“You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.”
– Marianne Williamson
The inspiration for today’s insight comes from this quote from American author Marianne Williamson on the necessity to change our thinking before we can change our “being”.
Have you ever tried to reinvent yourself? Perhaps you wanted to stop trying to control so many things, or to be kinder, or more grateful, or to live with less guilt! Or you might have wanted to set more boundaries or say “no” to people who waste your time or take advantage of your generous spirit. Maybe you wanted to be stricter with your difficult clients or better at managing your time.
Recently, after re-reading an inspiring book, I decided I would become a person who writes thank you notes every day. I’ve wanted to do this since the first time I read the book but had never made it happen. This time I was serious though – I even procured a special writing desk to go next to my bed and bought a bunch of thank you cards in preparation. I was all set.
Guess how many thank yous I’ve written at my new desk?
If you guessed zero, you’d be on the right track!
There isn’t even a chair at the desk to sit on..
Now, I’ve still sent some thank yous in that time but as of the time of writing I’ve definitely failed at becoming someone who does it as a matter of habit – as a way of keeping me mindful of all of my many blessings.
How did your reinvention go? If you’re like me, your effort probably lasted for a few days, or maybe even longer, but after a while you likely slipped right back to who you were before. Because you were trying to change your being, or action, without first changing the stuff in the background that lead you to that behaviour in the first place – your thoughts. So you might have told yourself to “stop being so controlling” or “be nice” or “be more grateful, look at all you have!” but those instructional thoughts weren’t really sustainable.
In reality many other thoughts need to be involved before our instructions will stick. Firstly, most of us need to think through a bunch of things like “what will this new behaviour look like?”, “what will I say/do if x happens?”, “how will I find the time for this?”, “who can support me or hold me accountable with these new behaviours?”, “what preparation do I need to make this happen?”, “where can I get a chair?”, and so on. But beyond that, we have to begin to adopt the mindset of a person who does the things we want to do. How do they think, behave, prioritise, communicate etc? What else do they do that facilitates this particular behaviour or habit? How does that look different to how I currently approach things?
True change – a change in thinking – takes time. Our brains are conditioned as we grow up to think in a certain way, and our neural pathways become stronger the longer we continue thinking that way. This is why children learn and change so quickly, their neurons haven’t been firing the same way for as long as an adult. Fortunately in the last few decades scientists have discovered that neuroplasticity is real and it’s definitely possible to teach an old dog new tricks!
Author Dr Joe Dispenza has written some great books on changing your brain and, as always, the first step is becoming aware of the thoughts behind the behaviours that aren’t working for you. The next step is creating an alternative, which means you need to be able to think bigger than your current feelings. Feelings are pretty powerful so this part can be hard. In essence, you have to create the new you first in your mind, and then set about educating yourself on how to become that person.
Of course it’s not so simple that it can be summed up in a snappy paragraph, so if you want to read more I highly recommend Joe’s books Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself and Evolve Your Brain.
A big component, as I mentioned earlier is time. It takes time to change the brain, so be patient. In my personal experience trying to become someone more mindful and appreciative of their good fortune I am definitely now seeing the results of years of work toward this goal. All of the research, reading, experiences, practice and failed plans along the way have contributed to me now taking fewer things for granted and feeling a deeper appreciation for my life and the many beautiful people and things in it.
It’s easy to overlook this progress and focus on the lack of thank you notes written at my special desk, but I prefer to notice and acknowledge the growth that I’ve gone through to get here. The next level, in my case, is to improve on how I communicate my gratitude to the people I am grateful for. It’s a slow process because I’m a busy human but it’s certainly something in line with my values and that makes me want to keep progressing, however long it takes.
The desire to reinvent ourselves, or to behave in a new way in pursuit of a new result, is our drive to meet the next level that awaits us. We are all here to grow but growth is usually uncomfortable and often messy, which is why it’s so easy to slip back to our old ways even when we know the outcome isn’t what we want. It’s like wanting to stay in that pair of perfectly worn PJs (that are so soft they’re on the verge of being threadbare) on a Saturday morning but also wanting to go to bootcamp and get fit. Eventually you have to ditch the old to get on with the new, and, just as with working out, over time it won’t be so painful!
Whatever it looks like for you, you can embrace your next level by dedicating time and attention to your thinking and mindset. Running a small business provides endless opportunities to step up and make changes that grow you – as a business owner, but even more importantly, as a person.
What thoughts can you identify that are holding you back from becoming the next level you? Start noticing and even recording them. As always, you are welcome to book a no obligation Intro Call if you want to learn more about mastering your thinking as well as scaling your business!
Until next time,
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