Change is easy, it really is. Don’t believe me? OK, try this and I’ll prove it to you.
- Sit or stand still with your eyes open.
- Take a deep breath.
- Count to five.
- Now clap your hands.
There, I proved change is easy. You thought about something. You decided to do it and you did it. You went from standing still to clapping your hands. That’s change. Congratulations.
“But that was a trick!” Nope, that’s it.
That’s what change is all about. Easy, huh?
“You’re wrong, life is hard and you can’t just change things that easy!”
Well, I agree with you and I disagree with you. Life can be hard and some things in life which we want to change can seem difficult or even insurmountable, but that’s one of the main problems people have with change: how problems are viewed.
Rarely is the thing we want to change the problem. It’s how we view the unknown outcome that’s the real problem. This view most likely will dictate whether you are likely to overcome and change.
Let me explain.
To facilitate change in our lives, there are three stages we need to understand and embrace.
The first stage of change is contemplation. Thinking about change is starting the ball rolling. This is a very important stage: Unless we are aware that we need or want to change something, then we are not going to change anything.
The second stage of change is decision. Once you’ve thought about making a change, you’ll then either decide to effect a change or not. But remember, if you choose to change or not, you are still making a decision, and you are responsible for that decision. Never blame anyone else for you making or not making a change in your life.
The third and most challenging part is action. Once you’ve thought about change and decided to do something, you then need to actually do something. Change doesn’t happen just because you want it to. Change doesn’t happen because you hope it will. Change doesn’t happen because you’ve thought about it and you think you deserve change.
Change happens because of action. Action, action, action.
I say action often is the most challenging part because, more often than not, people don’t reach this part. They get stuck in the decision phase because they are focusing so much on the unknown outcome. People can create all kinds of catastrophic scenarios when their anxiety-based, irrational thinking kicks in. When this happens, it’s all too easy to sabotage potential action by coming up with all of the reasons why this change is too hard, or the obstacles too big.
“This must go right or I won’t be able to cope with failing.” “What if it all goes wrong, that would be so awful. It must go right.” “I must know that this change will work out or it could be the end of the world.”
These are common irrational thoughts people have which hold them back from making a change. Change is all about dealing with the unknown and learning to face uncertainty and, to do that, it helps to understand and modify any irrational thoughts you have about the situation and outcome. Rational thinking can be difficult if you’re not used to it, but, to succeed in change, it helps to have a realistic rather than fictional worldview.
Also, just because you want and demand change to happen (and to happen easily without any setbacks), it doesn’t mean it will. You may fall on your face. You may actually make a mistake by making a change, but that’s what change is all about. It’s not called ‘staying the same;’ it’s called ‘change,’ which is a verb meaning ‘to substitute one for another.’
There are no guarantees in life, which is why good planning in the decision phase is helpful when deciding to change.
So, if you find yourself deciding to change it can be helpful to practice the rational thought, “I’d really, really, really, like this change to go well, and I will do all I can to make it so, and I also understand it might not go as planned because there are no guarantees in life; however, I will deal with that if it should arise.”
Learn to free yourself from irrational doubt. Question yourself on how you view your obstacles. Do you expect others to change? Are you holding yourself accountable for things you want to change in your life? Do you spend more time focusing on the negative outcome of change rather than planning for the change itself?
There will always be obstacles to face in life, even with the best plans. But with flexible, rational, thinking you can learn to navigate obstacles better. Sometimes we can find ways to remove obstacles from in front of us. Other times we need to change tack and find a way around the sides. And sometimes we just need to back away and take a different path.
Change isn’t always quick or linear or how we planned, yet change can be easy. If you can learn to become flexible in thought, change your view of the problem and take responsibility for change happening, then who knows what you might achieve.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Jul 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Coster, D. (2013). Change is Easy, But Sometimes We Don’t Realize It. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 26, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/07/13/change-is-easy-but-sometimes-we-dont-realize-it/