Have you ever wondered why despite the best of intentions, you just can't seem to take action and make the change that you are really hoping for in your life?
Are you guilty of talking to your friends and family about doing something different, making some sort of change, but yet weeks and months later, nothing has changed?
Do you ever beat yourself up because you don’t seem able to take the action that you continue to talk about? Are you sick and tired of talking but not seeing any real results?
So often in my work, I meet people who are extremely frustrated with themselves because they have not been able to make the sort of change and take the sort of action that they've been speaking about (sometimes for years and years on end!)
The reason is this:
Change is difficult.
Change is hard.
But the good news is that change is possible.
You just need to know how.
When you understand the science behind change and learn a few neuroscience-based tools and tips, it can help you make the sort of change you have been talking about.
I have shared before in some of my blogs and videos how I have had my own challenges with my mental and physical health over the years. Some of my struggles, including anxiety started from a young age.
I was a type-A personality from the get-go. The eldest child of a medical doctor father and a highly educated mother with three degrees. It was no surprise that there was a lot of academic pressure on me growing up. Now, this is no criticism of my parents, but I was one of those children who was quite anxious and nervous but did not show it outwardly. This continued through into my adult life.
Towards the end of my corporate life, I was having some challenges in my marriage and personal life, and my mental health struggles really came to the fore. These mental health struggles significantly impacted my physical health, and I ended up in quite poor health. Unfortunately, my marriage did end, and I returned to South Africa to be closer to my family. After 15 years in London, I had to face the fact that I needed to make some real change in my life.
I was fortunate enough to be receiving support and guidance from healthcare professionals, and at the time I was told,
‘Look, Alice, your brain is fixed. You have been thinking, feeling, and acting the same way for very many years. It is unlikely that you'll be able to make serious change.’
When I was at medical school, we were taught that from the age of around 25, it was difficult to form new neural pathways. So, when I was told that my brain was fixed, at first, I believed it. At the time, I found this very disheartening. But after a while, a feeling built up inside of me and I did not want to accept that my life was not going to get much better.
So, I turned to the science and this is when my love of neuroscience developed. I learned that change is hard, but that change is possible. I learned that even though change is extremely difficult, if you understand the brain, if you understand how change works, then great things are possible.
The 6 reasons people struggle to make impactful change: REWIRE
REWIRE is the framework I use to describe the 6 key mistakes I see people, including high achievers, make over and over again.
R is for ‘rigid’:
This is when you have a rigid view of yourself and how you show up in the world. You believe that this is who you are and that you cannot change. That your personality is fixed and there is nothing you can do about it.
This of course is a myth. You can change. You just need to know how.
E is for ‘education’ (or lack thereof):
I see many people battling themselves trying to make the sort of change they would like, but because they don’t have the tools or understanding of how the brain and nervous system works, they don’t know how to tap into their physiology and minds to make lasting change.
W is for ‘waiting’:
Waiting to feel like change. Waiting to be feel inspired enough to take action. Or waiting till life gets extremely dire before choosing to change.
Unfortunately, this is not how the brain works. You will probably not feel like it. You must be able to overcome how you feel in order to take action.
Change is hard. Your brain makes it difficult for you to act, do something new and make change. The brain therefore presents feelings of resistance to deter you from making the choice to act
I is for ‘ignore’:
This refers to the fact that people (often unknowingly) ignore their brain health. The brain and nervous system are at the center of everything you do. The brain, the spinal cord, and the nerves all make up the nervous system. The nervous system regulates the way that your body functions and the way that you experience life. Everything from what you think and how you feel, how you act, and everything that you accomplish.
It is therefore critical that we all have some understanding of how it all works, but also most importantly, on how to look after our brains.
The second R is ‘reliving’ the past:
One of the main reasons that you aren't unable to make the sort of change that you desire is the fact that you are continuing to repeat your past.
You get stuck in a ‘thinking, feeling, and acting’ loop. You go round and round this circuit, thinking, feeling, and acting the same way. On repeat. You fire up the same neural pathways over and over again and it is no surprise that you continue to think, feel, and act the same way.
If you are unable to break this neural circuit, if you are unable to begin to think and feel and act differently, then all you are doing is reliving your past experiences repeatedly. Your past becomes your predictable future. Nothing changes despite really wanting to change. You must choose to break this neural pathway and create a new reality. New thoughts, feelings, and actions.
And the final E is ‘evidence’ of ‘what is’:
When you focus on what you see in front of you, as ‘evidence’ of what life is like, or of ‘what is’, then you put all your attention on the current status quo as in some way the full truth.
If you can only see failure or disappointment in your life, then you tell your brain that this is the ‘evidence’ of what is. You are a failure. You are a disappointment. You cannot see beyond this. You have to be able to move beyond the ‘evidence’ of what is and tap into your imagination.
The brain has selective attention. Wherever you place your attention and focus, you tend to see more and more of the same thing. If you continue to see where you are lacking or where you may feel that there is disappointment in your life, then you only see more of where you lack and sure enough that remains the evidence of what is, and nothing will change.
‘Your imagination is your preview of life's coming attractions.’ – Einstein.
You need to be able to move beyond saying, ‘this is what my life is like’, and relying purely on the ‘evidence’. You need to consider an alternative future and tap into your imagination.
Stephen Covey, the author, said the same. He believed that all ‘physical creation begins with our imaginations’.
So, today, identify where you may be making one of these mistakes. Acknowledge and accept that you can change but that perhaps you may need to arm yourself with science-based tools if you really want to make impactful and lasting change in your professional and personal life.
You must choose to rewire new neural pathways. You must choose to act even when it does not feel good and even when (especially when!) you don’t feel ready.
If you want to work with a coach to help you navigate and excel through change in your life, then book your free strategy call with me.