Can People Change? Yes!
Happy Thursday! Our LTL community is committed to changing ourselves for the better. This week, we are building up that muscle, that ability to change. The main article is about the process of changing. In addition, we will have DAILY articles re-posted to Facebook and Twitter about improving our values, thoughts, and feelings. Further support is in our Wise Words, Inspiration, and Love Note. Enjoy!
– With Love and Hope,
PS. We just joined Twitter. Spread the word!
Yes! Change is constant in all our lives.
THREE AREAS OF CHANGE
When we want to change*, we need to focus on three things: our values, our thinking, and our feelings. Change automatically occurs in all three areas every day, but some changes are good, some are bad, and most are neutral.
We need to learn how to be consciously aware of our own change process instead of remaining unaware and letting them “happen to us.” Changes in values, thinking, and feelings all happen at different rates and in different ways.
WHAT TO CHANGE
Consider changing any value, thought, or feeling which causes internal pain (like guilt or anxiety) or external pain (like arguments or problems in relationships).
CHANGING OUR VALUES
We change our values very easily, but they must be changed one at a time and we have thousands of them.
All you need to do to change a value is notice the evidence and then change your mind.
Suppose you once thought: “Children should be seen but not heard,” but you changed your mind one day when you noticed that children say many wise things. Now your value might be: “We should listen to what children have to say.”
You simply changed your mind after seeing convincing evidence.
CHANGING OUR THINKING
We change our thinking whenever we learn. For some this is easy, for others it is hard. It depends on whether we are free to learn.
Am I Free To Learn?
Ask yourself these questions:
Is it OK with me to learn about this, no matter how it comes out?
Am I willing to learn or am I trying to convince myself that I’ve been right all along?
Am I willing to learn or am I too invested in how I feel it “must” come out?
Most of us feel pretty strongly about abortion. The central question about abortion is: “When does life begin?” How many of us could honestly say that if this question could be answered once and for all we would be free to learn the truth?
Would we have a vested interest in thinking we were right all along? Would we accept proof without being too invested in how we want it to come out?
CHANGING OUR FEELINGS
Changing our feelings is extremely difficult compared to the other changes.
We feel what we feel because many different experiences, accumulated over many years, have convinced us that what we feel is good for us, or even that it is needed. When we try to change a feeling we think we are going against our own experience.
Discussion and Example:
We all know scared people, angry people, and sad people. We describe them in this way because their chronic bad feeling can be seen in almost everything they say and do. These people want to change how they feel, but how can they do it?
People with chronic bad feelings need to accumulate many, many experiences which, when taken together, outweigh the past experiences which made them feel so bad. They need to learn to look for such experiences, to invite such experiences, to notice such experiences when they happen, and to allow themselves to feel better after each of them.
You can change values, thinking, and temporary bad feelings on your own, but you’ll probably need a relationship with a therapist to help you change chronic bad feelings.
BE IN CHARGE OF YOUR OWN CHANGE
You are going to keep changing all your life.
Somebody who really knows you well should be in charge of all of this change.
Expect change from now on, and, as much as possible, make it go in the direction you choose!
– Tony Schirtzinger is an accomplished writer and therapist. See more of his 150 articles at helpyourselftherapy.com
* LeadWrite.org adds: We should not get stuck waiting for a partner to change. Change comes when a person wants to change, and not one second earlier. You can ask, you can mention, but don’t hang around. Especially if you are being abused, don’t wait for them to change. The only one you can control is yourself.