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How people change

During a recent coaching conversation, I saw more clearly than ever before what needed to change in my life. My behavior, a way of thinking and acting, was holding me back professionally and creating friction in the relationships with those I care for most.

My response was to want to change it immediately.

But, as is true with most things we’ve been living with for a while, it wasn’t a “flip the switch” kind of change. I could want it to be different, but the thinking and actions are so ingrained in me that I will likely keep acting in that old way for a while, even though I know it’s not who I want to be.

If I’m paying attention and willing to do things differently, my insight will enable me to notice when I repeat that old pattern. I might even be able to stop, apologize, and start conversations again using my new thinking. If I do that enough, a new way of thinking and acting starts to form a new groove in my brain, and the change I desire will take place.

The hard part

Because of my clarity of insight, I’m now in touch with the pain this behavior causes me and those around me. So, when I slip into that old pattern, I experience not just the pain of the situation I’ve just been in, but I feel all the pain of all the times I’ve done something similar. It hurts. I feel terrible regret and failure.

In these situations, it can be tempting to label the behavior as “wrong” or “bad” and then use that judgment to beat myself up. “See, I’m doing that bad behavior. I’m an awful person…” That judgment triggers shame, making me want to hide. I might cover the behavior with defensiveness, try to justify it, or just run past it and ignore it.

But those behaviors will dig the groove of the old behavior and make change harder.

Starting again

Instead of judging that old behavior, I can choose to “start again.”

“Up until now, that’s how I was. But I’m on a new path now. I can do this differently.”

Where do you see self-judgment at work in your own life? Can you see how it’s keeping you stuck in that old behavior?

Hit reply and tell me about a situation where you want to see significant change!

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