Happy New Year! This week systemic coach Zita Tulyahikayo and barrister James Pereira QC illuminate the path to meaningful change and why it eludes so many people at the start of each year.
January has become a significant month in our calendar, the antidote to Christmas indulgence, a time to mark change and break from the past. Whether it is dry January, a foray into clean eating, a new gym membership or a standard new year’s resolution, January is considered to be the time to start over.
The reality is that before we even reach January 15th, most of these good intentions will have fallen by the wayside as failed attempts or impossible goals to achieve during the dreariest time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.
Such attempts must be acknowledged as noble, and not be ignored or diminished. However, if we believe that making an external change to patterns of behaviour will send messages to our subconscious mind that deep change, like freezing rain, is to be expected, we are likely to be as disappointed with the result as we are with the weather. So on we go into another year struggling with the same disruptive thoughts, feelings and emotions circling the drain.
Resistance: the barrier to change
What many people overlook is that on the road to meaningful change stands resistance.
With an action plan in mind, we enthusiastically set off with good intentions to effect fundamental change, unaware of this lacuna which rests in our blind spot. Our subconscious mind has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Given that our subconscious governs the functioning of our body and keeps us alive, it naturally perceives change as a potential threat, irrespective of the possibility that the change might prove to be highly beneficial.
This is why so many find it easier to continue living with a problem than to solve it. And so it goes that at the first hurdle we are quite understandably disarmed by is our own resistance. As any good auto body repair shop will tell you, it is far easier to dent a car than it is to repair the dent.
The importance of self-inquiry
If we truly want to improve the overall quality of life not just for ourselves, but for all those we come into contact with, we must achieve meaningful change that will be lasting. The impetus for change or improvement in form is created by an awareness that the current state of affairs is not giving us the support we need to be our best selves. This awareness establishes a space for self-inquiry, a desirable environment for implementing change.
We cannot control the circumstances of life, but we can change how we choose to see them. Meaningful change occurs when self-inquiry enables us to shift our perspective entirely, with an intention to turn the coin over and make a deeper commitment to see things differently. And thus we bring our blind spot into view. By contrast, the very definition of insanity is to keep thinking the same way and expect to arrive at a different result.
The ability to willingly change one’s perspective is perhaps the single most important factor in the art of successful living. Successful living is when all parts of our personal and professional lives function well. If you are of the mind that life is supposed to be wonderful, if you are of the mind that your clients deserve the very best of you, if quality is something that you value – then successful living is worth seeking.
If such things are not important to you, then it is perfectly acceptable to say, why bother?
If we start from the premise that it is just as easy to be rich as it is to be poor, so you might as well be rich, then you can see why it is worth the bother to be rich in life experience. If you have the courage and the willingness to make meaningful change, then something different starts to happen to you consciously, and at the level of the subconscious.
First, you are instantly absolved of the insecure need and desire to cling so tightly to what has happened in the past. Clinging to the stories of the past is a fail-safe way of resisting change.
Secondly, you gain the confidence to seek new ways to achieve better outcomes. These possibilities are opened up by shifting your perspective, accepting what was and releasing yourself from any attachments to the past.
Thirdly, and most significantly, you give yourself permission to enter new territories, which makes the ordinary experience of life become extraordinary. Once you have faith that you are already brilliant, then unbidden by you, your brilliance can take flight and your true potential can be revealed. You will literally liberate your mind to do what it does best and find unique ways to think, be and do. You will grow exponentially and beyond your expectations. There is wisdom in the expression, “it turned out far better than I could have imagined.”
Keep turning the coin
It is not luck that makes some people have more dazzling lives and careers than others. It is a willingness to keep turning the coin over, to see things differently. Exponential growth and change – the ability to adapt – ensure that we survive and flourish in our personal and professional lives. Creating a healthy, wealthy, happy and successful life is a legacy worth reaching for.
The authors welcome feedback from anyone concerned with the issues raised in their writing, and are also interested in hearing from anyone with suggestions for future articles. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @LifeTherapyZita and at james.pereiraQC@ftbchambers.co.uk and on Twitter @JamesPereiraQC.
The full Loving Legal Life series can be found here.