The Secret of Change

Chapter I – Confident (Prepare To Change, You Can Do It)

A Radical Self-Assessment

There is no better way to start the change in one’s being than to have a radical assessment of one’s personality. Yes, the best place to begin changes in one’s world is within oneself. The reason for this is the fact that the only organism in this world with which we have a total control is our very own self. If we still have the illusion that changing the outside world would radically change the inside, we are mistaken. Our very own self is the only platform of which we should have perfect control, and for this reason, the best possible change can only start from within.

Now, if we want to change something in ourselves we should know which aspect of ourselves need change. Henceforth, we need a radical self-assessment. What I mean is that we should discover the areas in our life which need to be changed. There are different aspects and areas of our life. I have learned from my college psychology class that there are five important aspects or areas of our life. First, there is the physical aspect which includes our very own body, our instincts, and our bones and muscles. Second, there is the emotional aspect of our life which includes the different emotions which we daily experience and the motivations which prod us to action. Third, there is the intellectual aspect of our life which includes our intellectual skills, our IQ, our logical perspective, and all the mental processes we indulge in every day. Fourth, there is the social aspect of our life which includes our interactions with our fellow human beings, our works, and even our relationship with our significant others, relatives, and friends.

Lastly, there is the spiritual aspect of our life which includes our belief system and our relationship with the higher beings. If we want to make some substantial changes in our life, we need to make a thorough assessment of these five aspects and find out which are the dark and grey areas which need to be changed and developed. Only then could we say that we’ve made a radical assessment of our personality if we were able to assess objectively these five aspects of our life. We can do this assessment of ourselves by listing down the different areas of our lives which are veering towards the positive and the negative sides. A realistic assessment of these five areas can give us an objective view of which areas of our life necessitate change.

Be Self-satisfied And You’ll Stagnate

It is very easy to be smugly indulged in our present existence to a point that we resist change, thinking that there is no need for change because the present is definitely comfortable and working well. Yet, this kind of attitude may lead to self-stagnation while the rest of the world is making progress in great strides. We all know what happens if we stagnate, we fail to adapt to the ever-changing situation and we will be left out. A perfect example of nature of stagnation is the stagnant pond with no exit points. The water becomes full of silt that there comes a point that the pond exudes a fetid stench. Thus, if we want to revitalize a pond, we need to improvise an exit canal which will allow the water to move out of it, and new water to come in allowing the rejuvenation of the pond.

In the same way, our self is a like a pond which needs to be renewed and revitalized every once in a while. This need for change is very apparent not only in the grander scale of life but also in the minutiae of life. In the grander scale, a
nation should improve its economy otherwise it will be left out by other economies. Likewise, superpowers should continue to improve their technologies so that other rising superpowers can never catch up with them in terms of weaponry. Empires sometimes implode from within because they become self-satisfied.

In the smaller scale, a person should always recreate himself or herself by allowing some rooms for changes in one’s life, otherwise, one will risk the prospect of stagnation which is the most pathetic thing that could ever happen to a person. When we allow the cobwebs of pessimism and lack of vitality to encroach into the very fibers of our being and we become resistant to change and development, we become defeated like a carcass left for the taking of the
vultures.

Realize The Need For Change

Change and growth will not happen if a person is not open to change. How can the floods of innovation and creativity move into our very being if we shut off every exit point for change? Change can only happen if the seedbed for change is present. In psychology, there are developmental stages in our life which we got to undergo to achieve full maturity. Yet, there are instances wherein a person may get fixated at a certain stage, unable and unwilling to progress to the next stage. We call these disorders—psychological fixations. There are fully grown-up adults who are still so much fixated at the oral stage of their life. There are mothers who could never really let go of the image of their child as a kid and thus stunt the growth of their being and their child. There are also grown up adults
who can’t seem to let go of their umbilical cord and still manifest strong dependency on their parents. Unless these guys realize their need for change and maturity, they will never be able to move to the higher stages of life.

So the first demand for a positive change is to realize that there is a need for change. This realization may come to a person if he/she makes an objective assessment of the different areas of his/her own life. Moreover, sometimes, a good advice based on an observation of another person can make a person realize that there is a need for a change in a person’s life. This realization may also come to us by allowing ourselves to make a paradigm shift. If we try to see things from a different perspective, we may be able to see the dark and grey areas of our life, and we may be inspired to change them. This realization is the beginning of our growth and progress and definitely the onset of maturity and
improvement.

The Openness To Change

There are many hurdles which we have to overcome to achieve a substantial change in our life. First, there is the inertia—the force which drags us to remain in our present situation and to avoid the prospect of change. This is a powerful force which is akin to the force of gravity. We need another sizeable amount of force to get out of this inertia. Second, there is the internal resistance such as our mental programs of fear and phobias, emotional baggage, and lack of self-confidence.

These internal forces are powerful emotional and mental habits which prevent us from opening ourselves to the necessary changes in our life. To overcome these hurdles in our progress, we need to take the initial step, and that first step is the desire to alter our negative subconscious programs. Let me give you a good example: many among us fear the prospect of speaking in front of a crowd. I know a friend of mine who is by nature very eloquent, yet whenever he is asked to speak in front of a crowd, he would shrink back and recoil. I asked him why he is always naively tongue-tied every time he is asked to speak in front of an anonymous crowd. His answer is that he always hears an inner voice that says he will be embarrassed if he makes mistake. The prospect of embarrassment is holding him back from making progress in his rhetorical skill.

This inner program, which was probably infused into his subconscious mind, early on in his life, has been so strong and capable of preventing him from harnessing his skill. It is so powerful enough that he is hampered from achieving something substantial using his God-given talent for public speaking. He could overcome this snag by developing a strong desire to debunk the old program in his subconscious mind and replacing it with a confident and self-assured belief in his very own self.

We can become aware of these negative mental programs by listening to our self-talk. You may be wondering what self-talk is. It is not the kind of stuff which psychotic people do—talking to their very own selves. Well, self-talk is the
process of talking to oneself when one is alone. This talk may not be expressed audibly, and all of us do this kind of talk. It is an inner conversation between our subconscious mind and the conscious mind. In the case of the above-mentioned example, the guy has the natural flair for public speaking. Yet, there is an inner voice that tells him that he is not a good speaker. Though his conscious mind knows that he got the talent for public speaking, his subconscious mind argues with his conscious mind that he is not a good speaker. So every time he is about to climb the platform and render a thunderous speech, he would get involved in a self-talk wherein his subconscious mind would argue that he is indeed not a good speaker. He may be consciously aware of the fact that he has the making of  a brilliant speaker, but his inner program is telling him he is not. This negative subconscious program may be so debilitating that many among us often shy away from success because of the instigation of these negative programs.

So to debunk these negative programs and lay the ground for change, we need to prepare our inner self by being aware of these negative inner programs and slowly altering these negative programs with the opposite positive programs. Awareness of these negative programs can create an inner desire for change, and the creation of this inner desire for change can be the necessary impetus that can prod a person towards change.

The Cost-benefit Analysis Of A Potential Change

One way to convince oneself that there is a need for change is by doing a cost-benefit analysis of a potential change. There are payoffs if we open ourselves to change. If we understand the payoffs derivable from change, we can be encouraged to change, and we can unleash the impetus to open ourselves to change. People don’t usually change because they don’t realize what they could gain via change. Likewise, people are not moved to action if they don’t realize the possible rewards they could gain from change. It is very difficult to convince a group of people to accept a new concept if they don’t see the benefits they could derive from that concept. In the same way, it is difficult to opt for a change if one is not convinced of the benefits of change. For this reason, a person needs to make a cost-benefit analysis of a potential change to convince his/her mind of the need for change. By doing a cost-benefit analysis of the prospect of change, one will become confident enough to take the plunge required to manifest change in our life. This knowledge of payoffs will give us the necessary drive to face the challenge of change. In the eleventh hour, when the force of inertia is pulling us back to our cocoon of comfort, and when progress and development for the better seem to be hard to come by, we can reassure ourselves to go on thinking that the rewards of change are just around the corner.

The Need To Change Vs. The Need To Control

There is another factor which hinders us from realizing the needed change in our life. This factor is due to the conflict between our need to change and the need to be always in control. There are many reasons why people won’t accept a new concept or new technology. It is because they feel they are out of control with the new concept or technology. There is always that accompanying risk of losing control every time we want to change. To change an old habit, one has to let go of the old habit in favor of a new one. To become independent, one has to let go of one’s dependency on other people. But most of us are control-freaks and don’t want to get out of our comfort zones.

The problem happens when parents seem to be incapable of letting go of the childhood perception of their children. Likewise, the problem occurs whenever an adult person can’t seem to let go of his/her dependency on her parents. In order to grow, one needs to let go of the old ways to pave the way for novel ways. Growth entails the ability to risk losing control. If one can’t be at peace with the prospect of losing a bit of control, one often tends to avoid change.

There are many instances in nature wherein we are taught that the old forms should be given up to pave the way for newer beautiful forms. The caterpillar has to let go of its squirming worm-form in order to achieve its lovely butterfly form.

Even in the spiritual realm, “one has to die to oneself to be born to eternal life,” and this dying to oneself is the surest way to achieve spiritual nirvana according to the wise men such as Jesus and Buddha. If we don’t let go of the old form in favor of the novel form, we will never achieve substantial change. The concept of change always entails a certain loss of the old self in favor of a new self. Without understanding this risk, one will never become ready to open up to change.

Change Can Either Be Self-induced Or Induced From The Outside

We are always aware of the different changes happening around our very own world. This is because modern developments have imbued almost every aspect of our life. No one is so shielded from the onslaught of modern technological changes. Even the nurturing and development of human beings nowadays are conditioned by technology. The newer generations, for example, seem to live in the virtual world and seemed detached from the old idyllic way of life. In the span of hundred years, the human world has changed so much. Yet, with regards to personality development, there are still two basic kinds of changes which may take place: there are the changes instigated internally, and there are changes engendered externally. There are self-induced changes which trickle down to the external aspect of our life. There are also external changes which can condition and produce inner changes. When we were young, we were not aware of the different external changes in our life. We were not aware that the social milieu in which we were born has already acted on our personality, molding it in a certain way. Every significant external event in our youthful life has produced an inner change of which we may not be aware because it happened prior to our reaching adulthood. External conditions may leave a mark, a new program which may influence our life subconsciously in the future. External conditioning wrought about by the social milieu in which we find ourselves can definitely produce some marks and imprints on our personality. We have passively accepted these changes because we have not yet reached the necessary maturity to decide which external factor will influence us.

Moreover, radical external changes may bring in abrupt changes in our lives. Say, for instance, those who experienced the Holocaust of WWII came out of it scathed and bruised physically or emotionally. Sometimes, we are unprepared for these external changes, but we have to adapt to them to simply survive.On the other hand, as we mature, we become capable of changing the different old habits of our personality which have been brought about by the events of our childhood and youth. Likewise, we can change some of these old mental programs in our life. If we have already reached a certain level of independence and maturity, we could qualify this kind of changes as internally-induced. As we mature, we can become confident of choosing which habits are worth keeping and which habits are worth letting go. We grow in confidence as we make progress in our personal growth and development.

Every small progress is worth the try and we can build on every small victory that we every day accomplish
towards a more substantial and holistic change in our lives in the future.

Change Should Be For The Better

Old habits are really sometimes hard to dislodge from our system. Yet, if we want to make way for changes, we need to begin looking at some of the habits which we have imbibed in our growing-up process. Aristotle once said that “we are what we repeatedly do.”Our habits are the things that we repeatedly do, and these habits make up the very core and kernel of our personality. There are people whose negative habits far outweigh their positive habits, and we can say that they have a bad personality. Likewise, there are people who have more positive habits and we term them as good people. We also say that a person is virtuous if he or she has many virtues to be proud of.

We can overturn the imbalance of bad habits over good habits by tweaking our bad habits and developing the opposite good habits. We just need to confidently take the challenge of change. Moreover, change isn’t good if it will make us worse. So always remember that if ever we decide to change, we should change for the better.

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