Let me know if this sounds familiar:
— You’re in a relationship that you already know isn’t the right “one” relationship for you… and yet you stay.
— You’re working a lifeless job that makes your heart sink… and yet you don’t leave.
In other words, you’re sitting there in a shitty situation that you *already know* in your heart of hearts isn’t for you… and yet you can’t seem to bring yourself to change.
For most of us, this can be a very frustrating (and scary) situation. We worry that perhaps we’re wasting the precious life that we’ve been given, or that we’re settling for a mediocre (vs. EPIC) life. We may also feel hopeless and disempowered, as if we don’t have the strength to bring about change in our lives, even if we want to.
As someone who works in the “inner transformation” world, the following questions have really stuck with me:
— What is it that motivates people to TRULY change?
— What is it that TRULY motivates people to pursue their highest self (vs. saying “f*ck it,” and flopping on the couch for another three hours of TV)?
And I don’t mean half-ass attempts at change. I don’t mean people who “guilt” or “should” themselves to death.
I mean REAL change.
When you’re committed to real change, you have that look in your eyes, the look that says it’s clear that nothing in the world can STOP you from making that change happen.
So What DOES Finally Bring about True Change?
If you were to pull most people aside and ask them this question, the most common, answers would be (a) motivation and/or (b) guilt.
MOTIVATION – Many people believe that we just need the right amount of motivation to inspire change, so we look for that perfect course or teacher or class or relationship to motivate us. We believe there is some “magic bullet” out there that will lift us up to that place where we belong and FINALLY bring out our highest game.
However, if true change isn’t yet ripe for you, all the external motivation and inspiration in the world isn’t going to do much except waste everyone’s time. I could line up every Tony Robbins and Oprah Winfrey in the world and have them blast you, one after another, with their best work and best motivational attempts. But if you aren’t ready, not much is going to happen.
GUILT – The second-most common strategy used to evoke change is to crank up the guilt.
— Want someone you love to quit smoking? Tell them how each cigarette is killing them and attack them with this every time you see them smoking.
— Want to lose 20 pounds? Keep mentally berating yourself in the mirror, telling yourself how unattractive you feel.
This is the military-type, “knock some sense into him” belief that if we just pour enough guilt and negative judgment on the problem, it will spur us into positive action and change.
And YES, for a number of people this DOES work.
Sadly though, for the vast majority of us, it doesn’t. Instead, it leaves us feeling like shit, and not much change happens.
On the flip side of this, we’ve all seen people who suddenly cross that invisible line one unremarkable day. They have this invincible look in their eyes—they’re ALL IN and nothing in the world is going to stop them from making that change.
This is the space I want to cultivate with you today.
Crossing That Invisible Line to TRUE Transformation
So what is it that causes us to cross that line and develop a burning desire to change? What is it that pushes us over that proverbial edge?
The source of true change comes down to just one word: SUFFERING.
More specifically, it happens when we reach that point where it becomes too painful NOT to change.
Suffering: Your Ally & Source of True Change
The fact is, if you’re overweight, you’re suffering. If you’re not doing your passion, you’re suffering. If you’re in a relationship with the wrong person, you’re in hell—I mean you’re suffering.
(Especially for people like you and me, who are highly sensitive to our truth.)
Suffering is your body giving you honest, real-time biofeedback of how aligned (or out of alignment) you are with your truth.
Suffering is a constant compass that tells you how close or off base you are. In that sense, suffering is your ALLY … an ally that never gives up on you because the longer you stay in that shitty situation, the worse you feel.
Entire industries are built on the backs of millions of men and women who are attempting to numb this underlying pain they suffer from because they’re living a lie. (After all, why do you think entertainment, alcohol, and antidepressants are such booming industries?)
The beautiful thing, though, is this: no matter how much we try to keep the pain at bay, the pain of living out of integrity stays with us and grows. Your pain has your back, and it will settle for nothing less than your deepest truth. It grows and grows. It spills over into your conscious life and PERSISTS amidst all your favourite forms of distraction.
Then one day you reach that tipping point where suddenly the pain of staying in the situation becomes greater than the PERCEIVED pain of stepping into the scary world of change.
Ice cream. TV. Facebook. Whatever your favourite distractions happen to be, suddenly none of them work anymore. You reach that magical tipping point where it suddenly becomes too painful to continue down that “feels like shit” path. You suddenly reach that place where you no longer CARE what is waiting for you on the other side. ANYTHING is better than staying here.
And THAT is the moment that you are TRULY ready to change.
Pain is the deliverer of true change. The suffering carries the motivation to MOVE. It is a beautiful catalyst of change. It pushes you over the edge into a life where you fully FEEL again.
Moving Forward: How Do We Speed the Process Up?
1. HONOUR WHERE YOU ARE
The biggest mistake that most people make is that they put a TON of unnecessary pressure on themselves to change when deep down they’re not yet ready.
Rushed and prodded in this fast, “pressure marketing” society, all too often we kick ourselves out of alignment with our sacred timing. Even though the “fruit is not yet ripe”, we try to RUSH and FORCE ourselves towards that critical, transformative point where change happens. This ends up looking like “shoulding”, “guilt trips”, and half-assed attempts.
I say do away with all that. Instead, honour where you are. Relax. Know that there is a sacred timing and natural development to everything. Tap into the amazing intelligence of your intuition to know where you need to be.
2. SIT WITH THE SUFFERING (AS BEST YOU CAN)
We live in a world full of people who try to stuff their uncomfortable feelings down with the endless number of distractions available (mobile phones, Facebook, games, etc.) Instead of doing this, choose to be one of the remarkable human beings who simply sits with what comes up.
SURRENDER to it. Feel it completely.
— Do you feel absolutely lost with what to do with your life? Great. Sit with the epic experience of confusion as best you can.
—Do you hate your job? Great. Really feel the “Sunday evening blues.”
If, during this exercise, you feel a powerful urge to (e.g.,) go grab a beer, instead try to last another five minutes, just sitting with it. Don’t try to do anything with it. The only goal is just to feel it. To experience it.
The result? By honouring and connecting with the suffering that is there, you stand to make a change happen more quickly in your life.
3. BONUS PRACTICE: SPEED UP THE PROCESS BY VIEWING SUFFERING AS A “WIN”
The next-level “black belt” approach to help speed up the transition out of any shitty situation is this:
Don’t just ALLOW any pain or uncomfortable feelings that come up … take it to the next level, INVITE them in, and view them coming up as a WIN.
This attitude will enable you to shift from RESISTING uncomfortable feelings as they come up to EMBRACING them, thus quickly discovering the root of what they are trying to tell you.
“What you resist, persists” is true. When you embrace whatever uncomfortable feelings or sensations come up, you also stand to dissolve them more quickly and transform them into positive energy …
vs. wasting precious life by hanging out in “distraction land” and avoiding your life.
CONCLUSION & SUMMARY
If you’re in a shitty situation that you know is out of alignment with your heart’s desire:
1) I invite you to drop common “motivation” and “guilt” strategies to evoke change. Instead, connect with the suffering that this situation is giving you. Know that this growing suffering is the root of what will move you towards true change.
2) Your suffering has your back. It stays with you, calling you towards your highest self. It settles for nothing less. View suffering as your ALLY. Over time it pulls you increasingly towards what you TRULY want, whether you like it or not. Sooner or later, a change is gonna come.
3) Simply connect and sit with your pain as best you can. Trust that this remarkable act can help you discover what these feelings are trying to tell you, and it can help bring about TRUE authentic change.
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