How To Change Yourself – Really!

You want to change.  red flower - with raindrops

You’re perfect, of course.  But you want to be a little more perfect in, say, one small area.

Just wanting something doesn’t usually make it happen.  It has been said that thought cannot change an emotion, but action can.  Change happens from directed action.

Your thoughts give those directions to your actions.

You want to eat sweet food less?  “I’ve been thinking about how to do it for a while.” Stop thinking and just start doing.  Give yourself permission to decide.

It may be a difficult process to start, but you will have to find your replacement habit.  For example, focus on grains. Focus on nuts. Focus on lettuce or vegetables or something else you at least like a little bit.  Even try smelling flowers or other scents so your nose has a new odor to enjoy.

Also, hard to believe, but you may not really be perfect.  You may eat sweets even when you thought you wouldn’t, couldn’t, or shouldn’t have. 

Find inspiration in others.

Need more help in your habit changing?  Get inspired by others.  Read about it. Talk about it. Find others who know more than you.  Find online blogs or articles written by people who stopped eating sweets (or whatever it is you’re trying to do).

Or if it’s private, not something you want take a chance in sharing yet, then do this research and thought changing a little more quietly.  Read general information that relates to your interests, and connect it to your situation.

Focus on who you want to be.

Think about the person you want to become.  Usually it will be something you can find in other people.  Focus on those people who do this successfully.  It can help to learn how these people developed in their lives.   Find a way to focus on the successful version of those actions and thoughts you want to become part of your life.  Copy these actions, either in your mind or with your actions.

Change takes time to be permanent.

Allow yourself time.  Allow pauses – when you don’t seem to make progress.  Allow slippages - those times when you go back to old behaviors.  Forgive yourself for what you did (forgiveness can be enabling and inspiring). 

If it can work for your sitation, then blend the old and new. Using our diet example, if you put sugar on the nuts and grains you eat, because you can’t just stop eating sweet food right away. For smokers who stop smoking, there are nicotine patches to make the nicotine cessation happen gradually.  You can develop your change strategy for your own situation, and allow for adapting over time.

What are you doing now?

When we realize – in this moment – that we can think and act how we want, then we can act on that potential.  Each moment brings a chance to change.  

Every minute, we decide how to express our personalities.  Sometimes we are courteous, sometimes we are impatient.  We can choose to think about revenge, or we can choose to think about forgiveness and living the idea “success is the best revenge.” 

The successful way to stop focusing on something is to replace it with focus on another thing.

It’s brain inertia – you keep going in one direction with your thoughts until you make a change.  If you want to not think of an ex-friend, then make new friends.  Make friends that are different, who will create new types of experiences and memories.  Creating new thoughts and memories happens all of the time, and it is how we became who we are.

Use time to help change happen.  We all can change.  Why?  Because we are adaptive.  We adapt to our situation.  Adapting can take time, but it does happen.  Our brains reshape over time like plastic.

We can, using brain and mind plasticity, change our reactions to situations.  To summarize, we change when we decide to focus on something new, and time helps us adapt to these changes.

About Paul Worsham