3 Ways to Make a Real Change
“To make a real change, we must be fully present, and that is harder than you think.”
-Abigail Cole Hardin, CLC; PNLP
By Abigail Cole Hardin, CLC; PNLP
When you’re trying to make a change, you’re going to have an unconscious resistance.
Perhaps this is why we are often unsuccessful year after year when we start to revamp and try to change our lives. But instead of waiting for the New Years’ Resolution blog to motivate us to try again, let’s just get started now!
We might already be postponing what we know we will eventually have to face. And if you are, don’t worry, you’re not alone. It might not be a conscious decision to be avoidant, but rather an unconscious drive to busy yourself with tasks, dull it with dessert, wash it down with wine, add more to your shopping cart and fill your downtime with looking at pictures of others’ lives—those are all decisions that have become routine and that seem easier to manage than to face the uneasy emotions of disappointment, loss, frustration, and grief.
To make a real change, we must be present, and that means fully facing what is going on inside of me.
“Ninety-five percent of people are dissociated” according to Dr. La Pera.
To be dissociated means that we are going through the motions, not making conscious decisions and not checking in with ourselves to get connected to our internal world of our emotions, purpose, and true desires.
Hence, we must challenge ourselves to create more self-awareness and make conscious decisions in all areas of our lives—physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
For someone who has been avoidant or just managing what is brought into their “consciousness,” this can feel overwhelming. It’s a lot to take in to be fully present. That’s why it takes time and repetition and commitment to the process.
I’m speaking from experience.
I used to be the queen of dissociation. I would check out by minimizing, rushing forward to not feel loss, and take the edge off by zoning out or scrolling, eating, drinking, and staying on surface topics that were “light and fun.”
In order for me to be fully present, I had to start stripping down the goal of dissociation— protection.
Dissociation can be good when we are not ready to face painful parts of our stories. But if we stay dissociated and never sort through the pain, it will surface in our present -whether we want it to or not.
I knew I had to make changes when my health started to fail me.
When the mind cannot handle tough emotions, it decides to dump those emotions into the body. The body holds onto them waiting for the mind to face and sort through them. I’ve learned that the mind avoids facing them at all costs (resistance), but the body never forgets.
My body remembers every loss, every hurt and every point of confusion.
I think I would have continued my pattern of dissociation if my body didn’t speak up through issues with my energy, digestion, skin, muscles, and sleep. Usually this is when we drink more coffee, add in some fiber, try a new skincare regimen, get a massage and take a sleeping pill. But I had already tried the “Band-Aid” remedies.
I needed a drastic change.
I had to get aware. I had to get conscious. I had to face my emotions. I had to admit all the habits that I thought were working for me were not. I had to change and commit to a healing process.
I’m happy to report, I’ve come a long way. My health has drastically improved and so has my mind, my emotions, and my consciousness. It has been liberating. But it has been a battle.
Remember: To be fully present takes time, repetitive practice, and commitment to a learning process.
While I’ve come a long way, I can be tempted to take the edge off with all my old habits. The only difference is, I’m conscious of my decisions. And I’m aware that there will be resistance, but I am committed to the process of staying present.
The process is worth committing to because while we think staying disconnected is protecting us from experiencing unbearable pain, it’s blocking us from experiencing indescribable joy.
Don’t let the fear of pain hold you back from experiencing all the beauty and joy and richness of life.
Take it from me, while the road to becoming fully present might be hard, it is easier than compartmentalizing your life in order to make it work. When you make the commitment to stay conscious, you will find truth, healing, peace and freedom.
SO HERE ARE 3 STEPS TO START THE PROCESS OF BEING PRESENT:
1. GET OUT-LOUD & CALL IT OUT.
Verbal Ventilation, whether it is you hearing your own voice or putting pen to paper to claim truth, is the way to get connected not only with yourself, but with your present self. I recommend daily journaling. [More about that here]. The key is commit to 30 days!
When you hear a condemning or criticizing voice from within, or you notice fear coming from seeds of doubt—call it out. Don’t “zone” out or dull it with the desserts or distraction. FACE IT. Your daily journaling will also build a new awareness of this voice and help you start a habit of stopping it.
CALL IT OUT FOR WHAT IT IS: FEAR. DOUBT. CRITICISM.
Then, counter it with COURAGE. TRUTH. GRATITUDE… OUT-LOUD!
2. SELF-NURTURE, not SELF-NUMB.
Most people don’t even know what self-nurture looks like because we usually are so harsh to our bodies—treating them as if they’re shells to get us through our days and should cooperate with our agendas.
We treat our pets better than our bodies.
So, imagine if your body was a sweet puppy or kitten. It needs food, water, and rest—but it also needs safety and nurture. When addressing your body —think and speak with kindness, not judgement. Thank your body for getting you up in the morning. Thank it for being there for you.
Because the body stores emotions that you haven’t been able to process, your body, therefore, is emotional and it can feel all the harshness and or expectations you place on it.
This might be a radical point of view to some, but when I started treating my body as if it were a sweet pet, speaking kindly, aware of its needs and meeting its needs—that’s when I began feeling better and more “in my skin.” There was a new level of awareness that got me in my present moment.
Instant, “feel-good” tactics like eating fattening foods and/or desserts or drinking alcohol, or using other substances to feel better is not nurture, it’s numbing.
Start to get conscious of your relationship with your body and detect if you are nurturing it or numbing it.
One simple tip is to put lotion on your hands, and as you do, kindly apply it. Being thoughtful of being kind to your body helps you become aware of it.
You have to treat your body with kindness, as if you are sensitive to its feelings.
Don’t sedate it or beat it to perform. Nurture.
3. GET HONEST. GET REAL.
When someone asks you how you’re doing and your answer is always “Fine,” then you’re probably not being honest and you’re not being real with them. Small talk and building rapport do have their place because it takes time to build solid, safe relationships between two individuals who are willing to get honest and get real.
So, this third step only applies to safe relationships.
First, I want to dismantle any lies right now thinking that you can heal on your own.
YOU CANNOT HEAL WITHOUT HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS. —What was hurt in relationship must be healed in relationship.
Usually when we dissociate, it is because we’ve experienced painful emotions that were from hurt relationships. To be present means that we have to risk being fully seen and fully known by others.
So, as you are learning how to associate more than dissociate, you can only learn by being present in relationship.
Start practicing with safe people.
When you get the question, “How are you doing?”—be honest.
“I’m good… but I think I’ve been avoidant of some things…”
A safe relationship will fully listen to help you process your thoughts.
So that safe person would respond, “What do mean by that or what things?”
This is your opportunity to get REAL.
“I thought my past was in my past but I notice I keep reacting like I was then with my partner now… I know it’s overreacting but I don’t understand why.”
That’s getting real.
Take the first step and get out loud with a friend. Or for sorting through your past or behavioral patterns, meet with a professional who by profession will be safe. (Determine which might be a better fit for a counselor or life coach by reading this).
This step is so important for resolving past wounds because past wounds keep us in our past and not in our present.
Applying these 3 steps are crucial to change —not only to change a habit, but to change a whole perspective of living.
New Year’s’ resolutions are a Band-Aid to the real life changes we need.
To have a life change, we need to be fully associated with life itself.
Stop dissociating, stop numbing, stop dulling, and wake up to face the pain to experience the joy.
This is the true life that we were called to live.
“for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” – Ephesians 5:14 ESV
Abigail Cole Hardin is a Certified Life Coach and a Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner for Hardin Life Resources
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