The Art of Letting Go: Resistance to Change

Clouds spelling the word ChangeAs I wrote before in the letting go series, attachments bring us comfort and stability, but once we make an attachment part of our identity, change becomes an enemy. Do not get me wrong, attachment is important. It is when we panic, see change as a threat and go into “fight or flight” mode (subconsciously) that things get out of control.

Some people are very terrified of change. They can manage the devil they know and although they complain about it, they do not have the skills, courage and strength to do anything different.

Fear of change creates many conflicts in relationships, even when we talk about our relationship with ourselves. It is always a conflict between one side’s attachment and the other side’s comfort zone. Whether you are on the side that wants the other to change or you are the one being asked to change, you have an attachment. The person who wants the other to change is attached to an outcome in their mind and the person who is being asked to change is attached to what they are currently doing, thinking or feeling. The desire to change someone else in this format creates a lose-lose situation. Fear of change limits movement and the desire to change limits peace of mind.

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Majority Rules

People of mixed racesThis post was inspired by Ronit’s diversity education, by our family’s life in several countries around the world, by Eden’s recent foray into academic research, by our many dealings with people of different communication styles, bust mostly by my occasional frustration of being a minority…

Having grown up in one place for 28 years and then moved to another country, Ronit and I had to change many basic assumptions about what everyone knows, how everyone thinks and what everyone expects. It is called Culture Shock. We already knew quite a bit about the United States (I had even been an exchange student there), so the change did not shock us, but boy was it different.

Now imagine going from that to Thailand! Hardly any English, driving on the left, completely different social norms and ethics, hot, humid, rainy, full of mosquitoes… What everyone did in Thailand was very different to what everyone did in Texas.

The thing is, in each one of these places, people who had grown up there and had never been anywhere else could not perceive anything other than what they had been accustomed to. To them, “everyone” was everyone they knew and that was good enough.

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The Art of Letting Go: Negative Self-Talk

Cartoon about confidencePeople think in words. Every thought, feeling and idea we have, we give it a name. Naming (or labeling) is a very easy way to experience the world. Think of the color pallet. If you work with computers, you know that when choosing a color, it is not good enough to say “red”, because there are many shades of red, but in our life as humans and not computers, whenever we talk about scarlet, burgundy, ruby, magenta, maroon, coral or rose, we simply say “red”. Life is so much easier that way.

Words can be empowering or limiting. They can be our protectors, our guardian angels, or our demons, our tormentors. People who value words very much and find their power may wonder, “How can words be limiting?”

I think they are limiting for two reasons: they cannot describe the whole range of human experiences they make it difficult to recognize change.

When making a choice about letting go of some of our habits, letting go of the power we give words is highly important and can provide a lot of comfort and peace of mind. Think about it this way: using words to describe an experience is like trying to fit a giant into a space large enough for a grain of sand.

One of the ways in which words can limit us is negative self-talk.

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How to Make Happy Choices

image_thumb[5]Although everyone would like to see a piece of the future in order to give them strength in the present, the difference between people is how much energy they spend in order to be able to predict the future. Most people would like to be able to tell the future, at least a bit, but some people are tortured by the desire to control the future by analyzing the past in order to improve the prediction of the future. I call them “the fortunetellers”.

In coaching, I meet some fortunetellers. I meet amazing people who are tortured by anxiety and are very unhappy. These people struggle with their decision making and find it hard to make decisions. If the average person takes an hour to make a decision, they need 5-10 hours to make the same decision. So they are pretty much time wasters and, being very smart people, they know time is precious, but they constantly feel they do not have enough time. In worse cases, when making a decision, they repeatedly second-guess themselves with “Was this the right/best choice? What if I checked another school/product? Did I check the back label?” Or they keep searching for the product they already bought, just to make sure they have made a good choice.

In psychology, these people are called Maximizers. The other group is called Satisficers. Research on the difference between Maximizers and Satisficers started in 1957, so it is not new science at all. A new research done in Florida in 2011 discovered that Maximizers tend to second-guess their choices and that leads to unhappiness. So if you are a Maximizer, or what I call a “fortuneteller”, you have the formula for being unhappy. If happiness is a choice, as I believe, this insight into the decision making mechanism may very well help you make happy choices.

Read more about how to make up your mind quickly

The Art of Letting Go: Painful Past

Fairy taleFrom the moment we are born, time is a great challenge for us. We learn to read the clock around the age of 6 or 7 and we build our life around the time, but we never have a good understanding of time. Although we all have the same amount of time, we treat it differently.

The movie In Time is a wonderful masterpiece about our relationship with time. The movie Tuck Everlasting is another wonderful attempt, examining life without the limitation of time. The concept of time is so interesting for me that I have dedicated a whole book to our existence in this puzzle of past, present and future. In this book, I do not claim to understand time, just to explore it. I think that time can be a servant or a master and that we can be trapped in time or freed by it.

One of the biggest miseries of life is to be trapped in a time we no longer have control over – the past. Many of my clients come to coaching to understand this and to free themselves from the pain of the past. If you have had a chance to read the previous chapter about blame and justification, you probably understand the limitations of living in the past and allowing the past to limit. Whenever we have a bad experience and we use the past to justify it, we keep ourselves stuck.

Read more about how to leave the past behind

Powerful Suggestions

Woman under hypnosisIf you have ever seen a hypnosis show, you already know how this works, but if you have not, this should be very interesting for you. Either way, after watching a hypnosis performance recently, I think there are important lessons we can all learn from it.

On Ronit’s birthday, we went to a local comedy club. There is nothing happier than laughter and good comedy can really brighten up a birthday night, so there we were. The first act was a very good, but normal, stand up routine. We ate, we laughed and we had a good time.

The second act was called a “Comedy Hypnosis Show”. It started during the break with a multimedia presentation showing swinging watches, spinning spirals and other “street” symbols of hypnosis, along with boasting words about the performer himself and his abilities to deal with the subconscious mind.

“This is going to be cheesy”, I thought, “Maybe the hypnosis is just a gimmick”.

But I was partly wrong. It was only cheesy. The hypnosis was real. And impressive. And quite educational, actually.

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The Art of Letting Go: Blame and Excuses

Slogan: you can have results or excusesBlame and excuses are born from a subconscious desire to manage failure and disappointment from ourselves. That is a very natural and, in some way, a very healthy mechanism. When we feel the failure is too big to bear, we try to get the load off our shoulder in order to survive emotionally. The main problem with passing blame and justifying is that they block our way forward.

Since life is a journey of personal growth and development, whenever we blame or justify, we keep ourselves standing in one place (to rest and to take the load off). This is not always bad, because sometimes, our journey is hard and things get heavy, so we do need to stop and rest, rethink until we can start moving forward again. But when we do it a lot, we are in constant “loading off” mode and we are constantly stuck.

Think of our mind as a ship sailing in the sea of life. Our captain is the conscious mind and the crew is the subconscious mind. Whenever we blame or justify, our subconscious drops an anchor and stops to check the map again and to set a new course for travel (too heavy, maybe the destination is not good enough). So you are not moving anywhere. The captain, the conscious mind, is screaming like a headless chicken, shouting to move on, “We are stuck because of you, helpless crew!” But the more he (or she) shouts the more worried the crew is about moving forward. The first thing they say to themselves is, “This captain is not very responsible. We can’t allow him to take us to dangerous places, so we’re not moving anywhere… Just to be sure, we’ll drop another anchor”.

Read more about how to be happy in life

How to Raise Gifted Children: Switch-Finding Rules

Wall power switchTo help your children find their gifts and talents, it is good to find yours first. Children learn best by example and this will make you a role model for being gifted. Here are my simple rules for finding your switch.

Some people think that if they only push a bit harder, what they want will happen. So they punish themselves for not achieving or not doing something they set themselves to do. But it only makes them feel bad about themselves.

Some think that if they have no way back, this will force them to move forward. So they pay the gym in advance to force themselves to go or they ask me to pay for all of their coaching in advance (which I do not accept). But this just puts extra pressure on them to perform.

If you want to help children, never, never, never punish them for not being able to shine. Never push them to the limit in order to force them to do things. Criticism is a bad force that triggers guilt and shame. Every time you criticize, you are taking your kids away from the light. Force and light do not go together.

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The Art of Letting Go: Living up to Others’ Expectations

Man with tiny man whispering in his earOur life works so that we are born into living up to others’ expectations. It starts with fitting into our parents’ expectations and then goes through 12-15 years of living up to our teachers’ expectations and nothing at all focuses on living up to our own expectations. In fact, as I recall from my early years, adults said to me over and over again that life was not about what I expected while they did everything in their power to make me fit their expectations.

There are several problems with living life that way and the common thing between them is that they are motivated by the fear of not matching others’ expectations.

This life is yours and yours only and no one should take charge of it. You are the only one who can control your own subconscious mind and the only person that can take care of your own best interest.

Let go of living up to others’ expectations by speaking your mind, by listening to your gut feelings and by aligning your beliefs, values and rules to match them. Use your feelings as a guide. I am not suggesting that you live in the world on your own to minimize external influences, but whatever comes from the outside, ask yourself, “Does this match my feelings? Does this match what I believe? Does it feel right to me?”

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Talking Down at Your Kids

Two funny boysI often observe parents as they interact with their children and listen to how they use language and tone of voice. All too often, they “talk down” at their kids, rather than having a conversation with them, and that saddens me.

Think back to a time when somebody talked down at you. Maybe it was your boss, maybe it was your own parents and maybe it was your partner. Not a good feeling, right?

Did you feel any respect? How did you think the other person was perceiving you? Did they treat you as an independent, capable human being or see you only from their own perspective? Were they driven by love or perhaps by fear?

Let’s start with the language.

Many parents ask their kids closed or single-choice questions, like “Did you have a good day today?” “Do you have any homework?” “That was great fun, wasn’t it, honey?” “How about we go shopping first and then you can play?” or “Do you want to use the blue crayon for the sky?”

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