Change is a tricky matter. One the one hand, it’s human nature to want to better our lives, whether it’s our bodies, our careers, our finances or our love lives. Even enlightened beings like Jesus, Buddha and Mother Teresa were people of mission who meant to bring change to the world. On the other hand, if we constantly want our lives to be different, we live in a persistent state of dissatisfaction with the NOW, believing that “there” is better than “here.” We’re like the little kid in the backseat of the car constantly asking, “Are we there yet?” thinking that life will be great when he finally arrives. From that perspective, we are oblivious to the magnificence of the moment. But many people think that to be at peace with what is leads to complacency and falling far short of our potential as human beings. So how do we get “there” without being unhappy with “here?”
Recently I was talking with my friend, Jim Dethmer, who coaches many Fortune 500 CEO’s. He mentioned four secrets to enlightened change, meaning, how to be happy “here”, yet create a preferable “there.” As we talked about these secrets, we realized that they apply to anything that anyone would seek to change. No matter the application, the PROCESS is always the same.
This isn’t the forum to go into them in depth. But you should know that this is the process I take with my clients. If you came to me and wanted to make some kind of change in your life, as all my clients do, then we’d address these four “secrets.”
If you took a golf lesson from me, I’d put you on video and we’d see what’s happening to cause your problems. That’s awareness: seeing what you are doing to cause your problems. Awareness is not the fact that you are unhappily married, but it’s seeing what you are doing to create an unhappy marriage. Awareness is not that you are overweight, but seeing what you are doing to keep yourself from losing weight. Awareness is the “aha” moment when you see how you are creating the facts. Awareness is knowing your unique “swing faults.” This is what we explore in coaching. It’s very hard to see yourself clearly. But when you do, your life will shift very quickly.
Here is where most people’s train goes off the track. The real “secret,” if there is such a thing, is to first accept what you have become aware of before you put your attention on changing it. Most people, however, think that guilt, shame, self-disgust or some other form of inner resistance is what really motivates you. It does the opposite. Again, we don’t have the space to explore this here, but the reason most people stay stuck in their lives is that they don’t know how to love and accept themselves for being stuck. I don’t know of a single person who has learned to love themselves without the support of an enlightened friend, therapist or coach.
This third step, taking action, is where most people erroneously begin the change process. It is guaranteed to fail because without awareness and acceptance, you are trying to change something from the same mindset that created it. You’re a dog chasing its own tail. Einstein said that you cannot solve a problem from the same level of consciousness that created it. This is why New Year’s resolutions never work. But when you do have an “aha” moment and you are able to love yourself for what you’ve created, then clarity and insight emerge and right action is taken. Without awareness and acceptance change is brought on by impulse, not deep, sober commitment.
Finally, if you want to produce permanent results, you must adhere to a set of practices and disciplines. No matter if you want enlightenment, a good golf game, a healthy body, a blissful love life or financial freedom, you must engage in consistent practices that support those results. And when your change has been brought on by awareness and acceptance you won’t renege on your commitment. You will fulfill them because there’s a new You at the helm of your life.