32 posts categorized "Change" Feed

Forgiveness and Process: Who are you becoming?

It's been an interesting couple of weeks at my house.  It seems almost every area of our life is in some sort of transition. The start of the year has been somewhat hard.

So last Saturday, we decided on a whim to go to a local eatery for wings.

The food was good, the service was extremely slow. This lead to a continuing conversation about conflict, fear and life.

My wife commented that she sees so many people who become the things they most said they didn't want to become in life.

In other words, the person focused on not being their mom, will often become their mom.  My kids asked if I agreed with her and I told them that I did, without reservation.

They wanted to know why I thought this was so.  I told them that I thought focusing purely on what you don't want to become is not enough.

Invariably, you will become what you focus on. Change Process Illustrated

You need something more than what you don't want to become. You need to know what you want to become, and why you want to become it.
If you have pain from someone else (and invariably, almost all of us do), you need to process it.

Ignoring it. Glossing over it. Embellishing it. Worshiping it.  Getting comfort from it.

Anything other than processing it, will lead to becoming someone who transmits the same types of pain to others.

So, let's say a person focuses on not being their Dad and they choose behaviors that are the exact opposite of their Dad, but never forgive their Dad and process through the pain he caused them, that person will transmit that pain to those they love.

You need focus and forgiveness.

Without forgiveness, there will be little process. Without process, there will be little forgiveness.

You have to engage in both to truly experience change.

Forgiveness helps us deal with the past.
Process allows us to the focus on the future.
In focusing on the future, we shape our present. This is why we must examine what we are focusing on. If you don't focus on what you want to become (your future), you will become whatever you are focusing on.

Often, that is our past. Especially, when our past has unprocessed hurts.

So what about you? What hurts from your past have you not processed? Who do you need to forgive? What are you focusing on? Who do you want to become?


Goals: Why most don't work and how yours can

Ah, the new year.
 
That blessed time of year where many people set goals for the next year. The gym where I work out, will be filled with people who have set 2018 as they year where they finally get fit.
For two weeks or so, at least.
Every year, many people set goals and they typically fall to the wayside by the end of the month.
Why?
 
Well, for one thing, most people don't consider the cost of their goals when they make them. They make a goal that they are going to lose weight but fail to consider that they will need to give up their favorite high calorie, zero nutrition snack. 
They set a savings goal without thinking about how they will need to pass the sales rack at their favorite store without actually buying anything simply because it’s on sale. 
 
Secondly, we often set goals that are too vague. I was talking to an aspiring musician one day and I asked him one of my favorite questions, “You have 525,600 minutes to spend over the next 365 days. How will you spend them? What will be different about your life when those minutes are spent.”
He told me that he wanted his music to be “more polished.”  image from c1.staticflickr.com
That’s a start of a goal but it’s not actually a goal. 
What does that mean? 
 
I asked him how much time he was going to spend on polishing his music.
 
He had zero idea. I told him that I doubted he would actually change much about his music. 
If goals are actually going to create change, they have to be specific and measurable. 
 
 We often fail to understand the why of our goal. 
 
What are the specific actions we need to take in order to achieve them? If I want to write a book, how many hours a week am I going to dedicate to it? 
If I am going to set a savings goal, how much am I going to transfer into savings? 
If I am going to set a weight/healthy goal, how many calories should I consume? How much time should I spend exercising? 
Where can I learn what I need to learn in order to accomplish these actions? 
Why do you want to do what it is your doing? This is why I ask about how you will spend your minutes. The older I get, the more I am convinced that time is our most precious commodity. 
 
Often, we spend it as if we are not in control of how we spend it. As if it just magically disappears from our life. 
If you want next year to be different from last year, you must spend this present year differently.
Take some time and write down what you want to happen over the next year.
Now, write out what the emotional pay off is to those goals. I've written about this idea, here. For example, I had a friend that wanted to lose and keep off nearly 100lbs. I asked him about the payoff to his goals. He said, he wanted to be able to walk his daughter down the aisle and go hiking with his son. "Write it down!" I told him.
 
Change happens when we take the time to answer there key questions. What do you want? What are you willing to pay? What are you willing to risk?
 
Take time to explore your goals. What do you want (be specific). What are the necessary behaviors you'll need to achieve your goal? What  is the emotional payoffs to your goal? If you want to lose weight, why? If you want to save money, what do you want to feel when you save that money? If you want to sponsor a child in another country, what is the emotional reason? image from encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com
 
Lastly, we often fail to get back up when we fail. People who attempt change, who want to fight against the status quo of their lives will fail more than people who do not worry about changing. Failure is part of the process. If we are going to successfully change something, we will have to overcome that failure by getting back up and going at it again. Many times, we will need to reattempt change multiple times.  *Note. The squirrel has nothing to do with the post. I just thought it was cute.

If you want to start something new, you'll need to stop something old

I often meet people who tell me about their wishes.

Sometimes, they call these wishes goals and I call them wishes.

They want to do this thing they're talking about....

......build a business

    ......start a non-profit

        .......go back to school CreativeCost1

            .....write a novel

                ......get healthier

                    ....do something they are not currently doing.

 

When I ask them what is keeping them from doing the thing they want to be doing, I usually hear one of two things. Sometimes, I hear both.

"I don't have the time," they say with dour seriousness.

"I don't have the resources," gets expressed with equal chagrin.

I often push back and ask them how important their wish is to them. They often tell me that it's really important.  I will ask them how important again and they will express some agitation at me asking the same question a second time.

I often tell them that I find that question to be the most important because I believe that people do what they want to do when they want to do it.

I often find that people fail at starting something new because they are unwilling to say no to something that they are currently doing but find unsatisfying.

You want to have a family? Well, that's going to impact the amount of times you can hang out with your "bros".

You want to get healthier? Well, that's going to force you to change your eating, and sleep habits.

You want to have an intimate relationship? Well, that's going to force you to change how you draw your boundaries and deploy your personal amour.

No matter what you do, you'll have to stop doing something else. 

I have found it helpful to judge people's seriousness about an endeavor by making one seemingly weird suggestion.

When they suggest to me that they are under-resourced, I'll suggest they cut their cable or phone bill.

The reactions are almost comical.

It's as though by suggesting they cut out their cable that I am asking for a limb.

"But, if you're going to get where you want to go, you'll need to change something," I prod. "What do you want to change?"

"I can't. I'm stuck,"

To that I say, "Hogwash!"

The journey from where you are to where you want to be is going to be hard.  Everything in life worth having is hard.

Life is hard because it's supposed to be hard, because that is how we learn.

What about you? What do you want to do that you're not doing? What is keeping you from chasing that thing? Is is fear? What are you willing to pay to get it done? Think beyond terms of monetary payments here. Are you willing to pay engaging your fear? Are you willing to risk failure (maybe public)? Are you willing pay people telling you it won't work? Are you willing to lose sleep? Are you willing to delay gratification?

Here's another truth for another post but remember that today what you do is because you're choosing to do it. If you don't like the results you're getting, start making plans to make different choices.


Get back up and fight

Sometimes you get knocked down.

You're walking along, moving through life and something happens through no fault of your own and you get knocked down.

Your parents make a mistake that blows up your life.

Your lover cheats

Someone you trusted, causes you severe pain and it feels like your word is falling apart.

Sometimes you jump into trouble.

You purposely engage into that behavior that you know will tear your life apart.

You make the same mistake again, even though you know will get caught and the person you love will be hurt by your actions.

You completely blow up your own life.

Get up anyhow and fight. Fight for change. Change is possible. It will cost you. It will be painful. It will cost you.


It will force you to risk.

Change is never easy.

Change is possible.

Whether you've been knocked down or willingly jumped, please get up and fight.
Do whatever it takes.

Go make an appointment with a counselor.

Register at that school for those chances.

Call your loved one and apologize.

Offer an olive branch.

Just get up. Don't stay down. Don't be defined by your failure. It doesn't have to be the last chapter in the story. It doesn't even have to be the defining story.

It can just be a chapter.

Get up. Don't stay down. Borrow my belief in you, even if you don't believe yourself yet. Engage the change process. Belief will come.


Do Anti-Depressant Meds work?

One of the most common questions I get is "How do you feel about drugs?" My answer is almost always that I have complicated feelings about them. What I often tell clients is that they should do their own research. What I have below is an excerpt from a book that I think everyone who is remotely interested in this topic should read. It is controversial and will probably upset some of those who read it for one reason or another. But we have to engage this conversation deeply. We need to talk about the risks associated with this medicine and the benefits. Mostly, we need to look at our assumptions on a societal level about how we deal with problems.

What the published studies really indicate is that most of the improvement shown by depressed people when they take antidepressants is due to the placebo effect. Our finding that most of the effects of antidepressants could be explained as a placebo effect was only the first of a number of surprises that changed my views about antidepressants. Following up on this research, I learned that the published clinical trials we had analysed were not the only studies assessing the effectiveness of antidepressants. I discovered that approximately 40 per cent of the clinical trials conducted had been withheld from publication by the drug companies that had sponsored them. By and large, these were studies that had failed to show a significant benefit from taking the actual drug. When we analysed all of the data - those that had been published and those that had been suppressed - my colleagues and I were led to the inescapable conclusion that antidepressants are little more than active placebos, drugs with very little specific therapeutic benefit, but with serious side effects.

Kirsch, Irving (2010-01-26). The Emperor's New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth (pp. 3-4). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.


You are ridiculously in charge...or so I read

I read a book this weekend that's basic assertion was that almost everyone is "ridiculously in charge" of their life.
I tend to agree with that sentiment. I realize people get stuck in jobs that are terrible, marriages that are dying and face other sundry difficulties in life.

But I think most of the time they give up the control that they do have over those situations. They stop fighting for their marriage. They refuse to risk going back to school or applying for new jobs.

I think for most of us, it's easier being a victim than it is to actually engage the change process.

If we are truly going to change anything we have to be willing to risk, and pay. What about you? We're almost done with one month in January. Do you remember those goals you wrote at the beginning of the month? How are you doing on them?

What will make 2014 different than 2013 for you?
Desire alone will not bring change to your life. You need more than desire.

You need a comittment and a plan. Do you have those? How often do you look at the plan?


Pondering Change: Book Style

And so we retreat, back to what we’ve always known. There is a suffocating comfort to it all. Letting go is not easy. The hoarders we see on TV who are stockpiling cats and newspapers have nothing on us emotional hoarders. At least the things they refuse to give up create physical piles before their eyes. They stink and cause a scene that can’t be ignored. On the other hand, the dreams you’ve always had but refuse to actually work on tend to create hidden piles you don’t have to look at unless you really force yourself to. The hopes you refuse to edit and learn to master don’t rot so tangibly— at least at first.

Acuff, Jon (2013-04-23). Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work That Matters (p. 106). Lampo Press. Kindle Edition.


Change, Vulnerability, Shame and Brené Brown

As a counselor, I am often tasked with helping people create and experience change in their lives. I often walk this road with couples. I often talk to them about the fact that they have to choose to be vulnerable or to not be vulnerable, but without vulnerability I don't know how change happens.

The problem is shame. We often have a reaction to shame that we can't seem to get around and this slows or stops the change process. I've taken to doing something risky in session. I actually have clients watch the below video in session. Then we talk about it.

Sometimes, we talk for just the rest of that session. Other times we talk for multiple sessions about how shame and fear work against change. Now, I'm asking you to watch it and let's talk about it. You comment, I'll respond. I'll add some posts of my thoughts on these topics over the upcoming days, and months.