Change Your Mind

The 500 BCE Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only constant in life is change.” These wise words have remained steadfast over the centuries, and today, there’s an accelerated pace of change that’s sometimes difficult to absorb.

Change, inevitable as it is, is not always easy. There is comfort in the familiar, the routine, and the rote. Fear of change is often rooted in not wanting to disturb our existing ways, alter our beliefs, or adopt new methods. Doing so means giving up control and trusting that others might have found a better answer. Unfortunately, we can deceive ourselves into thinking that our way of doing something is still right despite clues that what once was effective no longer serves us well.

Fast forward many centuries, and the words of Benjamin Franklin add to Heraclitus’ observation: “When you are finished changing, you are finished.”

When we get stuck in old patterns, thoughts, or actions, it’s time to open the door to new possibilities to avoid living in the past, stagnating, or feelings of helplessness and depression. Fighting to the finish takes on an adverse meaning if it means fighting to preserve our ego rather than explore new options.

Start small. Pick one thing you’d like to change – how you react when someone presses your buttons, how you express yourself when frustrated with clients, how you interact with others, blame others for misfortune, or any habit that impacts health and well-being.

This first step can be challenging as it means admitting our current way of operating is no longer working well. If you recognize by continuing the same behaviour or action, the outcome will likely be the same; congratulations – you’ve taken an irreversible step towards self-awareness. The tendency to repeat ineffective actions is sometimes referred to as doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. For example, regularly judging others or spreading rumours about a competitor can earn you a reputation for being fearful of competition and insecure – the opposite of what you might be trying to achieve. Knocking others down doesn’t build you up, yet it’s an easy habit to hide behind.

Using this example, decide what you want to achieve. Small steps usually build long-term effectiveness, so decide to listen more than you talk, pause, think before reacting, and work to find solutions and build collaboration. Then practice it.

Be mindful that you might not achieve your desired change overnight, as it also takes discipline and committed practice to reach any lasting goal. Trust that you’ll eventually accomplish your objective using aligned actions and attitudes.

It’s normal to feel vulnerable with any change.  When altering a current way of operating or being, the closer we reach the edge of our comfort zone, the more likely we feel uncomfortable, and our mind urges us to step back into old patterns. Don’t give up, and keep moving forward, even at a slower pace.  Any change, even if modest, is a move forward.

Moving forward means taking consistent and authentic action that pushes our existing limits and upgrades us to a new way of being. In other words, we change.

As always, we include a favourite quote (some things don’t change!)

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

  • George Bernard Shaw