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Thoughts on how to make positive change - Especially when the last bit of change you made was not the right move

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Often I get clients, or newsletter subscribers/Facebook followers ask me questions asking for tips, insights, and a different opinion. So I thought rather than just answering this person’s email I would (with permission) turn it into an articleI know many people will be in a very similar situation and may have similar questions. I hope you find it helpful.

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Hi Dov,

Thanks for your newsletter. I have changed my life big time by moving to a new city where I have a new job doing what I am good at, Interior Design, and to be nearer some of my children. My daughters (I have 4) wanted me to be closer to them and yes that is a good thing but I so miss my manwe broke up in really distressing circumstances when my Mum passed awayand previous to that my Dadall within 2 years. I was very close to my Mum and she died traumatically as I was looking after her and she had an accident and died.

I got very upset and ended up breaking up with my man but still love him a lot. I think I was temporarily insane due to grief.

Anyway here I am in a new city, a new job, new place to live, new everything and I feel so out of place.

The job is going OK and I have had a compliment from the Manager, but my heart longs to be back in my old city.

I'm not sorry I came as I think that if I didn’t then I would always have wondered if I should have.

Why do I make these choices and then find they are not right? Like leaving my relationship, then regretting it.

Moving to Wellington then finding it's not all its cracked up to be. Looks like I'm exploring different paths but not finding the right one, or when I do find the right one I self-sabotage. But maybe its all meant to be as part of my journey as I am learning a lot about life and how it changes and we evolve.

Through change we find out what we do want and don’t want.

I love getting your newsletters. Maybe you have a few words of wisdom for me.

Kindest regards

Jo (name changed for confidentiality)

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Hi Jo,

Great email, great insights and some good questions.

So many times we make decisions based upon some motive that we are unconscious of. And because we are not quite sure why we are doing what we are doing, it’s easy to end up in a situation/outcome that we don’t like.

It so often comes down to your values and your needs.

 

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Values — what is the most important thing to you? Family, career, adventure? At the same time, what need are you trying to meet by doing what you’re doing? For example, sometimes people need variety in large doses (some people way more than others) and one way they could get this is by doing new things, maybe a new relationship, a new location, or a new job. Often, if we crave this newness it’s often only triggered when things are going really well. All too frequently people with this pattern feel like they are sabotaging themselves. Things are finally going well (which also means they are getting bored a bit) and a strategy that they use is to change things, sometimes making drastic or big decisions. If this is a tactic that you use, and if you don’t like the outcome that it is creating for you, may I suggest that you learn to get your variety in a more constructive way. A way that makes your life better and more enjoyable and richer. A simple strategy could be travelling to a new location once a month, every Monday cook a new recipe, or meet a stranger once a month. It’s not really important what you do, it’s how doing what you do meets your needs while making sure it is aligned with your values.

As you may notice ,  most people’s values are not fixed. Some people think that they are like in some kind of hierarchy, but the truth is that they are more of a heterarchy. This  means that they are fluid and can change from one moment to the next. Right now, you may not think survival is your main aim in life because it probably is not. However, if there was a fire right now in the room you are in , everything changes and survival becomes the highest priority.

It is important that you dig a little deeper to uncover your values and true motivations behind your actions, thoughts and beliefs. That way you will gain the experience of being in control and will not feel like you are in a constant state of reaction to what is happening.

Truth is most people’s lives are pretty stressed (even if they are not aware of this) and as a result our brains are spending a lot of the time in a defensive, reactive, midbrain state . When functioning from this part of our brain, we are not conscious of the ‘why’ we are doing what we are doing. Of course, when you ask someone they will tell you their stories and why (their justifications) but very rarely are they actually connecting to what is really going on. Being in this stressed place — the trauma of losing your mum and dad passing soon after one another, it is no wonder you were making decisions from this part of the brain. This happens all the time and can definitely shift the path we were on.

Most people, most of the time, make their decisions to avoid pain. This is often a great short term strategy, but actually causes a lot more pain in the long term, resulting in being in the very similar situations time and time again. A classic example is trying to lose weight. Your intention is to not be overweight. Hence your focus is ‘not something’, so very commonly you end up with exactly what you don’t want because it is what you’re focusing on. What we need to do is learn how to focus on the solution and how to move in that direction.

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This contradicts my point a little,  but it's a cute pic.

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I just learnt to ride a motorbike recently. Often, when a new rider is on a corner and worried that they will crash, they tend to focus on where they think they will crash (as in what is just in front of them), which apparently results in lots of crashes. A far better thing to do, is to focus on where you want to go by looking a little farther ahead of you through the corner. This is so true for helping people make change constructively. People are scared and looking at the very thing they don’t want to have happen. Look to where you want to go.

Another point I wanted to share relates to the clichéd idea  that the grass is greener on the other side. A lot of the time we think we need to adjust our external environment. You might be thinking that you need something outside of yourself to be happy  and that you cannot be happy until you have that thing. This way of thinking often only proves to be a temporary distraction that fails to satisfy a far greater need. You might feel good for a little while.

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Please keep in mind shifting your external environment can also be very powerful. I believe the most profound shifts come from working with your inner world, becoming more whole, congruent, and more aware of why you are doing what you are doing. Being more conscious of what’s going on beneath your thoughts, feelings and desires.

As you can imagine I could pursue this line of thinking to deeper and deeper levels, but that’s already a lot to think about.

Use some of your time this week to become clearer about your needs and values. Remember — the more conscious you are the happier you will be. Rather than try to work out what went wrong,  or why you may have made a bad decision,  realise that the past is in the past. Now it’s time to work on where you want to be.

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Where do you want to be at the end of this year?

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If you live in Auckland, I would love to help you make some breakthroughs. As most of the magic in my work comes from coming into the clinic and working with me, the best I can do right at this moment, is share this article with you.

 

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