Thursday, April 19, 2007

Safety and Change

I talk a lot about how change is good. It occurred to me that I should talk about HOW change happens.

I believe that change is most likely to happen when we 1) feel safe or 2) change is safer than staying as we are or 3) we have no choice. When state 2 or 3 occurs we are often reacting and the changes we make might not be optimal!

The ideal is to be in state 1 where we feel safe and feel ready to consciously choose to make changes in our lives. Choice is good. So is feeling safe as we move out of our comfort zones and into the new and take steps that feel scary to us.

So HOW do we feel safe? Waiting for it to happen isn’t, in my experience, too great a strategy. There’s always something to come along that could scare us if we let it. Much better to create a sense of safety in our lives, a core of something no one can take away from us, a sense of safety that we can call on NO MATTER WHAT.

How do we do that? In my experience there are several things that can help:

1) Create an image of a safe place in our minds—a place that feels happy and safe and truly ours. We don’t need to share it with anyone so no one can harm us there.

2) Keep a list (in our heads if it doesn’t feel safe to write it down so someone else could find and use it against us) of all our strengths and all our past successes. This is evidence, proof that we CAN succeed, we CAN make changes.

3) Create a habit that whenever we do something that is good for us and helps us move forward, even if—ESPECIALLY IF—it scares us, immediately afterwards we do something that makes us smile. This rewards doing things that move us forward and is a reminder that no matter what we can create moments in our lives when we can smile and feel happy—even if it’s only for a moment or two.

4) In that safe place in our mind we can rehearse or practice things we are going to do. We can figure out solutions to the things that scare us most, figure out things we might say and rehearse how to handle possible setbacks. Never mind that it might play out totally different in real life! The key is to help us feel more comfortable and safer taking these steps forward.

5) Create a habit of noticing, every day, what is good in our lives and what we are grateful for. This helps to remind us that we can have good in our lives.

6) Create a habit of seeing the best in others. This does NOT mean tolerating abuse and telling ourselves the person didn’t really mean it! It means seeing clearly all of what is there. In other words, if someone is abusive, it means recognizing this AND recognizing that the abuse comes out of the person’s own fears and hurt. It means removing ourselves from the situation so that we are no longer abused AND doing so without anger or hate. Why? If we cannot believe anyone can be good or trustworthy we will feel like what’s the point of leaving someone who mistreats us because won’t everyone? It is much easier to make changes if we can trust that it might be worthwhile and that we may discover wonderful new people to bring into our lives.

7) Fid a way to bring FUN into the process. Find a way to laugh at ourselves and our fears and focus on what GOOD will come out of the changes we are making.

The more we focus on what is right about ourselves and our strengths, the easier it becomes to believe in ourselves and find strength and courage to move forward. The more we face our fears and do things anyway, the easier it becomes to make even more changes and face down even more fears.

I also believe with all my heart that change comes far more easily when we are focusing not on how flawed we are but rather when we focus on how our lives will be better if we make these changes, on how we will be happier, on how we can have fun in the process of making these changes.

Anyway, that’s my take on change. May each of you discover what lets you feel safe and ways to create that feeling for yourself as you go through life. May each of you discover what can make you smile as you find your courage to move forward creating the lives you want to have. Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),



jumpinginpuddles said...

lol we have created such a safe place in mind to house the multitude, :P:P:P but our safe place is the holiday (the parents in law are now selling)but we are trying to find alternatives to safe inside outside places

April_optimist said...

External safety begins with internal safety. When we trust ourselves we can then trust others. When we know how to love and nurture and protect ourselves then everywhere feels safe.