Small Changes

Two of the clients I saw yesterday were talking about frustrations they were experiencing in their lives. Not happy with work situations, relationships, or ways of being in the world. The tendency when you get clear that something isn’t working in your life is to immediately do something to try to fix it. Anything. Especially if there’s emotional pain tied in with the behavior. The problem with this reactive process is that you often wind up creating some other situation that you’re equally unhappy with. It may look different for a while, but eventually you’re going to find that it’s not really an improvement.

That’s why I almost always recommend small changes. As a matter of fact, what I typically recommend is making no changes at all for a while. I encourage people to stay where they are and study the lay of the land. Look at the situation from many angles. What this usually does is turn up the heat because it’s painful to sit in a situation that is very uncomfortable for any length of time. But as I counsel people to stay and study the situation, I also direct them to become more aware of what are the patterns that got them into the situation in the first place. How did they create this dynamic? How did these patterns use to serve them in the past?

What’s required in order to do this work, is an enhanced ability to tolerate emotional pain. What people generally find, though, is that when they consciously shift from the strategy of distracting themselves from their problems, to choosing to stay and get curious about them, that their tolerance level goes way up. By choosing to stay with a feeling and learn from it, the whole identification with being a victim of the situation can just evaporate. In this case, knowledge truly is power. When you start to see that you’re the one who sets yourself up to live at a subsistence level or have dissatisfying relationships, for whatever reasons, then you will also see that you have the power to do something different.

But it still might not be time to “make that change”. Stew a little longer and see what else appears. It may become apparent that there are parts of you that don’t want more material or emotional abundance-or that it threatens them in some way. Isn’t that interesting? These are usually younger and less developed parts of the self and hardly ever given a voice. Now it’s time to let them speak and hear their concerns. Hearing these younger parts in an open and nonjudgmental way will help them feel like they’re being taken care of,and less likely to sabotage when you do make a change. Once you’ve done this work (and you may need to hear from a few other “selves” before you’ve got a holistic view of things,) you will probably know what to do. You will be acting out of a place of awareness and wholeness so you’ve be much less likely to get a kickback from whatever action you take. At that point, the small change you do make will move you in the direction you truly want to go.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 at 10:44 am and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


2 Responses to “Small Changes”

  1. kurt steger Says:

    So when I here words of support like this, I realize I am being facilitated into my own power. I become responsible for all my life and no longer am I the victim of my circumstance. This is easy to handle in the areas I feel so self assured but those deep dark crevices that don’t look so pretty the places I want to hide from, deny and repress, well surly those places are someone else’s fault. Because aren’t those out there doing “it” to me? They are being such jerks and making me feel so bad….”about myself”? Oh God is it about myself, am I here alone only with me? Well if that’s the case I may as well get to know this me! All of me and sit with the uncomfortable parts long enough to become intimate, long enough to understand the choices I make and long enough to see clearly how I want this life that is mine to look and then take the steps to be congruent to that vision. No longer a victim, now living in the power of my conscious choices this is how I want to be but first to take stock in why I am in the place I have chosen to be in now.
    Thanks for your words of Wisdom Tom; I find them highly inspirational to be the man I truly want to be.

  2. Cat Norris Says:

    Nice blogging, Tom! Congratulations. Great, timely and deep topics.

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