“Progress is impossible without change, and those who
cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
– GEORGE BERNARD SHAW
Change has a very negative connotation for most people. On a deep emotional level we are creatures of comfort and we automatically seek out that which feels good in the moment. We long for comfort and this usually comes from that which we know; that which is familiar to us. Once we can comfortably deal with and “know” all the “unknowns” we can “relax” – because your nervous system and your mind is designed to find and attach a meaning(s) to everything and therefore something new is always a confrontation between that which is and that which will be in your mind.
The unknown is always something that your mind and your nervous system has to “unravel” afresh and this very process feels uncomfortable on many levels. When something becomes comfortable you get used to it as you remove all the “unknowns” and your automatic behaviour can take over again. Our nervous system works primarily by conditioning and by repetition we notice and assume patterns that are consistent. This system is really there to serve us in helping us being more efficient and to be able to do more, more efficiently. Your mind is designed to always look for the best way. Through repetition we learn certain orders and sequences in which things happen and we learn to recognize and respond according to these sequences. Every emotion you experience, for instance, is nothing but the result of a sequence of events and reactions triggered by your unconscious awareness that generates and creates the actual feeling which is nothing but a sensation in your nervous system.
To change anything you must first of all become aware of these patterns. You must become aware of what goes on under the surface of your conscious awareness. This is not difficult and everybody can do this. You need not understand everything about the human nervous system to use it. Simply be aware of the fact that there is a part of you that responds and acts “automatically” based on your past experiences and associations. The challenge is to go from one pattern, one that does not serve you, to one which does. You quite literally would have to change your mind in that you have to change the way you perceive yourself and your life. Doing things differently will feel uncomfortable at first, but you can rest assured that the “uncomfortable” will become “comfortable” as you start to form new associations and new patterns of association.
The process of making the “uncomfortable” comfortable or making the “unknown” known is the way we grow as human beings. What you are comfortable with represents your comfort zone which includes all the experiences that you can comfortably deal with. If you don’t expand this “zone” then you simply won’t expand yourself as a person. The need to grow and become more as a person, is a deep emotional need that all humans have. Without growth you simply won’t be happy. All growth, although it feels uncomfortable in the moment always feels immensely fulfilling in the long term and it is this feeling that we all really crave for; the feeling that we call “good”. You can do something that feels comfortable and “good” in the moment by staying with what you know, but true fulfilment comes from pushing beyond your comfort zone and creating a sense of pride in yourself. Growth means change and change involves risk and risk is the process of stepping from the known to the unknown.
The truth is that all of life is constantly in a process of change. Nothing ever stays the same. It is the nature of all of life, including you. Even if you do nothing life will still change. For you to progress, you have to decide to consciously initiate and create the change. You have to consciously put yourself in the uncomfortable place where you can grow and as you do this you progress. Progress is by choice while change is automatic. To be in control of your life you have to consciously choose to change and to keep changing yourself to become the person you want to be.
All change starts with a change of mind. You have to start by changing your thoughts about want you want to change. In changing the way you think about something you immediately change your perception and consequently the way you feel about it. When you change the way you feel you change your behaviour and that is how you progress. Constantly trying to change behaviour will rarely create long term and lasting change. Change your mind and the rest will follow! If you don’t change then you simply won’t grow and if you don’t grow you are not really living.