Change happens. Sometimes we change because we want to; sometimes we change because we have to. When dealing with a change that is out of our control, one of the best approaches is to Sherlock it.
“My name is Sherlock Holmes.
It is my business to know what other people don’t know.”
Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
You know Sherlock. He’s the odd, people-challenged character who sure knew how to solve mysteries. Don’t some changes feel like mysteries to you?
Recently, my favorite yogurt brand changed the consistency, flavor and protein content of their product, and I wasn’t happy! I will use this silly example to walk you through the process of moving through a change that is out of your control so you can get a feel for the process. If it can work with yogurt, maybe it will transfer to any bigger change you may be dealing with!
“…[W]hen a fact appears to be opposed to a long train of deductions it invariably proves to be capable of bearing some other interpretation.”
Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet
1. What is the change that is happening around you? Describe the facts. What exactly is different?
This company changed the protein content of my favorite yogurt went from 15 grams of protein down to 12! Plus, the consistency is more watery, and the flavor tastes watered down as well, but it’s cheaper!
2. Now you get to expand a little. How do you feel about this change? Are you angry, afraid, sad, or frustrated? Let it out, and include why you are feeling the way you do about this change.
I feel really disappointed about this. I counted on those 15 grams of protein in the mornings when I didn’t have time for a larger breakfast. I would eat it at work as well, but now it isn’t satisfying as it was before. I don’t understand why they made these changes, and I feel angry. I feel especially frustrated because the only other comparable yogurt is at a grocery store that is inconveniently located!
3. What about this change is in your control? What about it is out of your control? (Keep to the facts here, too!)
I can control whether or not I continue to purchase this brand of yogurt. I don’t have control over how it is made. I can write an email to the company, voicing my dissatisfaction, but I can’t control whether or not they do anything about my dissatisfaction, either.
4. What would be the best way for you to manage this change? What steps are you willing to take to make the necessary adjustments?
I can consider other options, such as trying a different brand of yogurt, or making the trek to the other grocery store. I can also find other sources of quick proteins for my food intake needs, like protein bars.
“Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.”
Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of Four
Now it’s up to you what you decide to do. You can always choose to continue with emotional responses, such as disappointment, anger, frustration, sadness. If that’s the route you take, be sure to also answer this question: “For what good purpose would it serve for me to continue feeling (frustrated, sad, angry, hurt, etc) about this change?” That can be an eye-opener, and can lead to your choosing not to hold on to that reaction any longer than you need to.
“What object is served by this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must tend to some end, or else our universe is ruled by chance, which is unthinkable.”
Sherlock Holmes, The Cardboard Box
When you have completed the process and made your adjustments, kick back like Sherlock (or perhaps in your own, healthier way) and feel good about solving the mystery of change.
“Let me run over the principal steps. We approached the case, you remember, with an absolutely blank mind, which is always an advantage. We had formed no theories. We were simply there to observe and to draw inferences from our observations.”
Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Cardboard Box
Each new year brings new energy and desire for change! Often when we have something we want to change in ourselves, the first response we have is anger, frustration, rejection. We then try to go about our desired change with a hammer over our heads!
How many of us do well while getting bossed around, criticized and rejected? It might work for a little while—or a long while, if we are super-tolerant—but after a time, we stop trying so hard, or try to get away from the hammer, thus avoiding the task at hand.
We do better at change when we have encouragement, acceptance and a caring eye guiding us in the new behavior.
Who is the best person to do that for you? Maybe you have a supportive friend, or an encouraging therapist. But you are with you all the time! You are the one who will walk with you through all of the ups and downs of life!
Here are a few ways to encourage yourself through any change you want to make:
A little love goes a long way to melt raw materials and create a masterpiece. Take a best friend with you into 2014…YOU! Happy New Year, and happy new YOU!
Two years ago, I had the privilege of participating in a three part web radio series on Jane Elizabeth Hart's powerful processing tool, Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions, with Jane Elizabeth and my awesome husband, Gregory Barrette.
Since it is a time of transitioning from one year into the next, I wanted to re-post these audios on the Seven Steps. Releasing the old year is an essential part of making room for a new year of experiences and spiritual growth!
The first interview in the series, called "How to Move into the New Year Empowered", was with author and spiritual teacher Jane Elizabeth. Click here to listen. For more information on her formula for moving through changes, Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions, and empowering yourself for the new year, click here. While you are there, check out the free spiritual resources available at Center For Enlightenment.
"Every problem in life is here to support your soul's evolution. Unless you have a challenge, you will never know your capabilities. Your problems are not awful. They are the most wonderful tools designed to push you forward!"
My interview was next: "The Gift of the Seven Steps." Listen to the recorded show here: Mentors of New Thought Radio. Below is the description of the program:
"My work with clients is to help pull out the patterns and help make the unconscious conscious," says therapist and spiritual counselor Lynn Barrette, LCSW. "Or, as leading psychiatrist Dr. Dan Siegel says in his book, Mindsight, “In order for us to become aware of the feelings inside us—to consciously attend to and understand them—we need to link these subcortically created emotional states to our [higher thinking] cortex.” Or, in spiritual terms, making the unconscious conscious! In order for us to heal the buried emotions and the beliefs that are sustaining them, we need to become aware of our hidden patterns that keep us stuck.
"Jane Elizabeth's Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions is the greatest, most thorough processing tool I have found to uncover and heal unconscious patterns, for myself as well as my clients."
The final show in the series was with Gregory Barrette. Greg spoke about leaving the old year behind and "Making a New Start" in the new year. Here's what he says about this powerful tool: "The Seven Steps method is the single most effective way I know to forgive and release old, past issues and experiences... to fully let go of all that has happened in the past year and open up to a new experience in 201." Listen to to Greg's interview here.
However you use the Seven Steps process, it will help catapult you into new spiritual understanding in many different situations in life. Try it out, and let me know how it works for you!
The power to imagine will ease you into something greater than where you are right now. Let your imagination awaken you to new possibilities!
There is always a solution.
One of my primary jobs as a therapist and spiritual counselor is to be that objective person who can see what I call the “third option”.
What is the third option?
The third option is that other possibility for moving through a tough situation. Perhaps there are several “third options”, but when we are feeling stuck, we tend to see our situation in rigid, black or white terms. For example, someone who feels stuck in his or her career may only be able to see two limiting options: “Stay here and suffer, but at least I’m getting paid,” or, “Quit my job and be unemployed because the economy is so bad.” This is a good time to look for those third options!
Why is the third option so hard to see?
In the above example, you may be able to quickly see that there are certainly other possibilities than those mentioned. But, when we are in the middle of our own stuck place, it can be hard to see third options! Our own circumstances trigger our emotions, which keep us from being able to see other possibilities. Can you guess which emotion is most prominent in our example above? You are correct if you guessed fear. Fear is one of the biggest blind spots we have as human beings. It keeps us from seeing beyond the two walls that feel like they are caving in on us! Fortunately, our fears are seldom accurate; so having an objective viewpoint can help us see other choices that are there, closer than we may perceive.
A close second to fear in why we’re sometimes not able to see the third option is that often they are wrapped up in things we may not want to do—and those might just be the action steps that would support us the most! Let’s face it: Our problems are here to stretch us, and stretching pulls us beyond our current state of flexibility…and comfort. That means that 99.9% of the time, we will have to do something we’d rather not. The plus side is that it often feels great to do just that!
How can we learn to open ourselves to the third option?
When we find ourselves feeling stuck, the first thing we must do is to recognize the potential (and need!) for growth. This will help relieve the worry and fear, and allow us to take a step back from the situation and see the bigger picture.
Next, brainstorm possible solutions. Remember how we learned to brainstorm in elementary school? Everything goes! Write down all those potential solutions, even and especially the silly ones! Have fun trying to think of ways to resolve the situation. Make sure that list includes those options that you think you would never do. You might just come up with something you would do after all!
Try asking yourself these questions:
There is always a solution, and we can find it when we step back and look at the bigger picture!
No, I’m not talking about soccer. Or rugby. Or quidditch.
I’m talking about those goals you made last month for the new year. How are they going for you?
Committing to a goal is exciting. It brings with it new energy, new hope for happiness, and…change. Uh-oh. There it is. Change. Our commitments require us to change. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t need to commit to something in the first place, would we? We often secretly expect new year magic to come in and make us different so we can have the outcomes of our new year’s goals…which come from the awareness that we need to change. See? Tricky!
Let’s look more closely at what our resolutions really require us to do. Run one of your goals through the following questions to see what you are really committing to:
1. What is my goal? (Keep it simple, realistic and attainable.)
2. What would keep me from achieving this goal?
3. What do I have to give up in order to make this goal happen?
4. What do I have to begin doing in order to make this goal happen?
5. What would support me in achieving this goal?
6. How can I break this goal down into manageable steps?
7. What is a good first step toward this goal?
Knowing what we are in for when committing to anything helps us know how to be prepared and advocate for our success. You are an evolving soul that embraces change. Cooperate with that metamorphosis!
REVAMPED RULES FOR RESOLUTIONS
So we made it to 2013 after all! Maybe you put off your New Year’s resolutions until now so let’s take this time to look at a few rules for your New Year resolutions.
First take out any resolution that begins with "I want a better …" We all want to enjoy where we are no matter what, and if we don't like something, we think we have to jump to something else. So many desires building on each other keep us from listening within to what our soul is trying to tell us. Perhaps we are supposed to stay and learn something from our current job, relationship, house, car, and so forth. How will we know what we are truly supposed to do when we are somewhere already making our exit plan?
Try the good ole standby Serenity Prayer instead: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
Now that is a beautiful resolution for 2013!
Next, add meditation to your daily self-care routine. Are you tired of hearing about the importance of meditation? Increasingly, meditation is shown to reduce stress, physical and mental illnesses, and
even increase successful decision-making in daily life. Commit to making the centeredness of your soul as important as the care of your physical body! Ten minutes a day will change you at depth.
Now commit to learning to observe yourself. Hold one part of yourself in a listening and watching position within you, while the other part of you is in "doing" mode. You will be amazed at what you
learn about yourself and how much easier it is to make changes when you discover something you don’t like so well about your own motives. This helps us to be more in tune with our intuition as well,
and who doesn’t want that for their new year?
Finally, resolve to forgive – any time, anywhere, for any reason. Do it just once, and you will discover how much lighter you feel, how much happier you can be! It’s worth the regular maintenance, but
even if you forgive two out of three times, you’ll be lighter when the time comes to release this year and prepare for 2014.
Service to others adds a nice extra credit touch to your list of resolutions. It allows you to share all the good vibes that lift you when you do all of the above actions. There is nothing more fulfilling than
supporting our own soul. Then we have much, much more to give to others.
For 2013, resolve to evolve!
If you’re anything like me, when I set a goal, I mean business—I want the results TODAY!
While some goals can manifest quickly, others take the long road, like an investment. When I put money in stocks, I can’t expect my money to double by the end of the day! I have to have patience, detachment, persistence.
What is a goal you are working toward right now? Losing weight? Saving money for a new car? Forgiving someone in your life? Embracing more positive thoughts throughout your day? Or some other goal that will take more than a few hours, days or even weeks to accomplish?
These long term goals require us to have a long view of our achievement process. We are changing patterns, some of which have been with us for some time, and our progress will naturally look more like a Dow Jones Industrial Average chart, with the characteristic ups and downs. Our objective isn’t to climb with daily perfection, but to trend toward our goal.
We have our great days, when our new outlook seems easy and attainable. We take great strides some days! Other days can leave us feeling like we have taken one step forward and two steps backward. These are the days when we have the opportunity to have compassion on ourselves, strengthen the areas that need more work, and keep our eyes on the bigger goal down the road.
We are always moving forward in consciousness; whether we feel the truth of that or not can vary day to day. Our job is to remember that we are slowly but surely trending toward our good, and that goal will give way to a new good to achieve.
Lynn Barrette, LCSW Blending psychology with spirituality, I offer tools for forgiveness, acceptance, meditation and relaxation, and positive parenting solutions.