Guest contributor: Laura Poburan
The Truth About Change
You’re reading this right now because you want to make a change in your life. This might come in the form of a physical outcome such as weight loss, muscle development or simply loving the way you look in your favorite dress. Or this might come in the form of achieving greater financial success for yourself and your family, feeling confident to take a trip to Thailand next summer, or finally working up the courage to talk to that girl you cross paths with every morning in the line at Starbucks.
Whatever your goal is, your ability to create real, lasting transformation in your life hinges on 3 secrets. The thought process of society today is that if we are serious about our goals we must push ourselves harder to reach them. We must have discipline, persistence and grit. And while this might very well be true initially, in the long term if you fail to achieve a deeper shift – an inner transformation just as powerful as the external outcome you hustled to achieve – your new reality will exist only temporarily.
Secret #1: Control Is Both A Blessing + A Bane
We each have the innate desire within us to control our reality to fit what we believe will bring us closer to pleasure and away from pain. This can come in the form of a blessing when we step into this power and give ourselves permission to consciously choose how we respond to the events and the people that are happening all around us at any given time.
The trouble is that very few people actually recognize their ability to do such a thing, and so control shows up in our lives negatively instead. From the time you were born you have been taught things about yourself and who you are, as well as the world and how it should look. Your parents are the early installers of your beliefs and values, and so it’s no surprise that the lens we view the world through is shaped by the very lens that was passed down onto them over many generations.
As your perception of the world is formed, you develop subconscious patterns in how you think and act under various conditions depending on what you believe SHOULD happen. This, at its root, is why we use external things to cope when things aren’t going the way we want them to. Think about how this shows up in your own life for a moment. Do you find yourself spinning stories about why she said this or why he did that based on how you feel about whatever it is he or she did? Maybe you find yourself physically reacting when you didn’t lose as much weight as you thought you should have or when your husband forgets to empty the dishwasher like you asked him to. Can you think of a time when something happened around you and your reaction was to eat?
In the coming article we’re going to peel back the layers on why this is happening and what you can do to reclaim your power of choice and control to lead you into a state that is permissive of real transformation. But ultimately what I want you to understand is this.
When things don’t happen in the way you think they should, your brain is hardwired to react in a way that is “protective” in order to maintain the current perception of the world around you. In other words, it makes you feel a certain way or behave in a certain way in order to reinforce the beliefs you have about why that event felt threatening. The path to change, then, is to recognize and take ownership over your ability to create space between the events that trigger you and how you choose to respond (instead of react as you have been doing for years).
Secret #2: You Are Not Yet The Person You Must Become
Another reason why achieving a deeper level of change is difficult for many is because it requires us to trust in who we are becoming. The person you are today views and experiences their life through a completely different lens than the person who is capable of achieving and maintaining the external success you’re chasing.
In order to achieve an external outcome and keep that success (let’s use weight loss as an easily accessible example here) you must evolve into an entirely new person. This is a concept that is very difficult to grasp due to its intangible nature, and because of this many of us avoid the topic all together. We kind of just cross our fingers and hope that this inner shift will happen naturally, without all that much conscious thought. That when we lose these next 10lbs this will be the last time, for example. The inability to keep that weight off has very little to do with your willpower and dedication, and everything to do with the fact that you didn’t adopt new beliefs about yourself or the way you show up in the world. So naturally, over time, your past patterns control your external environment just like they always have and will continue to do.
Then how do we evolve ourselves on a deeper level and adopt a new way of thinking that will support the new reality we create? This will be explored in the coming sections. But until then, ponder this:
- What is an external outcome you have been attempting to chase for years?
- What must you believe about yourself and about the world in order to make that possible?
- Do you currently believe this to your core? If not, this is why you have been unable to keep the success you have possibly attained fleetingly many times before (or have yet to actually achieve at all)
An example of this would be as follows:
- I want to lose 20lbs and keep it off so I can finally feel great in a bikini without having to crash diet every summer
- I must believe that I look great in a bikini at any size, that I don’t need to diet forever in order to maintain a body I love and that food is not something to fear but rather something that fuels all of the amazing things my body allows me to do and experience
- No. I currently believe that I need to lose 20lbs in order to feel confident, that I cannot lose weight without being restrictive and that food is something that I need to feel good.
Make sense? Try this now with one of your current goals and see what comes up for you.
Secret #3: Happiness is The Ultimate Goal
The connection you’re making between your external achievements and what you expect your internal experience to be when you accomplish that…is a lie. The mind works in very simple ways and tells you only the information you are ready to accept as truth. Therefore it’s no surprise that when you feel unhappy in your body you associate weight loss with happiness. It’s the most easily accessible and obvious solution to your negative emotions.
But ultimately, what’s the root cause of your unhappiness in your body? What else could be going on in your life that is driving the behaviours resulting in a body you dislike when you look in the mirror? And what have you been taught about how you are supposed to look if you are to be fully loved and accepted for who you are?
When you take the time to explore deeper questions, you are able to access more powerful answers and the path to achieving true lasting transformation is illuminated. Without a willingness to feel uncomfortable and face the hard truths that are looming under the surface, your results will remain as such – surface level.
Think about it this way. In your mind from the time you were born you started building an electric fence. It’s invisible – but delivers a powerful shock when you step too close to its perimeter.
Inside this fence is everything you believe to be true about the world, yourself and what you need to feel happy. Everything outside of the fence, then, is perceived to be a threat to this happiness. We’re on the inside looking out, so naturally we think this fence is here for a reason. It must be to keep danger from getting to me. It must be to keep me safe.
When things happen in our life that challenge our beliefs about the world or ourselves, imagine yourself walking up to the edge of the fence. You get zapped – it hurts and you retreat. So over time you develop defense mechanisms to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Things like anxiety, worry, fear, tightness in your body, a racing mind, flushing of the face, panic, overwhelm – these are the physical symptoms of your mind whispering to you “be careful, don’t get too close that’s going to be painful for you”.
But these emotions don’t feel good either, right? So we cope – with food, drugs, sex, alcohol, lashing out, getting angry, crying, isolating ourselves. We do things to release the emotions that come up when the world is challenging what we think we need to survive – to be happy.
If you want to change your current beliefs, thoughts, and reality. If you want to make both an internal and external change in your life, it requires you to do only one thing. Walk up to the edges of your electric fence and endure the inevitable pain to step over the perimeter to get to the other side.
This is how you expand your beliefs about what you need to be truly happy.
This is how you change who you are to the core of your being.
This is how you discover a world free from coping with vices and protecting yourself with mechanisms that feel beyond your control.
This is the path to mindfulness, peace and feeling happy every day for no reason at all.
Achieving Intangible Change
The inner shifts I’m going to explore further with you are difficult to grasp due to their intangible nature. There’s a reason why goals are primarily set in the external world – because we can measure, predict and study them. We can see and touch them, and so to our minds they are more viable and worthy of our time to chase.
My hope is that with this framework you will be able to not only understand where you have been going wrong in successfully achieving and maintaining the life you desire, but you will move through each of them with a vulnerability and openness to the process and what comes up for you. Think about each of the following shifts as being fluid in that they blend together and affect each other. You will notice some will resonate more than others for you – this is normal and expected. The important thing is to notice when you feel dismissive or defensive as this is likely a sign that these areas are more powerful drivers in your current reality than the ones that you easily recognize to be problematic.
Your Relationship To Food
Let’s start with the shift that almost everyone struggles with understanding, yet is the single most important factor when you have a physical goal you want to achieve. There are many phrases floating around that eludes to the truth that how you interact with and behave around food is multifactorial and very emotionally complex. Each of us has a relationship with food, whether it be a healthy one or not. The trouble is that when we feel like we struggle around navigating our food choices, we are not aware of the two-way relationship. We are aware only about what we did wrong, where we struggle, and this impenetrable control certain foods seem to have over us.
The first thing you must know and fully believe is that the way you interact with food is very much influenced, as we explored earlier, by how you were raised, the beliefs of your parents, your experiences with food up to this point, and your beliefs about yourself. A deep understanding of this has the power to illuminate the truth about how a person feels about the way they eat, what they eat and why they eat is this…
Ultimately, the core question is this: “What role does food play in your life?” To make this more tangible, I have personified the main 6 faces of food. As you explore each and relate them back to you, consider when these faces appear in your life and why. Picture them as a real person that you are interacting with and you will be able to better conceptualize how this relationship is truly impacting you physically, mentally and emotionally. You may notice that you have a relationship with only one, but it is so strong that it impacts multiple areas of your life. Or you may find that each of them show up in your life in varying amounts. The thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong answer here, and your ability to have an honest conversation with yourself about where you are at currently is the key first step you must take to begin the journey of internal transformation.
In no particular order, the 6 faces of food are:
1. The Lover – when food shows up as a “Lover” in your life, what this really means is that the role food plays is to provide compassion, comfort and a sense of love or security – like you can depend on it as a constant in your life. You may feel like you lack this type of relationship with another human, and so you fill that void with food. Removing the masks you wear in the other roles you play in your life when you’re alone leaves you feeling vulnerable and you will often find yourself (over)eating. You hide this behavior and will typically eat in a completely different way when other people are around. Your private relationship with food is for you to experience only, it is sacred and private.
2. The Bad Boyfriend – when food shows up as a “Bad Boyfriend” in your life, you feel like it is constantly causing you to feel shame or guilt about how you interact with it. Sometimes fear or anxiety is an emotion that comes up when you feel like you can’t trust yourself around certain foods. You don’t believe you are ever making the right choices and that no matter what you eat you feel guilty for it. This is very commonly seen inside of impulsive desire coupled with immediate regret. There is a pull towards food that you’re unable to break free from, even though every interaction with it ends in some combination of disappointment, anger, or sadness.
3. The Therapist – when food shows up as a “Therapist” in your life, it’s essentially holding a space of non-judgement as it provides a temporary sanctuary from all of life’s problems. This is similar to how the Lover presents, however in this scenario it is used as more of an escape from their reality, rather than as a source of comfort or love. If you use food in this way you will often find yourself in the pantry eating crackers without remembering going there, or will find you have finished their plate without even noticing they started eating. This relationship is not as obvious because we are unaware of the voids we are filling. We are simply aware that we temporarily feel better and forget about life’s problems. This pattern is especially difficult to fix because the act of eating has become somewhat subconscious triggered by an underlying emotion you perceive to be negative. These patterns have been instilled over many years and often passed down to us from our parents.
4. The Magician – when food shows up as a “Magician” it is there to provide habitual, mindless and instantaneous relief from boredom or monotony in your life. It’s used for numbing or to elicit a temporarily elevated state. You’ll notice people who use food in this way will often impulsively eat higher fat/sugar foods because of the immediate intrinsic reward it provides them. The act is always conscious in that you actively seek out these specific “feel good” foods. You might even find yourself going out of your way to access them.
5. Cheerleader – when food shows up as a “Cheerleader”, the role food plays is to reward you or make you feel worthy or successful. If you use food in this way you often use it as a form of celebration. If you have this relationship to food you will often catch yourself justifying unhealthy choices because “you deserved/earned it”. Although celebrating around food is a healthy cultural norm that should not be demonized, this personification of food is more extreme. You often experience a loss of control and outwardly justify your behavior with celebration.
6. Party Animal – When food shows up as a “Party Animal”, its role is to provide a sense of belonging. It appears in this way socially, when we feel peer pressure or a fear of judgement and we act in ways that are adapted to a specific social group. Food may act as a “Party Animal” in some social circles, and not in others. What you need to understand about this personification is that it’s role is to make you feel more comfortable and accepted in a group of people. Examples of this could be simply ordering a burger and fries when you’re out for dinner with your friends because everyone else did (even though you really didn’t want to), or accepting a slice of pie from your mother-in-law because you don’t’ want her to know you’re trying to lose weight.
Take some time to think about each of these and consider the following:
- When do they show up in your life?
- Who are you with during the event?
- What usually happens prior to the event?
- What emotions do you feel after the event?
- What examples can you think of from your own life where each of these presented?
Creating awareness around how each of them show up in your life will lead you down the path of understanding where you need to bring more conscious awareness to your behaviors and thought patterns. The goal is this – to create space and time prior to your unconscious or habitual actions to consider if you are able to act in a different way. You always have a choice.
Your Relationship With Self
The relationship you have with yourself is the key to your happiness in your life. This is where so many of us go wrong on our search for happiness. We link what we see and experience to the reason why we feel a certain way about ourselves. This, however, could not be further from the truth. Ultimately, the biggest thing to understand here is that your relationship with yourself is your responsibility to fix and nothing external will ever mend it for you.
The most obvious and relatable example of this would be achieving a specific number on the scale. Let’s say you managed to lose 30 pounds. You developed new habits to support this weight loss, you now understand how much you should be eating to maintain your new weight.
But you’ve been here before, you’ve lost it before, and it always comes back on. You know you “know” what you need to do, but for some reason you just don’t do it.
It’s because your relationship with yourself is still broken, you haven’t mended the foundation of your new house. This would be like tearing down an old shack and rebuilding a brand new home without laying a new foundation first. Over time the walls with crack, the frame will shift, and what once was a beautiful new home will disintegrate into another shack on the same broken foundation as before.
If you want your external world to change for good, you must begin by learning to feel good about yourself. This journey is very personal as no two people will go through the same evolution. However, the place to begin remains the same in almost all scenarios. You must become a detective in your own life and learn to notice the conversations going on in your own head.
- When do you feel the most troubled about how you look or feel? “I feel the most sad about my body when I step on the scale in the morning”
- What is the dialogue like in your head? “Look at that tummy roll, my butt is huge, nothing I do ever works, I should just give up, I’m a lost cause…”
- What happened just before you started to think those thoughts? “I looked at myself in the mirror and felt anxious because I couldn’t see any physical change”
- Are those thoughts true? Or are they your habitual reaction to a trigger in your life? “No. I was triggered because of my disappointment in seeing an external change”
- What do those thoughts make you want to do? “They make me want to eat whatever I want”
- If you did that, what do you think that would make you feel? “Happy, in control and it would quiet the judgement in my head for a few moments”
- What else could you do to make you feel a similar way? “When I talk to my friends I’m happy, and I also forget about the voice in my head that’s judging me. They make me feel loved and accepted for who I am”
- Do you have the ability to remove the trigger?
- Can you create space between the event and your normal reaction?
- You felt [insert emotion] before the event occurred that triggered you, the next time you feel this emotion can you try to [insert different action]?
By following the above script during emotionally triggering moments you can begin to uncover new avenues available to you that will replace your old patterns. The key here is that initially how we feel about ourselves is intimately tied to the external goals we’re trying to achieve. Yet we are very much so multidimensional, and because of this we often hold parts of ourselves hostage waiting to feel “worthy” or “ready” to be seen in new ways. So I also encourage you to consider the following:
- What are all of the things you would love to do or experience one day that you feel you cannot or should not do until you [insert external goal]?
- Are you CAPABLE of doing or experiencing these things right now?
- Fill in the blank: I have not [insert awesome thing here] yet because I am afraid of/that___________________________________________.
Your Relationship With Others
There are more influences, as I’m sure you are well aware, on whether you achieve your goals or not other than just the voice in your head and the foods you’re around. The people and events that occur around you each and every day have just as much of an impact, if not more, on how we think and what we do in different situations. Where your physical goals are concerned, then, we must learn to recognize what events or people positively and negatively impact the actions we know are important for long term success.
The most important thing to remember is that your life isn’t an episode of the Biggest Loser where everything and everyone in their immediate environment is controlled. We do not achieve our goals in a vacuum. Life is dynamic and what has influenced our behavior for years doesn’t simply disappear because we chose to change something about ourselves. Where a lot of goals go awry is when we forget that other people are not going to automatically comply with the rules we have set for ourselves.
Take, for example, going out for dinner with friends where your typical behavior would have resulted in all of you consuming 2-3 beers or glasses of wine. Last week you decided you wanted to lose weight and a part of that goal included cutting alcohol out of your diet. You join your friends for dinner only to feel judged and frustrated when they try to force you to drink with them. You start spinning stories about how they “want you to fail” and how they “don’t understand or support you”…when the reality is simply that their behavior is he exact same as it was before. It was YOU who chose to change, yet we expect others to just comply with our choices with complete disregard about how they feel or what they want.
You can probably think of many examples like this, where your expectations were one way, but in reality the people you were around or the environment you were in didn’t comply with these expectations.
The lesson here, then, is that you must learn to become aware of two things:
- What you expect others to say or do in relation to your goals
- What the stories are the come up in your mind when things don’t unfold as you expected them to
By learning to notice what is happening around you, you slowly remove the impact people or events have on your choices and behaviors. You must remember, when you decide to make a change in your life or your body you are shifted into a state of vulnerability (whether you’re consciously aware of this or not) where your automatic reaction to a threat (a friend pushing a drink on you , for example) is to be reactive.
If you remain unaware of this tendency, it can be very easy to give in to the drink because that feels easier than defending yourself. Your mind wants to keep you safe and protected, and your reaction to accept the drink is one way that brings you comfort or a momentary excuse to avoid an uncomfortable situation in their current reality (this could be a combination of the Party Animal or the Therapist seen here).
Simply beginning to actively notice your triggers and the thoughts that ensue is the very best first step to actively disengaging from your reactive state and instead choosing to respond in a way that serves you and the goals you’re working to achieve.
Discover Your Voids
To admit that we have voids in our life that we are attempting to fill with external things, people or experiences is to admit that we have weaknesses. So coming to this conclusion can be troubling and painful for many. Yet the thing to remember here is that this is very natural in almost all humans. No matter how much you have or don’t have in your life, it’s human nature to want to improve, grow and seek out “what’s next” for us.
Voids can appear as giant craters or tiny dents, what’s important is that you learn to recognize yours along with whatever you’re using to fill them. If you have a goal to improve your body composition, it is fair to say that you likely have used food in ways that did not purely serve to satiate you. That is to say, if you identified with any of the 6 faces of food, you already began the process of uncovering what your voids may be. The key, then, is to take ownership over these and begin to recognize how you had previously attempted to fill them.
For the purposes of this article, we’re going to work under the assumption that you have in the past (or currently still do) use food to fill certain voids in your life, no matter how big or small. This could be experienced when you mindlessly reach for ice cream at night because you’re bored, just like it could be experienced when you consciously reach for ice cream when you feel lonely or rejected. Both experiences are void-filling patterns, the only difference then is the trigger.
The good news is that this pattern is typically predictable. In other words, you will likely always associate ice cream with boredom if this is your filler food for that specific emotional trigger. If you can learn your triggers, you can recognize your patterns and you can actively work to replace your “filler foods” with other tools instead. Start here:
- Try to identify first your triggers using the 6 faces of food as a starting point
- Next try to identify your pattern – how do you behave when you feel triggered? What do you reach for to bring you back to a “normal/slightly elevated state”?
- How did your body feel before this happened?
- What else could you do to bring you back to a normal state in those moments?
- For example, if boredom was your trigger and your pattern is to eat ice cream, you might feel tense, anxious or agitated right before you grab the pint of Ben and Jerry’s out of the freezer. You can use this awareness moving forward as a warning that you might be falling back into old patterns. Instead of reinforcing that pattern, could you have instead called a friend, taken up a new hobby, went for a walk, or did something else that would temporarily elevate your state?
Ultimately, in the end we want to figure out what you can do to remove that void in your life all-together, therefore removing the trigger entirely. However, this is a long process and in the short term simply learning to observe and re-write your patterns can serve you well in achieving your immediate goals without the threat of slipping back into reaction-mode.
Link Your External To Your Internal
External change will never, in isolation, produce internal change long term. Have you ever worked hard to lose a certain number of pounds on the scale? In your mind you imagine what it will feel like when you “get there”…but the day comes when you finally see the number you wanted only to realize that nothing much in our life actually changed all that much. We might feel happier for a short period of time but ultimately that feeling will subside as you realize that nothing internally really shifted (unless you do the work to make it so). This was your real life experience of understanding that you were never truly chasing a number, you were chasing a new feeling in your life. You were chasing something intangible.
So, then, the question becomes…”how do we link the external result with the internal environment?”
Everything we believe about the world and every action we take in response to the world around us is taught to us. Initially you might describe your internal environment as being “out of control”, “unmotivated”, “broken” or “lazy” when you feel you are unable to achieve the external outcome they’re searching for.
To illustrate this further, take an example of describing yourself as being “lazy” last weekend when you didn’t get your meal prep done. Is this actually true, or is there something deeper going on? To uncover this, begin to ask yourself a series of questions:
- What was it you actually did with their time last weekend?
- Why do you associate that with being lazy?
- Why do you say lazy like it’s a bad thing, what is your understanding of what lazy means?
- How could you have made time to relax, yet still also set yourself up for success?
- What was really going on here, did something happen personally that caused you to feel like you needed to create space from any additional energy demands?
- If so, does this happen often in your life? Where else do you feel yourself shift into being “lazy” if this is your default to overwhelm?
- Do you remember being called “lazy” when they were younger? How did that make you feel? What did you have to do or be in order to not be lazy?
Do you see how one simple statement can actually have a much deeper meaning?
We already explored the idea that what you believe to be true about yourself has actually been taught to you over the years from other people and experiences in your life. In other words, the idea that you are “lazy” because you didn’t prioritize meal prep is likely a reaction you’re defaulting to because of other instances in your life where you were told you were lazy when you didn’t meet the expectations that others had of you.
Once you understand your default reactions to specific events or people, you can challenge and rewrite them into new empowering truths that will serve you long term. After you have uncovered the false belief pattern, ask yourself “what is actually true about myself in this specific scenario?” For the example I detailed above, you might say “I chose to relax instead of meal prep because I felt like it was too much energy to do both, but in reality I could have done XYZ and still been set up for a successful week.”
There are many situations in our life when we react instead of taking the time to understand why we behave in certain ways, we can white-knuckle our way to external success. You can, in fact, achieve a weight loss goal without ever discovering why you behave in certain destructive ways…until you take your foot off the gas and fall back into old patterns that are so deeply ingrained you won’t even notice it happening until you’re back where you began. This is why yo-yo dieting is so prevalent – it’s focusing only on the external goal of weight loss instead of working to uncover WHY these behaviors are happening in the first place. You will be well served to spend some time here and work to understand yourself on a deeper level and truly achieve change from within.
There is a painful part of learning more about yourself and what you are in control of versus what you have simply been reacting to for so long. In order to truly achieve an inner shift, you must be open and willing to first take ownership over the fact that everything you currently experience was at one time a choice that you made. It’s not that your friends push wine on you, it’s not that your mother in law just won’t stop baking delicious pies. It’s not that your gym is too busy or you have no time to be active.
Playing the victim and passing blame to other things and people is the single habit that will keep you in your reactive state and away from long term change. The trouble is that accepting ownership over your life’s situation is incredibly painful to do in many cases. But until you believe that you are where you are because of the choices you made, you will struggle to believe that the choices you make will take you to a new life entirely. To take control over your life, you must accept that you have been in control all along.
There are no strategies needed to do this, it is simply a choice you must make. A single choice to accept responsibility over every aspect of your life and believe that you have the power to make any change necessary to get to a place where you feel truly happy – no matter how difficult. Even if there are choices you know would serve you, but you are unwilling to make them at this time (like breaking up with a boyfriend or leaving a toxic work environment, for example) the simple ownership over the fact that you DO have choice can empower you to respond very differently in those situations.
When you choose to leave victimhood behind for good, you are able to view your whole world through a new lens and behave very differently without anything changing at all. Powerful stuff!
Break and Build Boundaries
You’ve heard of creating boundaries, yet most people have no concept of what a boundary actually is because whether it’s internal or external – they’re all still intangible. The reason why external boundaries are so important where physical transformation is concerned is because, as you now know, there are a lot of external triggers or motivators pulling us back towards past patterns that no longer serve us. In order to maintain a sense of who we are becoming and how we want to act with our new habits firmly in place, we must shut out the “noise” that was once there guiding our thoughts and behaviors.
Examples of this might include:
- Getting clear about who are the people in your life who are loving and supportive versus who are the people who are the energy suckers – leaving you empty after an encounter. The boundary would be committing to making time only for those people who fill you up.
- Putting a “flow day” in your calendar where you don’t book anything committal and you leave your day open to do whatever you feel you need to recharge – a yoga class, a walk outside with your fave tunes…anything.
- Committing to disengaging from the toxic banter in the coffee room at work
That being said, there is a crucial step to this process that is often missed entirely and the reason why you continue to struggle here. Before external boundaries (commitments and intentions protecting your energy from outside people and events) can be built up, internal boundaries (those boundaries in your mind that you have created to keep you “safe”) must first be shattered.
What are examples of an internal boundary?
- The way you habitually react to a situation that feels uncomfortable with defensiveness, anger, frustration, closing off, anxiety, etc.
- The thoughts that play on a loop in your mind when you come close to the edges of safety and challenge yourself to grow (“I can’t do this”, “who do I think I am”, “I’m going to fail just like last time”, etc)
- The beliefs you hold about what is possible for you and your life based on what you were taught to be true from your parents or adult figures growing up.
Think about internal boundaries like this >> in your mind you have built an electric fence around all of your current beliefs about yourself and how the world should be. You have ideals in there about how you expect people to behave, what you believe to happen in every type of situation, and how you think you should perform, act, think, or show up inside of this world.
Most people live their entire lives within this fence. Why? Because when something doesn’t happen the way we have conditioned ourselves to think that it should, or when we don’t show up the way that we have been taught is “right” or “acceptable” in order to receive that which we all crave (happiness, love, worth, value, belonging) we get a shock from the fence. We ventured too close to its perimeter. When we get shocked, it hurts! We think, “that’s not what’s supposed to happen, something must be wrong.” But what we don’t realize is that this fence was built by our own design…and is the exact reason why we struggle to grow beyond our current beliefs and behavioral patterns. Because every time we have an opportunity to challenge them, we retreat out of fear of getting hurt.
We logically think that the fence is there to keep us safe – to keep intruders out. But it’s really there to keep us small…to experience life through a singular lens instead of expanding our vision to view the world and ourselves through multiple lenses. To stop reacting to what is happening around us and to recognize that we actually have no control over what happens around us and how the people in our life behave. Yet we are obsessed with trying to control every situation to fit the mold that we have pre-constructed. And when something doesn’t fit, our defense is to eat. Our defense is to lash out. Our defense is to accept failure. Talk badly about ourselves. We do anything we can to REINFORCE our current belief patterns.
How liberating it is to realize that in one single moment we can choose to step past that invisible electric fence, feel the pains of growth and view the world from a completely new perspective. So how do you help your clients step past their invisible electric fences? You help them recognize where their fence exists by helping them walk up to it until they feel the zap. They’ll know their zap – it will come in many different forms. But the place to start is the physical expression as it’s the most tangible. Pay attention to how your body physically felt in different challenging scenarios that you are facing (just like we explored when we spoke about discovering your voids). Most commonly you may experience tightness in your chest, knots in your stomach, anxiety well up inside of you, your body might tense up, etc.
Once you learn to recognize the zap, try to listen to the voice in your head when they feel their physical trigger. It’s going to be talking non-stop, telling you all of the reinforcing things you need to hear to justify your past patterns showing up (like eating to fill that void). Can you sit in that, feel it, and continue to push forward despite the pain and fear you experience? If you can, you will step over the invisible fence. This process done over and over again will reinforce a new belief pattern in you that will support the self-worth and confidence you need to begin to build new external boundaries up to protect their new perspective on life.
That you are in control.
That no matter what happens around you, you get to choose how you respond.
And that you are capable of achieving anything you desire.
Maintain Your New Perspective
You understand by now that achieving and maintaining your external results are completely dependent upon your internal journey and whether you are willing to move through each of these inner shifts. Maintenance of your new perspective is the last shift that must occur for your changes to become lifelong. You have heard it said many times before that you must achieve a “new way of life” or a “new lifestyle” if you want your physical changes to last. This, then, is the deeper embodiment of that. You must not only live out your new behaviors, but you must believe to your core that this is who you are and that this is what serves your happiness best.
Your ability to maintain this new perspective is dependent, then, on your continued awareness and practice recognizing triggers, choosing to respond instead of react, break down old concepts of what “should” happen and rebuild new boundaries to keep past triggers at bay, ruthless ownership over every choice you make, and continued awareness over who and what no longer serves you in your life. This process is iterative and ongoing because we, as humans, will naturally continue to grow and evolve every day of our life.
Establishing maintenance strategies can be massively beneficial to ensuring you do not allow past patterns to re-emerge. Think of things like:
- Daily meditation focusing on quieting the mind and concentrating on the breath
- Proper sleep and recovery from a busy lifestyle
- Surrounding yourself with the people who love and fill you up the most
- Consistent, daily check-ins on your “pilot light” – how much energy do you have to give and how do you need to protect the energy you need to keep for yourself
- Maintenance of literal boundaries in your schedule
- Time unplugged (daily for one hour and weekly for one full day)
- Consistent conscious awareness of thoughts. Notice the ones that do not serve you and let them go, replacing them with new empowering truths
- Consistent conscious awareness of zaps & persistently stepping through them into growth
You are more powerful than you realize, and your mind is the source of everything that is possible for you in this life. My advice is to truly take your time as you move through each of the shifts I just walked you through. Begin with the one that stood out the most to you as currently impacting your life. Each is an important piece to your complete transformation, but they often tend to blend together and overlap each other. Begin where you are and be gentle in your approach – this is not a linear process and will require a great deal of emotional commitment. It is normal to feel empowered one day and frustrated the next. Careful not to judge yourself based on what you’re feeling but simply commit to an awareness of the emotions that come up for you and how you are pulled to react to them. These are the little strings you need to pull on to expand your awareness of self and to truly move past that which has always held you back.
If you’re a coach and you want to learn more about how to impact your clients lives in this way and be the one Behind The Change – join the private facebook group for access to LIVE training’s, daily inspiration, a community of badasses (I’m supa picky about who’s in this circle), and of course doses of Laura wisdom to keep ya on your toes and growing.
Thanks for being here friend! Can’t wait to pull the sparkle out of you.