Think and Do Differently
We’ve all heard the overused yet accurate meme of Insanity – doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. I believe the only way to make lasting change is to think and do differently. What that means is to pay closer attention to what our thoughts are and what we are experiencing in the moment; then choose to think and do something other than that.
It can be small changes – taking another route to work; eating something new for lunch; or taking a walk after dinner. Those little changes provide a new experience which provides a different perspective. With that new perspective, we can tackle larger areas in our life – possibly long practiced behaviors like being late for appointments, procrastination, overeating, or indecisiveness. Making changes in those areas of our lives will have a profound effect on all we do.
Being aware of what you’re thinking or doing is the first step. Sometimes it’s so habitual we don’t even realize it. Slowing down and being present to a thought, a person, or a situation requires greater concentration and focus. It takes effort and it takes a lot of practice. It’s so easy to get stuck in our head – thinking about the past or future, or using our imagination to create a story about something instead of seeing what’s right in front of us.
The next step is to realize we could have a different experience. We might be able to change the experience itself. We could definitely change our attitude about it. Once we begin to see things differently, it’s fascinating to sit back and watch people and things “change” around us.
For lasting change, we must examine why we do certain things – what do we get out of the situation? It’s possible we haven’t figured out what we want (or we don’t believe we can really have what we want!). We need to get honest with ourselves and set some clear goals. If we have low self-esteem, we can begin to recognize our value by developing greater self-respect and trust in ourselves.
Stream of consciousness writing, drawing, or mind mapping can bring out our thoughts and uncover deep seated patterns and conditioning. Talking with someone can help us see things differently – hearing our own words can provide keen insight into what we are thinking and identify beliefs that may be outdated. We might discover those thoughts and beliefs aren’t even our own; we may have picked them up along the way from our parents, teachers, preachers and others around us. Uncovering the root of the behavior will help us determine the next steps to take. Transformation occurs with consistent attention and repeated action.
I believe everything in life is about the learning. When we can look at a situation objectively instead of getting caught up in guilt or judgment, we are able to grow and evolve. We can get out of the loop of self-condemnation and regret that keeps us stuck. When we’re stuck, we can’t see the possibilities and we don’t take advantage of the opportunities around us. We certainly can’t consider other perspectives to stretch ourselves.
“I am thinking and doing differently” is an affirmation I’ve often repeated and it has served me well. Another powerful affirmation I’ve used is “I am comfortable in the uncomfortable”. It’s uncomfortable to think differently – to look at something with fresh eyes; it’s easier to keep doing things the way we’ve always done them (and expect different results?!). Instead, we can learn to appreciate those moments when we feel a little uneasy. If we just take some deep breaths and stay present where it’s uncomfortable instead of reverting back to our old thoughts and behavior, we’ll eventually become okay in new surroundings or with new thoughts.
Over time, we’ll realize we are more than okay – we are different! We’ll realize we don’t think the same way we used to about things and we may even physically feel differently. It’s a wonderful, liberating feeling when that happens. Then we can step back and realize we created that experience, we caused that change. And, if we did that, we can do anything!!!!