[4]

Many people don’t want to share because they don’t want to be a burden to others. I hear ya, but let me ask you a question. How would you feel if your best friend, partner, or kid was suffering in silence and didn’t want to tell you because they didn’t want to burden you? My guess? You would want them to share. Take the chance. Not only will you feel better, but it will bring you closer. Don’t feel like you have anyone to talk to? Find a good therapist, coach, or talk to your doctor.

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F: Focus on the Present

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” — Lao Tzu

Be. Here. Now. Find a way to be present.

Perhaps you’re worried about something happening to someone you love. Be grateful at the moment with them. Take the time to show how much you love them. Say what you want to say. Appreciate every little moment you have together. If you can be grateful and focus on the present moment, you will feel more comfortable in the face of uncertainty.

M: Meditate

You knew this was coming, right? Meditation helps to bring your nervous system from a sympathetic (fight or flight) state to a parasympathetic (rest and digest state). This calms your body and allows you to feel safer and more at peace.

Don’t feel like meditating? Try grounding yourself by walking barefoot on the soil, beach, or grass.

Still not convinced? Just Breathe. Deep breathing increases circulation by bringing oxygen to your muscles and brain. It promotes a state of calmness and quiets your mind. What happened when you started to read this paragraph? Did you take a deep breath? Great, you should be feeling much better.

    I: Initiate Action

    Sitting in uncertainty only makes it worse. You don’t know what will happen until you DO something, and you see what happens next.

    When you stand at the edge of something; waiting, wondering, worrying if you can do it, you lose confidence. Your fears creep in, and you begin to doubt yourself.

    But when you take a leap of faith, jump in, and get started, your confidence immediately builds. You push your boundaries. You learn you can do it.

    Action builds trust, and each step you take builds it further. An incredible thing about the human brain is that once it realizes something is working, it will keep that momentum going. Yes, it is scary to move forward, especially into the unknown, but your action will conquer fear and build confidence and strength. When you act, focus on the first step you can take.

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    N: Navigate

    Not sure about something, ask a question. As a leadership and team development consultant, I’ve worked with thousands of individuals who must work with ambiguity and a lack of clarity. This is often due to a company restructure, new boss, M&A’s, or just lack of information.

    Once I was running a workshop where one of the participants shared that he was concerned he didn’t have the information he needed to finish a project. He wondered why he hadn’t received it and voiced that having to work without this information was stressful. A woman across the table quickly replied, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t know you needed that; I have it; why didn’t you just ask for it?” That thing he was so uncertain about? He had it an hour later.

    I’m currently working with a company where there is a merger happening. There is a lot of uncertainty, and people are concerned about what it means for their jobs, careers, and families. To support the process, leadership held a town hall where team members could ask all of their pressing questions. Do they still have uncertainty, yes? Does having a little more information and clarity help? Always. Perhaps you can ask a simple question to alleviate some of your uncertainty – or all of it!

    D: Decide

    Just make the decision. You will never have enough information to feel 100% confident or ready. There will always be some level of uncertainty to deal with. Decide to do it anyway.

    I have a good friend that has been dying to go to Hawaii for years. Her husband is in the film industry, and his schedule is highly unpredictable. Every time they think about planning a trip, they stop because they don’t know if he’ll be available and they don’t want to book it “just in case” he’s needed last minute.

    But guess what? It’s now been 10 years. Have they gone to Hawaii? No. Might they have had to cancel a trip? Probably. But sometime along the way, could they have gone and experienced a life-changing vacation? I’m going to guess yes.

    You can let the uncertainty stop you, or you can push through it and decide anyway. For example, my stepmom and Dad have planned a trip to Israel later this year. Will they go with everything going on? Who knows! But they weren’t going to let that stop them from the possibility of going. Instead, they planned it, bought the insurance, and will change things if necessary.

    What have you been putting off just in case something happens? What can you decide on, move forward, and change if needed?

    Peace Of Mind

    Like with everything in life, there is no one size fits all approach. Some times of uncertainty are more painful, scary, and overwhelming than others, and some of these strategies will work better in different situations.

    Applying for a new role or worrying about a big presentation is very different from wondering if you’re going to find a life partner, moving across the world, or awaiting your fate about a medical diagnosis.

    Identify which of these strategies feel best to you and try them! They only work if you do.

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    Good luck and remember; things are rarely as bad as you imagine them to be, and the future is always brighter than it appears.

    Featured photo credit: Molnár Bálint via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Tracy Kennedy

    Lifehack's Personal Development Expert, a results-driven coach dedicated to helping people achieve greater levels of happiness and success.

    How to Deal with Setbacks And Use Them for Future Success How to Deal with Uncertainty And Have Peace of Mind 12 Proven Ways To Increase Your Intellectual Wellness How to Build Self-Esteem: A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power How to Build Self Discipline to Excel in Life

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    Last Updated on November 30, 2021

    Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

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    Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

    Hope is not a strategy when it comes to change. Commitment is what is needed to make real change happen. Can people change? Absolutely, but exchanging your excuses for commitment is necessary to get started.

    Human nature leans toward habits, which can become ingrained over the years, but that doesn’t mean habits can be undone.

    What Impacts People’s Ability to Change?

    Breaking unwanted habits can be extremely challenging, especially if a person has been engaging in that behavior for a long time.

    The most important factor that affects your ability to change is your support system. With the help of supportive friends, family members, and professionals that provides medical advice diagnosis or treatment, you can navigate the path to changing for the better more easily.

    Even if you make mistakes, these people will remind you that your efforts were not made in vain.

    Aside from a support system, you also need to have a strong sense of personal accountability. By holding yourself accountable, you can recognize negative behavior patterns easily. It will also ensure you remain focused on your goal and stay in control of your actions.

    Conscious awareness is truly essential for your mental health. If you want to sustainably achieve change, surround yourself with like-minded people as much as possible.

    So can people change?

    Can People Really Change?

    Before you go through treatment, you’re probably wondering can people change or not. The short answer is yes. People can indeed change. However, change requires hard work and opening up yourself to new experiences.

    There have been millions of success stories of people overcoming bad habits and turning their life around. However, simply telling yourself or a loved one to change instantly won’t work.

    Lasting change takes time and effort. It also entails exploring the different reasons for your bad behavior.

    Once you have made the decision to change, it is integral to remember that the path is not linear. It’s still possible to slip back into your old habits, but the important thing is to recognize when this happens and commit to continuing your progress.

    Why Changing Can Be So Difficult?

    Our Past Affects Our Behavioral Choices

    Our well-worn habits and behaviors are a result of our past experiences and the decisions we have previously made. [1]

    We may have seen, heard, or felt something, and because of this we decided to believe something about ourselves and the world. Some of the most limiting of those beliefs we form between the ages of 0-7.

    All beliefs serve us in a positive way to a point. However, eventually when we want to change or evolve, they start to limit us.

    This is because our beliefs drive our behavior. If we want to adopt a new habit to drive change, those beliefs start to get in the way. [2]

    Our belief system usually drives our behavior from our unconscious mind. This means we are unaware of it and can automatically fall back into the old behavior.

    People have even described this is a feeling of being blocked. They know what they need to do, but they do the opposite instead.

    The easiest example to give here is with weight loss. If you unconsciously believe you are “not good enough,” it may mean you will choose the piece of cake when you go to the fridge instead of a piece of fresh fruit. This supports the belief and keeps you in your comfort zone of health related behaviors.

    Taking this belief into the work environment, you may choose to get lost in social media instead of making those follow-up calls. Again, this helps you avoid potential rejection where that belief may be exposed, keeping you safe.

    The key to change here is consciousness: becoming aware of any limiting beliefs you do have and making a conscious decision to change them.

    Our Core Identity Drives Behavior

    There are also those ambiguous things we call core values. These are embedded with a whole range of different beliefs.

    Our values are the things that are important to us. They are our “why” for who we are and what we do.

    A recent study found an important connection between core values and self-control, stating:

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    “[I]t is possible that expressing one’s core values facilitates self-control regardless of the construal level at which values are expressed.”
    [3]

    Furthermore, the study found that affirming core values worked to counteract ego depletion, leading to a more complete sense of self.

    It’s easy to see how this can influence one’s ability to work on successful behavior change. With a higher level of self-control and a more complete view of who you are as a person, your ability to change increases significantly.

    Most of the time, core values operate on an unconscious level, meaning they will affect any decision we make automatically. The above study suggests that making them visible through positive affirmations affects our decisions in a more obvious, positive way.

    Applying this to the weight loss example earlier, imagine you valued a sense of belonging, which led to concerns about being with people who act similarly to you. Having a glass of water out socially with friends might mean you feel like an outsider. Because of this, you choose a glass of wine instead.

    In the work example, maybe you value support, and it’s about being there for people who need you. You want to achieve greater things, but someone needs a hand, and you prioritize their request instead of making those essential calls.

    The key here is having awareness and working on consciousness raising. Remember our values sit in our unconscious, and not many people have a full understanding of them.

    Becoming conscious of your values and the belief system that lies behind them will help you see what needs to change internally. Making those inner adjustments will, in turn, shift your behavior.

    You Don’t Know Your “Why”

    Assistant Professor of Psychology Elliot Berkman PhD calls this your “Will.” This isn’t so much about willpower, but he refers to it as “the motivation and emotional aspects of behavior change.”[5]

    It’s about understanding your “why” for change and why specifically it’s important to you.

    Because a friend has done it, you think it might be a good idea for you, too. Or you think it’s something you should do or need to do. Perhaps you are even doing it because someone else wants you to or has asked you to.

    Doing it for someone else can cause what I call the see-saw, stop, and start effect. You start off motivated, and then you lose interest and stop. You see their disappointment, and then you start again.

    If you haven’t personally connected to your “why,” your motivation will quickly fizzle out, and you will sabotage your attempts at success.

    Knowing why you personally want the change and why it’s important to you here and now will fire you up. This is about connecting your desire for change to your values so you can emotionally connect to it.

    You Walk the Path of Least Resistance

    Clinical psychologist Dr. Soph focuses on making neuroscience simple and easily understood. She refers to walking the path of least resistance as “homeostasis,” which is keeping things the same.

    It’s about staying within our comfort zone, where we feel safe and secure and where we can get by without using a lot of energy.

    She explains: “When your brain is repeating a habit (the feeling of ‘running on autopilot’) it doesn’t need to use much energy because it doesn’t have to engage the prefrontal cortex.” [4]

    She likens this process to creating a new path in a field. It will always be easier to walk over a path that is already well-worn from use.

    Starting a new path in a field of tall grass is much more uncomfortable and requires significantly more motivation and energy. Most will naturally choose the well-worn path.

    It is the same with any change, and for those of us with a preference for sameness, it will feel hard to make those new connections.

    This is probably where the rule of 21 days comes in, although 90 days may be more realistic if we’re talking about long-term, sustainable change. During those three months our unconscious mind keeps trying to revert us back to the old neural connections because it feels easier.

    It’s kind of like a sled on the top of a snow slope. The track that the sled has used numerous times will be much deeper and solid. The sled is steady in that track. Wearing in a new track will take time, and the sled will try to veer back to the old one until the snow becomes bedded down.

    Again, conscious awareness is key. Remind yourself that you are in the process of embedding the new neural connection. Be aware of when you try to revert back to the old track and steer yourself away again.

    We Are Wired to Mirror Others

    Another reason we might find behavior patterns change so hard is that we are naturally hard wired to imitate. This is because of a small circuit of cells in the brain called mirror neurons.

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    Neuroscientist Marco Lacoboni explains,

    “The way mirror neurons likely let us understand others is by providing some kind of inner imitation of the actions of other people, which in turn leads us to “simulate” the intentions and emotions associated with those actions.”
    [5]

    These neurons are ultimately key to socialization. In fact, these are the neurons that help us build our social skills. They are the exact same neurons that lead a baby to smile when we smile. This may help to explain why we often get in our own way.

    While trying to fit in with a specific social group through imitation, our brains may lose focus on specific changes we want to make to be different.

    If we have a closer circle of friends or loved ones who have habits that can derail our change, we are likely to revert back. That’s why if we attempt to give up smoking, and our partner still smokes, it can be really hard to stay committed.

    The good news is that your negative behavior patterns and personality traits can be changed, but it is up to you. Below are some tips to help you get started with change.

    How to Start to Make the Change You Want

    1. Figure out What You Need to Change

    If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of something you would like to change. That’s great! The first step toward change is acknowledging that you have something you need to change.

    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 negative patterns in our life. Then, look inside to see what’s causing these repeated life problems to occur.

    If you can’t figure it out on your own, consider going to a counselor for better understanding. Once you recognize the area that requires change, you can move to the next step.

    2. Believe That Change Is Indeed Possible

    There are people out there who believe that personality traits are 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 traits and behavior patterns 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?

    Be proactive about the change you want in your life, including the belief that change can occur.

    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.

    3. List the Benefits of This Change

    In order for people to change, they need to buy into the premise that the change is necessary for their betterment. For example, maybe your goal is to be more productive at work. There are many benefits that could come from this, including:

    • Getting more done in a shorter amount of time.
    • Having more time for your family.
    • Getting a promotion
    • Being liked and appreciated by your boss.
    • Being part of the success of the company.

    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 for your life and another for your loved ones.

    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.

    4. Make a Real Commitment to Change

    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 pounds 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.

    It also helps if you make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.[6]

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      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.

      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.”[7]

      These kinds of specificities will help you create a personalized plan that is achievable and time-bound.

      You can learn more about writing SMART goals here.

      5. Create a Plan of Attack

      You need a set of steps outlined to succeed. This is why 12-step programs are so successful. You can’t simply walk into a meeting and be 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.

      6. Commit to Action

      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[8].

      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.

      We can make up our mind to be determined to change, but if action does not follow soon thereafter, then you will likely fail.

      If you wait until later that week, 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.

      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, set aside an hour each day after work (and on your calendar) 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.

      7. Find a Support System

      When people want to change, finding a support system is key. A great way to find support is through group therapy or support groups.

      If you have a substance abuse issue, for example, 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.

      Your ability to be successful in change is dependent on your ability to dive in; support systems help you with the initial dive and staying committed thereafter. 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.

      8. Get Uncomfortable

      Change should be uncomfortable. You are entering new territory and stepping out of your comfort zone. Your mind and past habits will be resistant to the change, as it is uncomfortable and difficult.

      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.

      9. Stick to the Plan

      When people decide to change, sticking to it is difficult. If you get derailed from your plan, don’t berate yourself. Instead, allow yourself some margin of error and then get back on track.

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      You can’t expect to go on a diet without splurging sometimes. The key is “sometimes.” The sooner you get back on track, the more successful you will be in accomplishing your change goals.

      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:[9]

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

      10. Engage in Self-Reflection

      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 weight but you work late hours, then commit to morning workouts.

      If you know that 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.

      Brainstorm 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.

      11. Define Your Commitment

      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. Hold yourself accountable.

      Types of Therapy That Can Help You to Change

      If you are wondering if can people change, you need to know the different types of therapy.

      When choosing between any of these, consider your main goals and what you what to get out of them. If you are living with any mental health conditions such as substance use disorder or depression, you should also keep this in mind.

      Behavioral therapy

      The major focus of this type of therapy is to eliminate your negative personality traits and replace them with positive ones. There are various techniques that are part of this approach.

      One of the most popular ones is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This therapy centers on how thoughts affect your behaviors, feelings, and mental health. This way, you can easily identify negative thoughts and examine whether or not these are true.

      Another type of behavioral therapy is called Dialectical Behavior Therapy. This psychotherapy focuses on the importance of mindfulness and teaching people how to come up with a healthy response to negative triggers such as thoughts and feelings.

      Humanistic Therapy

      This type of therapy aids people to develop the best version of themselves so they can reach their full potential. The major principle behind this therapy is human beings are good, and they are able to make the best decisions for themselves.

      An example of Humanistic Therapy is Gestalt therapy, which encourages people to examine their present situation. It also involves techniques for medical purposes only such as reenactments, guided fantasy, and role-playing.

      Another therapy is called Client-centered Therapy which aims to make people focus. Therefore, they can express themselves freely without fear of being judged.

      The third example of Humanistic Therapy is Existential Therapy. This is based on the same philosophical approach, and it is driven by one’s unique meaning of life. The key purpose of this therapy is for professionals to give medical advice diagnosis or treatment, and guide you make rational choices to improve yourself.

      Integrative Therapy

      Integrative therapy takes a more holistic approach when it comes to making yourself become better. It uses various techniques to give you a more comprehensive treatment. This is a great option for people with complex mental health disorders.

      Final Thoughts

      Can people change? Hopefully, by now, you believe that they can. If you have a sense of commitment and persistence, change is possible with any life experience.

      Start small, create specific goals, and don’t wait to get started. You’ll be amazed how far change will take you.

      More on How to Make Changes in Your Life

      Featured photo credit: Jurica Koletić via unsplash.com

      Reference

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