Personal Growth

Followable ways to lead you through the process of making a change.

Is it easy for you to make a change? If so, how do you feel when the bell of New Year chimes? Do you feel content that you take good care of yourself from bad habits or suffer distress at the lists of things you have not done?

You have heard a bunch of reasons telling you why it is hard to make a change. However, it is more critical to guide you on how to do it than why bad habits stick, right? Sometimes, our resistance to changes is not because we don’t know the ropes but because we don’t know ourselves. We have developed a concrete system to cope with things; however, changes require us to overhaul, even replace conventional approaches. Then long-serving practice is likely to prevail in the fight with newcomers unless we put in efforts to probe the profound motives behind our actions, which is what we love and what makes us frightened to greet significant changes.

Hopefully, Robert Kegan invented a tool to assist us in scanning our minds to nose about hidden motivation. He thinks there is an immune system in our psyche, which, like what the immune system in our body does, help us crack down on something unfamiliar. The psycho-immune system is essentially an anxiety control system. The anxiety we fall into is preceded by changes in our conduct, after which we dust off customary manners to balance our minds. That is the reason why we are apt to be confined to a comfort zone.

How to take action?

First, write down the actions you want to take. For example, express your own opinion in public.

Second, find out what contradicting things you have done. For instance, you tend to keep silent while disagreeing with others or echo others’ thinking instead of putting forward your own after mulling over it.

Third, discover hidden benefits behind the conduct incoherent with your goal. In the above example, not presenting your thoughts keeps you from making mistakes, labels around stupidity others may stick on you.

Last but not least, revisit the fundamental assumptions lurking in your behaviors. In the instance, you fear that giving viewpoints with flaws may incur ridicule. However, that assumption is questionable and deserves reviews.

With this toolkit, you can find the decisive straw that breaks your elephant’s back and become a shrewd rider to navigate your future.

Personal Growth

What is comfort zone? Is it really comfortable? Does it make us refuse changes?

You may hear people from time to time telling you to get out of your comfort zone, but what is a comfort zone? It is intuitive to think of it as a place where we feel secure and comfortable. For example, after getting a job that can barely secure you from starving, you stick to it and lose your passion to climb up the career ladder, albeit it doesn’t give you any sense of achievement. However, things are far from that simple considering the situation of Brooks Hatlen.

In The Shawshank Redemption, he has been put behind the bar for around 50 years. When learning the news that he is going to be released, all he feels is anything but exhilarating. He then finds a way to stay in prison — killing someone; after the clock ticks to the time he can be discharged from jail, he commits suicide to duck out of fear of leaving the cage.
What he says in the movie is, “These walls are funny. First, you hate ’em; then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, you get, so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized.”

You may wonder lock-ups are places where prisoners serve a sentence, and they are seldom related to something comfortable. Why does he consider them “funny”?

In effect, a comfort zone does not necessarily mean a place where you may feel comfortable but an interaction with the environment to which you are no stranger.

A Comfort zone makes us feel secure and relaxed and gives us the feeling that everything is in control. It is, in essence, a solution to our panic in anything we are unacquainted with. The more severe we sense the threats, the more tendency we have to grip the existing approaches. What’s more, it is also a blockage in our minds to make a change in our lives.

It is the evasion of anxiety and the need to control that drive ourselves back to familiar places and resist any changes. Only by dropping the habitual keys can we find a more promising door leading to a change.

Personal Growth

How to make changes more relaxed than you expected? These few steps to help you run into a virtuous cycle to make a positive change.

When it comes to change, if you are the kind of person, who thinks just do it, then do you still remember how many times have you made up your mind to lose weight? How many new year resolutions you’ve made are in effect accomplished?

Don’t be guilty. You are not the only one.

To know why it is so hard to make changes and how to overcome obstacles, we have to learn more about our brain. Our brain is made up of two sides, the emotional one and the rational one, and they interact with each other to influence how we respond to changes. To better explain the mixed relationship, a psychologist calls the emotional one elephant, the rational one rider.

It might look like the elephant’s rider is in charge of the elephant, so the rider can do whatever he wants; however, when their opinions differ, the elephant usually wins. A rein the rider hold could seemingly choose the direction the elephant should go; it is, in effect, a drop in the ocean.

For instance, when the rider makes you determine that you get up early to work out, the elephant tends to remind you of the duvet to extinguish your willingness. Then after you calm the alarming clock, you go straight back to the cozy home.

Don’t be pessimistic. Coins always have two sides. The elephant could ruin your plan as well as facilitate it, depending on how it is guided. As for changes, the elephant can offer the impetus while the rider gives the direction.

To make changes indeed happen, it requires two things to work together, making good use of the elephant as a stitch in time saves nine.

The three main characteristics of the elephant for us to tame it:

  1. Great Strength: Once the power of the elephant is triggered, it becomes wild and uncontrollable.
  2. Emotional: It can be driven by anxiety, fear, and some negative emotions, along with love, pity, empathy, and other positive ones.
  3. Good Memory: Experience will determine how it responds to the future one. It knows what it experienced rather than what it will get.

The first two are quite straightforward, and you might wonder how to generate new positive experience to let the elephant remember. The answer is to get a small one and then cement it, which will eventually become a virtuous cycle. The Pavlov dog experiment can tell the story. Pavlov is ringing the bell while the dog is eating, which establishes a connection between the sound and the food. After a few times, the dog will water every time the bell rings even though there is no food served to it.

An example illustrates the technique. You want to go jogging in the morning to have a good shape. You don’t have to draw a big picture but do nothing at all. All you have to do is get up 30 mins earlier to go walking a few yards. In the wake of the accumulating accomplishments, the elephant will change from resistance to embracing it. With gradual improvement, get up much earlier to run more than a few miles will be a dream come true. What’s more, this successful experience of change will convince the elephant that it is not horrifying to make a change, which in that event makes the process of changing easier.

Always remember you can build a better self if you learn the ropes. Next time, when stuck in a bad habit, don’t worry and stay calm to find the right leverage so as to lift the bulky elephant.