Change becomes especially difficult when our foundation beliefs prevent us from changing.
When we start thinking about personal growth and development we start thinking about change. Then we start thinking about how hard it is to change.
There are many reasons why change is hard for us, and one of the obstacles can be the contradictions in our thinking around change and consistency. It is, therefore, worth looking at the messages we grow up with culturally that tell us to be consistent, predictable and reliable. These messages can operate as powerful unconscious rules that create tremendous stress when we are striving for personal growth and change.
There are numerous such messages that can be found in everyday expressions; such as: “stand or fall by your decisions”, “you have to lie in the bed you made”, “always be a man (person) of your word” etc. These sayings all encourage us to be stable, consistent, reliable and dependable. On the face of it, virtues we should strive to realise, right?
But hang on; there’s another side to this coin. If these ideas become unbending rules to live by, they prevent us from ever doing things differently. This can mean that if you took a decision about how to live your life, run your relationships, earn your living, or whatever, at say age 18 (or even earlier); you are bound by these decisions forever, or else you run the risk of being inconsistent and unreliable.
The burning question is: do you really want to be bound to the decision of your younger, possibly uninformed self for the rest of your life?
Maya Angelou said: if we know better, we do better. But if we’re living based on decisions taken years ago, we’re not integrating the lessons we’ve learned into our lives. We take our decisions based on the information and insight available at the time. How much more information do you have as an adult now after having lived a bit?
The beliefs we hold around being stable and consistent can fly in the face of the idea of change and risks us being permanently trapped in an unhelpful and outdated style of living and engaging with the world. Why can’t we undecide old decisions, revise and update our world view and how we want to turn up in the world?
Maybe we can take a model from the digital world. We generally accept, even expect, regular updates on apps and software as completely normal. What if we see a change in beliefs, rules and decisions as similar to a personal software update?
I am not propagating impulsivity here, but a well-considered change of mind or view on self and life. This may mean that a period of learning and experimentation is required. Evolving into a way of being that is congruent with who we are now, this stage of our lives…one might even say, at this stage of our learning.