Have you ever noticed how some people thrive on change (or even full-on chaos), while others seem to be completely undone by the slightest deviations to the norm?
How about people who create drama throughout their lives, but don’t handle it well when it manifests?
Change is an everyday part of every life, yet we resist planning for it. Often, we try to act as if it’s not happening, and hope that denial of its existence will make it disappear.
I believe that there is a desire for change hard-wired into each of us at an unconscious level, because at that level we know that change/evolution/transition IS the way of the universe. It IS what makes everything work, so our inner self seeks it out, even if our conscious self becomes a hot mess because of it.
From my upcoming book, ‘The Law of Transition’:
“At some point, in some manner, and to some greater or lesser degree, absolutely everything in your personal and professional lives is going to change. In reality, it’s happening all of the time; NOT just at recognizable moments.
What do we know about change in our lives?
It CAN’T be avoided – change is inevitable.
It CAN’T be controlled – there is no mechanism to turn it on or off, or to opt out of the program.
It CAN be influenced – just like the Law of Attraction.
If you are prepared to use it, change can be a tool in your life, rather than an obstacle to be feared or avoided. It can be your ally, rather than your enemy.”
Preparing yourself for life’s curveballs is easier to do if you are pro-active. Insurance, in all its forms, is an example. While we may hate paying for an intangible commodity we never want to use, we feel extreme gratitude that we did, if the day comes that we need it.
But there’s more to worry about than having the money to pay for health care or funeral expenses. The truth is that the most difficult piece of the puzzle to manage is often our mental state. Keeping with the insurance theme, sure, it’s nice to know that if your spouse dies you’re going to be financially OK, but there’s no insurance for feelings of loneliness. Or sadness, boredom, loss, fear, frustration or confusion.
And what about things you may not ever think will happen? At least when you buy insurance, you have some idea what you’re preparing for. But how do you make yourself psychologically ready for the unknown? How do you get ready for:
All of these things can happen in the blink of an eye, alone or in concert, and nothing you learned in school is going to help you cope with the new reality that, for instance, your husband/wife emptied the bank accounts and left you and the kids without warning.
You didn’t take any classes on how to respond emotionally when the doctor tells you that you (or a loved one) have cancer.
If you’re a man, chances are good that, in large part, you define who you are by what you do for a living. If your job goes away, whether by choice or not, you’re highly likely to struggle for quite a while (in some cases, years) with how to feel like you have meaning in this world.
The truth is that if you “have your head on straight,” you’ll find it much easier to weather any or all of these storms when they come. And come they will – some of them, more than once.
For example, if your perspective about your brother’s gambling problem – the one that has resulted in crippling debt, ruined his marriage and strained his relationship with your whole family – is one of detachment and objectivity, rather than pity and enablement and denial, you’re going to be a happier person. You’ll also be in a far better position to take action in a manner that could actually help your brother with his issue.
Translated, that means you need to hold your own self interest as the highest priority. Why is this the goal? For the same reason adults traveling with children are instructed on every flight to put the oxygen mask on themselves first; if you don’t take care of yourself first, there is a real possibility that you won’t have the time or capacity to help anyone else effectively.
One very common occurrence in a situation such as a family member with an addiction is that the parents try to help by pretending the problem doesn’t exist, giving the person money, lodging, cars, etc., in the hopes that they’ll somehow see the light and get better.
This is enabling, and is translated in the person’s mind as either condonation or a weakness to be exploited. Their response is to continue, and often, amplify their actions. The result is a deeper hole for them, and greater levels of stress, anxiety and heartbreak for those who care most about them.
On the other hand, if the parents understood that enabling actions only make things worse for the very person they most want to help, they would find it easier to stand strong in the face of adversity. Taking on a part (or all) of another person’s responsibility, or damaging your own financial, health or emotional state does not help the other person. Only strength will help.
You cannot get sick enough to help another person get healthy. But a healthy person can share how to eat better, exercise more, etc.
You cannot be poor enough to help another person get rich. But a rich person can create opportunity for others to improve their own financial situations.
You cannot get unhappy enough to help another person feel better about themselves. But a happy person can share a new perspective with someone feeling dejected, heartbroken, frustrated, etc.
It’s time for a caveat. Everybody and his brother are eager to help others; eager to give advice, and I’m going to give you some in just a minute. But I want you to think for just a minute about how that happens…
Person A describes a problem they have in their life to person B. Typically, B doesn’t ask many questions, but proceeds to tell A what they “should” do. The flaw in this is that B is assuming A’s desired outcome. If A followed B’s advice, they might not be happy with the result, even though it might do exactly what B said it would.
Did you catch the key word? ‘Happy’ is the crux of the problem. It’s entirely possible that A doesn’t want to be happy! Truth be told, they probably wouldn’t be aware of that, but how many people do you know who seem to bounce from one problem to the next? These are people who don’t know how to be happy, satisfied or content.
So here’s the caveat: The following advice is given with the assumption that you want to be happier today than you were yesterday, and happier tomorrow than today, and that you would like to create some momentum in your life in that direction. The implied phrase that is silently tacked onto the tail end of many of the sentences below is, “…if you want to be happy.”
Your first responsibility is to yourself. But what to do? Where do you buy mindset insurance? Answer:
In books, tapes, CDs, seminars, films and videos that hold messages of hope, courage and personal responsibility.
In conversations that challenge your way of thinking; that remind you that if you’re struggling, there is still hope; that whatever your situation, it is likely temporary, and others have been through it before you and come out the other side empowered.
In mentors and coaches who lovingly hold you accountable to your self, with wisdom and insight, and without letting you play the victim card – for yourself or anyone else.
In the simple act of facing your fears with honesty and acceptance.
We spend our entire lives looking for evidence that supports the programs we run in our minds about how life works. Evidence that challenges our beliefs is summarily dismissed. If your evidence is supporting programs that make you afraid; that tell you you are a victim of life; that “that’s just the way it is”; that you get angry easily because you’re Italian or Irish or Latino or whatever; that you can’t learn something new because you’re too old, too young, too stupid or too late; that you can’t lose weight, get rich, get healthy or get the pretty girl…
If your evidence is supporting any of those paradigms, you need to change the way you view the world, and there is only one way to do that: invest in mindset insurance. Start today. Start now. Turn off the TV news. Stop following people on Facebook who are mad – about anything. Stop participating in complaint conversations. LOOK for better-feeling evidence. I guarantee you it’s all around. I also guarantee that your life will change, faster than you ever imagined possible.