1. Accept yourself exactly as you are
I know that sounds totally counter-intuitive, but the paradox is that when you try to change yourself from a perspective of negative judgment of yourself, your self-criticism will make you feel bad, which will have a negative impact on your motivation. Attacking yourself with self-criticism will also activate your stress response, which actually changes the biological functioning of your brain and body and reduces the flexibility and quality of your thinking. This in turn uses up more of your energy, makes you think and behave defensively rather than proactively, stresses your body out and makes you tired and even ill.
2. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want
We have a natural tendency to focus on problems and sources of stress in our lives. And, this makes sense - we do it because we want to “keep an eye” on potential threats so that we can respond more quickly, and ensure our survival. This usually is a good strategy for ensuring survival but it’s not a good strategy for thriving.
3. Get familiar with what you want
We move towards what’s most familiar, and we resist what’s unfamiliar. If you’re familiar with how your life has been or is, but the way you want your life to be is unfamiliar and vague, then a part of you will resist going towards the unfamiliar and you will seek to repeat your current habits. Because you’ve survived by doing what’s familiar, a part of you assumes that familiar is safe, even if it doesn’t make you happy. Guess what, if we ever feel that we have to choose between safe and happy, we’ll usually move towards what’s safe. So, to dissolve your own internal resistance, get familiar with being the way you want to be by going their mentally, and filling out the detail even before you start making your changes.
4. Focus on changing your thinking, rather than focusing on changing your behavior.
Our behavior flows from our emotional state, which is informed by our thinking patterns and the stories we tell ourselves. So discover the thinking patterns and stories you’ve been using that have prevented you from already having the life you want and being the person you want to be. You can do this by asking yourself,“What have I been assuming that’s prevented me from having what I want?” And then question those assumptions, ask yourself what other assumptions are possibly true in that context, and choose to operate under those liberating assumptions instead.
5. Focus on the feelings
Ultimately, it’s feelings we want and we only want other stuff because of the feelings we think it’ll give us. So become aware of the feelings you’re seeking. This will have two great results: first you’ll have what you ultimately want right now rather than having to wait till you’ve changed your circumstances. Second, by feeling the way you want to feel, you’ll be getting familiar with the changes you want to make, making it easier to make those changes without your own internal resistance.
Photo Credit: David Reece