Change – now there is a word that has fueled my life. Since I am an early baby boomer, I won’t start at the very beginning but change – really what makes people tick – has always held my interest like nothing else. I have an undergraduate degree with a major in psychology because of it. And, more importantly, I struggled with a personal change after marrying my husband that continued a life-long journey to find various viable strategies to effect change in the easiest, fastest ways.
The story I tell about this catalyst is simply that I was a smoker and my husband wasn’t. I tried various methods to quit smoking unsuccessfully and had pretty much convinced myself that I just couldn’t do it. However, I wanted to convince my husband that I was really sincere in my efforts so I signed up to go to a “quit smoking” hypnosis session. There were about 750 people at a Marriott Hotel in Virginia that night. The speaker gave us an introduction to hypnosis and then we all shared the experience. What I remember consciously about it was drifting in and out of awareness and was surprised when he officially brought us out of hypnosis about the amount of time that had passed. Well, the results were phenomenal. I quit smoking after 25 years without withdrawal symptoms, without gaining weight, and without being what my husband was anticipating – a witch ( I would use a “b” in front of “itch” but this publication is rated G).
So, without further ado, I signed up to be certified in hypnosis with neuro-linguistic programming included in the package. This was followed by countless workshops and certifications all with a main theme of changing quickly and easily. I was also interested in making sure that anything I learned could be easily transferable to clients. I started a coaching practice along the way and my ultimate goal is that my clients become self-sufficient.
So, is “easy change” an oxymoron? For the most part, if you are trying to make major changes using willpower, I certainly think it is. For example, have you ever had a friend who got a divorce only to find a new guy or gal that ends up being just like the person they just divorced after they really get to know them? Have you ever tried to lose weight and been successful only to go back to old habits and gain the weight all over again? Most of the changes we try to make using our conscious mind and our willpower are not successful in the long run. At best, we can only use this strategy on a limited time basis – it’s just too stressful to be diligent and conscious trying to form new habits long enough to make them habits. Research suggests that only about 5% of what we do is done consciously, so who is driving the bus? Well, most authorities in this field think it’s our unconscious. So in order to really make changes one of two things needs to happen, either you have a major significant emotional event that disrupts your unconscious responses to the world so significantly that change occurs, or you find a way to work with your unconscious programming; which is where I come in, most of the strategies I have learned deal with finding a way to do just that.
The theory of how you learn about your world and how it operates in a simplified format is as follows: In the womb and up to about 7 years of age, you are in a brainwave called theta – it is a rhythm which allows you to take in an enormous amount of information quickly but has the very big drawback of not allowing you to make rational judgments about what you are learning. Then from 7 – 13 years of age you are mostly in a brain wave state called alpha. This state gives you a little more ability to accept or reject new information but not much. Finally at about 13 years of age you are in beta brainwave which is where you spend the majority of your waking state. You think you are in charge of making decisions and conclusions about how everything on the planet works but you really are being driven by that unconscious programming from your earliest years. This is why the statement, “you will see it when you believe it” is much more accurate than “you will believe it when you see it”. We really have a hard time seeing or making sense of something that was not programmed in our early life.
Well not to leave you hanging and hopefully offering you some good news about all of this – there are scads of strategies and techniques available today to help us with the significant changes we wish to make. The better news is that most of them are easily learned and are as much body based as they are mind based – so I know there is a technique or strategy that is available to suit your own personal style and preference.
To summarize, I believe you really have three choices when it comes to change: (1) You can struggle with willpower and hope you stick with it until you have etched a new neural network pathway into your habit field – this is the least effective way to proceed in my opinion (2) You can experience a significant emotional event (which will most likely be traumatic) but will push you into a new awareness. I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of trauma and drama, or (3) my favorite – you can take informed action to find a class, workshop, seminar, coach, therapist, book, or whatever tool(s) that offer(s) these exciting ways to change your life with grace and ease. May it be so!
– Linda Isbell / Columnist / firstname.lastname@example.org / (256) 764-1153
Linda was raised in the Midwest, graduated from Saint Louis University and hired into a corporate position with Reynolds Aluminum. She met, married and traveled with her husband for a number of years before moving back to his home place – The Shoals in Alabama. There Linda was introduced to life coaching and took to it like “duck to water”. Her empathetic nature coupled with a desire to help people help themselves; led her to and through a number of certifications, in different modalities. Linda currently practices as a Wellness Coach plying her trade in Florence, Alabama.