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.

Read more about how to stop resisting change

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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

Moving Forward

Man humping over an obstacleAs you probably know by now, life does not always work the way you expect it to. As a parent, you also know that your kids do not always do what you expect them to. Sure, it is tough sometimes, but it is the same for everybody. No matter how hard we try, we sometimes face situations we do not like.

The main difference between people who succeed in life and those who do not is what they do next. This is also the difference between parents who raise happy and successful kids and those who do not.

While I was thinking about this topic, I remembered a quote by an American president about taking action. When I looked it up, it turned out to be by Theodore Roosevelt, who is also quoted as saying many other highly appropriate things. I will include these within this post for your enjoyment and your (kids’) benefit.

Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering
– Theodore Roosevelt

Stopping progress

The best way to keep yourself right where you are and place yourself at the mercy of your circumstances, or your kids’ behavior, is to keep finding reasons for not making any progress.

No matter what anyone says to you, what are the chances it will be perfect? None. So you can always respond with, “Oh, no, this doesn’t cover everything”, or words to that effect.

Read more about how to be a happy parent

Parenting for Happiness

Happy mother and babyThe essence of parenting is preparing children for adulthood. Parents must therefore protect their kids, feed them, keep them healthy and teach them the skills they will need during their independent adult life. But which skills are those? What do we want our kids to achieve with the skills we teach them anyway?

Most parents, given enough time to ponder this question, agree that the answer is “Happiness”. When offered the choice from success, money, love, fame and other things people desire, parents overwhelmingly choose happiness.

The problem is that most of our daily parenting ends up being about other things, like academic success, winning competitions, behaving politely, earning money and so on. Children’s future happiness is only used as an assumption, as in “If you do well at school, you’ll have more options in life and be happier” or “If you learn how to keep a job and save money, you’ll be able to afford the things that will make you happy when you grow up” (excuse me while I catch my breath).

I believe that focusing directly on being happy changes what we choose to do for/to our kids, motivates them more and will ultimately make them (and us) happier. Rather than assuming that happiness will be the indirect result of doing homework every day, why not start with what makes (or will make) our kids happy and then tie that to things we can all do every day to accomplish that happiness?

Read more about how to raise happy kids

Exploring Happiness

Woman looking lost and unhappyHappiness is no doubt an art. If we think of all the happiness artists we know who are able to be happy, they all have something in common. They have some drive that others, who are depressed, do not have.

Our body is a sophisticated machine of chemicals that are working together in a very brilliant way. Even if some parts of the machine are not functioning well, the body can fix itself by sending help. The molecules and the cells function with a drive to go somewhere, to do something. If the parts of the machine stop moving for some reasons, we get sick and eventually die.

Emotionally, people are much the same – they are born with a drive that goes through inhibition. If you do not use some of your emotional functions, you lose them.

Think of babies, fascinated by life. Everything is new to them and they are in the best mindset they will ever be – they are born explorers. What we see on the outside as checking the world around them translates in their brain to many connections and the biggest physical growth of their life. They do it without understanding, without skills and without money – exploring happiness.

Babies find things that make them happy and do them over and over again. They can watch the same movie many times and laugh again and again when Mom makes the same silly sounds.

Read more about how to find happiness

Emotional Summer

Sunflower girlI love summer. I could bathe in the sun the whole day. When it is very hot and people wish for a breeze or seek the comfort of the air conditioner, I still prefer the heat. It makes me happy.

When Gal and I lived in Thailand and the humidity was extremely high, I never complained. I take a shower with such hot water that it is too hot for Gal. I have lived in Texas and loved it. I have lived in California (that was OK), Thailand and Singapore (loved it), and now I live in Brisbane, Australia, doing my best to forget the 3 miserable years in Melbourne, Australia, because I was so cold there.

There is a joke that says Melbourne has 4 seasons in one day, because the temperature changes dramatically every couple of hours. I found that to be true, but the only 4 temperatures I recognized were “cold”, “very cold”, “extremely cold” and “freezing cold”. Maybe I have different temperature receptors. I just love the warmth and the heat, and it boosts my health and wellbeing.

Our emotional state is very much like the weather. Everyone has different receptors and a different optimal temperature. It is important to understand that we have different ways of reaching our optimal temperature.

In the same way we adjust our water temperature and volume in the shower, Gal and I use different ways of coping with situations in our lives. Gal prefers to talk about the situation and analyzing reasons and options, while I prefer doing things that will make me happy and distract me, at least for a while, until I calm down and consider the situation from a distance and come up with solutions. It is very important to note that both of us, although we use different methods, are trying to reach happiness within.

Read more about how to be happy in life

A Little Bit Unhappy

Scales looking like a smileIn the past month, I heard it a lot. I had client after client sitting on my “life coaching deck” and talking about being totally unhappy about some things in their life. They were unhappy about their relationship with their partner, their kids, their health, their job, their money or their social life, and they wanted it to stop.

When this happens, I tell them there is something good about being unhappy. They always look at me surprised, thinking I have fallen on my head, but gradually, they understand that being unhappy and going to see a life coach is a wonderful sign that your body is talking to you and you are listening and actually doing something about it.

Congratulations, you are unhappy!

If you are unhappy with something in your life, congratulations! You are aware of your best navigating compass – your feelings.

Some people think happiness is an airy-fairy thing that cannot be explained and understood, not to mention controlled. Many people say they want to control their feelings in fear that their feelings might take over and control them.

But feelings do not have a mind of their own. They are a compass that lets us know where we should or should not go, we just have to look at it from time to time and see the direction it is pointing to. It is very simple. If it says, “I am not happy”, change directions. If it says, “I am happy”, keep going the same way.

I think this realization has helped me lots in life. When some of my friends, who know I am a happiness coach, ask me, “Well, Ronit, What is your formula for happiness?” I answer, “Tune into your body and let your feelings guide you”.

Read more about how to be happy in life

From the Life Coaching Deck (5): Making Money Addiction

Money stackWhen I was about 15 years old, I learned the hard way that sometimes you want things and only when you get them, you realize they were not what you wanted. Addiction is like this too – you want something and shortly after you get what you want, you realize it was not what you wanted.

As a life coach, I talk a lot about wanting. I believe wanting is essential in life. It is the driving force of our existence. But today, I want to tell you about a session on my life coaching deck that reminded me again why the question “Why?” is as important as the question “What?” Chris, one of my wonderful clients, taught me a wonderful lesson about what happens when you do not know why.

All I knew about Chris was that he was a businessman in his early fifties, married, with no kids and a lack of motivation who was looking for a life coach. Nothing special. We all have those periods in our life when we just find it hard to get up in the morning.

This is what I told myself when I prepared for his session. The first time he came, when I opened the door, I saw from the corner of my eyes a classy Mercedes Benz parked outside. Well, the first thing I could think of was “Oh my god, what a beautiful car”. I have to say it made me more curious about the reason he came. I thought that car was the result of lots of motivation.

“Why are you here, Chris? What do you want?” I asked him.

He looked confused. “I really don’t know. I think something’s wrong with me”.

Read more about addiction to making money

Make a List: My Fears

Scary shadow on the wallSome people say that fear is the opposite of love and others say it is the lack of it. Regardless of the exact relationship between fear and love, they are strongly connected. If we want to have lots of happiness and love in our life, we need to make sure fear is not there to spoil the fun.

Fear is like the Devil that casts a shadow on our life. I know many people who are in constant fear. If you ask them what they are afraid of, they are unable to explain. For some, it is just a pressure they cannot identify. For others, it is more specific, but not enough.

Unfortunately, you cannot fight anything you cannot define. If we want to get rid of our fear, we must know what it is first.

As you know, I like the technique of making a list to recognize and change something we do not like. Making a list of 100 fears can help you identify the blockages in your life. If you are unhappy with your achievements in some area and you dig deeply enough, you will find there is some fear associated with achieving more. If there is a destructive pattern in your behavior and you look at it closely, you will see it is rooted in some fear.

I tell my clients that this list is a big part of our action plan. If we want to achieve something, we must clear the way to it of all the things that are blocking us from making progress and fear is always at the source of those blockages.

As you may know from making other lists, writing down is a way for you to recognize what happens in your mind instead of letting it consume you. This is a private list, just for you, so be honest and do not be afraid to face your thoughts and feelings. That is the idea of this list, after all.

Read more about how to conquer your fears