There’s a simple way you can start to change your life.
Think about one thing you want to change. Now, think back over the past several years—perhaps even the course of your whole life.
With that one thing in mind, can you see a pattern?
Growing up, I was forever trying to fix things. Whenever something didn’t seem to fit with how I thought things should be, I would immediately jump into action, take “control” and try to bend circumstances to my will.
I put a lot of pressure on myself to always make things “right.”
Someone had a problem? I’d jump in to help them fix it whether they wanted it or not.
As a child, a teenager, and a young adult, I felt like I had to be right, had to have the answer, had to be able to fix every problem. Talk about stressful! No one can be right or have the answers all the time. It took me years to learn, but I know this to be true: How you do one thing is how you do everything.
When you want to change your life, there are a lot of things you can do: you can read personal growth books, listen to podcasts, meditate, or start journaling. And all those things are useful—as long as they help you do this:
Get down to the root cause of what you want to change
Ask yourself: What is the one thing that got me to where I am today? The answer may surprise you. It’s seldom what you think it is, never due to circumstance, and it’s not just the way you are or always have been.
What it is, is the endless looping repetition of one thought. You see, one thought, when unconsciously practiced and repeated over and over again, becomes a belief.
My thought was, “I have to find the answer and make it right, now.”
Without realizing it, I’d been practicing this thought for years—to the point that it had become an ingrained part of who I was. Not only that, I had lots of supporting beliefs to go along with it. Why ask for permission if you’re sure you know the answer? Just fix it; it’s easier for everyone if I just take control and make things right; and, it’s better to be right than wrong, to name a few.
And the root cause? I felt like I had to make things right because of a need for control in my life and approval from others.
Any of this sound familiar?
How to change your life
While I was busy running around trying to fix everything for everybody, I was missing out on truly living and enjoying my own life. My first reflex was to help with all the “little” problems going on around me—problems that weren’t mine to solve. I was spending so much time and energy trying to fix things for others that I wasn’t paying attention to those things in my life that mattered most.
I was well into raising my three kids before I ever realized what I was doing. Once I did, it was a very difficult habit to break. It had become such a natural reaction to what was going on around me. But I wasn’t doing anyone any favors, not my friends, my clients, my kids, and least of all, myself.
I wanted to stop, but that’s generally easier said than done. It’s hard to let go of a need for control and the desire for approval. In fact, it’s a very long process indeed. Over time, I’ve come to realize that the only way to change your life is to deliberately focus your attention and energy on practicing a new thought that replaces the old, repetitive thought that doesn’t serve you.
In my case, my old thought of, “I have to find the answer and make it right, now,” became, “I’m worthy of love—with or without having all the answers.”
This new belief is grounded in compassion for myself. With it, I can love myself as I am, focus on what matters most to me, and have the freedom to be myself.
What is one belief you need to change? What would you want to believe instead?