Positive change

Why Change Is So Hard

Ross.Findon

The call for change often comes when we least expect it. Sometimes it comes in the form of a whisper so soft that we have to strain to hear it. Other times it comes in the form of a roar we cannot ignore. But when that little voice in our head becomes so loud that we cannot ignore it anymore, the potential for change suddenly becomes a reality we must courageously face.

Yet oftentimes as exciting as change can be, many of us resist it because, quite frankly, it can also be terrifying. In fact, the idea of change can sometimes be so daunting that it has the power to immediately transport us right back to a time when we had to face a super scary change, like the first day of kindergarten when we felt like we might lose our breakfast right on top of our brand new shoes. Yikes. The cold, harsh reality is that when we step outside our comfort zones, it is an uncomfortable place to be at first. As author and research professor Brené Brown states, “You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.”

Change is an inevitable part of life. It comes in many forms whether it is something we embrace like new love or something we abhor like an unanticipated job loss. Sometimes change makes us want to curl up in the fetal position and shut out the world. Other times change lightens our load and makes us feel like leaping with joy. Sometimes it is fun just to talk about change. What if I moved to Europe and lived off my savings for a year? What if I started my own business and escaped the corporate nightmare I’ve been enduring for entirely too long? What if I bungee-jumped off a bridge with a Go-Pro attached to my helmet? It is while talking about change in its most initial stages that we realize we are craving something new. But what is it really and how do we find a way to move forward from here?

Will Craig, author of Living the Hero’s Journey, says that the quickest way—and perhaps the only way—to discover our true destiny is to truly know ourselves. In order to push through the fear, identify a clear path, effectively make decisions, and take action, we must first be able to identify and understand not only our strengths and passions, but also our weaknesses and limitations. We must also be prepared to answer introspective questions that dig deep and force us to look within for the answers.

It is incredibly important that while on this journey through life to be honest with yourself about the possibility of change. In the end, is it is you who is living your journey: not your spouse, not your parents, not your children, not your friends, and not your next-door neighbor. You, and only you, hold the key to unlock and walk through the door of change or throw the key away and stay where you are for now. No matter what, take the time to work through each decision with help from an accountability partner who does not have an agenda, but instead, is capable of guiding you to becoming the best version of you.

Change is powerful. It is scary. It is an action-packed roller coaster ride through the unknown. Change is what fuels our journey through life, keeps us from being stagnant, and ultimately transforms us into the people we were meant to be.

Change is hard. Find a way. Your destiny is waiting.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

 

How to Avoid Catching Negativity

A cold is contagious. The flu is contagious. But the one thing that is more contagious than anything is negativity. Thankfully, all of us have a choice every day whether to be a carrier of the kind of attitude that spreads faster than anything else in life.

Think about what happens when you encounter someone in the hallway at work. You smile and innocently ask, “How’s your day going?”

When their response is something like, “Oh, it could be better,” or “God awful,” or “I’ll be glad when it’s over!”, our natural instinct is to sympathize and then ask, “Why, what happened?” Before we know it, suddenly our need to relate prompts us to nod our heads in agreement and subsequently grumble about things that we may have brushed off as insignificant only moments earlier. And so the cycle begins.

Now as we part ways with that person, we have sadly become a carrier of the same infectious pessimistic attitude. Even worse yet, our smile may have disappeared, our heart rate may have increased, and we may not have the same spring in our step. Luckily, all hope for staying positive, even when those around you aren’t, is not lost. By following these five simple steps, it is possible to be sympathetic to someone who is suffering while still managing to avoid catching a negative attitude:

Believe that you have control over everything, including your mindset. No one forces you to take on a negative view of anything in life. We are all on this earth to love and learn. When looking at each experience in life as a lesson, it becomes possible to transform negativity into positive energy. Silently repeat to yourself throughout every day, “I am in control.”

Find a way to gracefully move away from negativity to a place of peace. While conversing with someone who is drowning in pessimism, remember to breathe while discovering a balance between feeling empathy and not transforming into a sponge. Smile and nod, pat their hand, and show them that you care. But ending it there and not carrying the attitude with you throughout the rest of the day empowers you to stop the cycle.

Focus on the positive aspects of every day. No matter what happens, there is always good in every day. Perhaps a stranger opened the door for you or your dog greeted you at the end of a long day with a slobbery kiss. Maybe a friend called unexpectedly and invited you to dinner. When feeling yourself caught up in a negative cycle, train your mind to concentrate on the good in the world. If you are somehow not able to find the good in others, perform a random act of kindness yourself.

Practice gratitude for the simplest of gifts. Many of us take the simplest things for granted. Not everyone in the world has clean water and a warm bed. Others do not have good medical care or a house without a leaky roof. When those surrounding you attempt to pull you into their darkness, focus on what you have, not on what you do not have.

Surround yourself with friends and family who share your attitude that life will always get better. While sometimes it is not possible to avoid negative people, it is possible to create a squad of supporters who believe in you, encourage you to follow your dreams, and love you unconditionally. If you are not receiving what you need from anyone in your life, it is perfectly okay to give yourself permission to move on.

When you wake up tomorrow and begin preparing for a new day, remember this: No matter what you are wearing on the outside, it is the attitude you are wearing on the inside that people remember more. Now go tackle the world.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

Release Your Need to Be Right

Photo by Vicky DeCoster

Photo by Vicky DeCoster

There are times when it’s important to be right like when taking away the keys from an impaired driver or performing CPR to save a life. But in today’s divided world, the need to be right is often ruling many conversations and discussions, either in person or online. Expending all our energy in an attempt to sway someone to believe the way we do can be exhausting and frequently limits us in listening to and accepting the views of others. So is it really possible to release our need to be right all the time?

There is no question we all want to be heard. Our opinions, thoughts, and feelings are important. But it is equally as important to stop talking and listen during a conversation with loved ones or strangers on the subway or a Facebook friend. Truth be known, we are not all alike in how we view the world around us. Our perspectives are different and that’s a good thing. When we listen to and honor the opinions of others—even when we disagree—we not only open ourselves to new possibilities, but also to new ways of thinking. Simply put, letting go of our need to be right expands our knowledge of the world around us.

In breaking old habits such as the need to be right, it is sometimes helpful to utilize these three tips:

Take a deep breath. During a passionate or heated conversation, it is easy to become defensive when believing, “I must convince this person to think exactly how I do.” Instead of using all your energy to sway the person to your side, instead take a deep breath to remind yourself that it is okay if we all view a situation a little differently.

Really listen. Instead of thinking about what to say next to defend your own views, really listen to the other party (or parties) in the conversation. Everyone offers a unique perspective. Even if you passionately disagree, listen anyway. Remember, we are all in this world to learn. If you are always talking over others, how will you learn?

Express gratitude. Thank them for expressing their opinion. You might say, “I appreciate your opinion. I may not always agree with you, but I enjoy that we can have a respectful conversation with each other.” It is a blessing often taken for granted that we live in a country where we are free to express our opinions.

Releasing your need to be right comes with the possibility of viewing your life—and those around you—in a new way. It is really okay if they do not think the same way you do. Think about it. How many times have you actually changed someone’s mind when they firmly believed they are right? When you let go of your need to be right, you allow yourself to be free. Your opinions belong to no one else but you. And that feels pretty darn good.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

Three Ways to Expand Your Comfort Zone Today

Stagnancy in life can be stifling. When it seems like we are simply treading water and going nowhere, the resulting apathy has the power to rob us of energy and, worse yet, hope. Truth be known, we all feel safer when we are functioning within a comfort zone where we can easily predict our days and even what might happen next.

Photo by Vicky DeCoster

Photo by Vicky DeCoster

Sometimes the possibility of change can seem overwhelming and even frightening. So, how does one find a way to overcome long-held fears, break down the walls that surround a comfort zone, and begin believing that you can achieve your dreams? Here are three ways you can begin expanding your own comfort zone today:

  1. Do one thing you pledged to never do in your lifetime. Whether it is singing karaoke in front of a crowd of strangers or holding a snake, prove to yourself that you can conquer your nervousness and actually do something you never thought was possible. When tackling real change, this exercise will help you to remember all the times when you overcame self-imposed hurdles and lived to tell about it.

  2. Plan an adventure. Have you ever wanted to backpack in the mountains? Run a marathon? Take a class in rock climbing? Learn to deep sea fish? Expanding your comfort zone to include new adventures will not only test your character, tenacity, and drive to work past obstacles, but will also prove that you are capable of resolving daily challenges in innovative and creative ways.

  3. Try something new. Whether your new thing is sampling a plateful of frog legs or ice skating at Rockefeller Center, seek to experience all that life has to offer. Even if you end up pledging in front of the waiter to never eat frog legs again or swearing you'll never lace up a pair of ice skates in your lifetime, these experiences still have the power to transform your mindset to believe that you can walk through fear to test change—even if it turns out that it is not right for you.

When we take one small step at a time to expand our comfort zones—and survive—it is conceivable to teach ourselves that life is an adventure meant to be embraced, loved, and, most importantly, lived to the fullest.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.