As a Life Coach, I have realised the importance of how we construct meaning and how two people can use the same word but mean completely different things.
In a session with a client some time ago, I sensed him resisting any ideas on change. This was despite him being in considerable emotional distress and wanting to find better coping mechanisms.
After trying several angles to encourage change, without success, I asked him about his resistance to making any adjustments to his views or behaviours. Which is when I discovered that he viewed the idea of change as tantamount to giving up his whole self to become an entirely different person. In effect, for him, it would mean becoming inauthentic and betraying his true nature. He saw change as changing who he was – not changing his approach or how he did things.
Clearly, if change means giving up my true self, it is asking too much. The cost of change is then too high and may mean that we risk losing our identity; which can only evoke feelings of anxiety.
So, perhaps, if we see change as a process of learning, expansion and enrichment of the true self, we will feel less anxious about the cost of change.
The other question that can come up around change is “how much change”?
Many self-Improvement books and methods promote the idea of radical change – a kind of inner revolution. Well, I tend to regard revolutions as painfully destructive processes that normally involve bloodshed and messiness. Perhaps evolution, rather than revolution, is a more sustainable approach. The idea of evolving into an improved, healthier way of being in the world.
So next time you think about changing something about yourself, it might be more helpful to see yourself as learning and expanding and, thereby, elevating your already rich and multifaceted self. This can take the form of a gradual evolution – by taking small sustainable steps until you get to the place you desire.
An evolutionary process is about giving ourselves permission to try out new ways of being and learning from the outcomes and making continuous adjustments; rather than striving to find the final perfect mode of being and then expecting ourselves to apply it in its entirety in one fell swoop.
Be kind to yourself and be patient. You can grow and learn and expand without losing your true self.
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