Inspire Change in Your Life by Making One

woman crossing unstable bridgeOnce upon a time, many years ago, in a kingdom called Freud, people believed insight led to change. Sometimes it did, though it often took four sessions a week for many years.

These days, we typically want something a bit faster. While insight can lead to change, change actually triggers more change. Thinking about starting yoga or meditation is often the catalyst to practicing; however, just getting one’s body to a yoga class or on a meditation cushion will produce more immediate results and a feeling of accomplishment.

Some of you might be thinking, “I have to psych myself up to do something new, especially something I find challenging or scary.” Of course you do! The trick is forging forth anyway. The artist Georgia O’Keeffe once said: “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” Apparently, that worked well for her. Note the key words: “I wanted to do.” Most people can muster the courage to do something they find intimidating if the potential payoff is great enough. If not, no one would have a baby, start a new job, ski, or do anything daunting.

Have you ever done something that really scared you? Of course you have. How did it change you? You may want to spend a few minutes thinking about that. Perhaps it allowed you to access a talent that was lying dormant, or to find some inner strength you didn’t know you possessed. On the other hand, maybe the experience gave you a cosmic permission slip to never do it again. No matter what happened, just by taking a risk and doing something, anything, you created all sorts of changes. Some of these might not even be apparent, like physiological memories that accrue unconsciously. For example, the first time you tried to swim or do a yoga posture actually set in motion a whole new physical template full of possibilities.

Conversely, you might want to allow yourself to opt out of an activity, giving yourself the option to leave some dragons unslayed. As that may be a change for those of you who are hell-bent on facing every challenge, it might lead to a different kind of change, one where you allow yourself to take it easy.

Does perfectionism stop you from trying new things? Most perfectionists are wary about embarking on new adventures, as they fear doing poorly. As David Burns said in his book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy: dare to be average. It eases internal pressure to excel while giving you an opportunity to experiment. In yoga, we call this beginner’s mind. Cultivating beginner’s mind eliminates the pressure to do an awesome job when you are trying something new, and makes room for simply having fun.

Once you can appreciate how anything you do adds to your life experiences, thereby affecting everything else you do, you may find yourself welcoming all sorts of novel experiences, whether you are successful at them or not. It’s not about doing well; it’s about just doing. Try it and see how you grow.

© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Nicole Urdang, MS, NCC, DHM, LMHC, therapist in Buffalo, New York

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Terra

    Terra

    July 17th, 2014 at 6:05 AM

    I love it- it’s not about doing things well, it’s just about doing it.
    That’s a great concept that I think I am going to try to make my new mission in life!

  • Russell

    Russell

    July 17th, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    Never quite sure about those people who profess to want to see change in their lives and yet they continue to do the same things over and over again that guess what, always gives them the same results as before. How can you ever expect things to change when you are not willing to try to do something in a new way?

  • Nicole

    Nicole

    July 17th, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    Hi Terra,
    Glad this struck a chord with you.
    Nicole

  • Nicole

    Nicole

    July 17th, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    Hi Russell,

    Actually, things are changing all the time, whether we initiate those changes, or not. My view is it’s far more proactive to feel as if you’re in the driver’s seat.

    Thanks for taking the time to write.
    Nicole

  • randi

    randi

    July 18th, 2014 at 7:16 AM

    I suppose that this is one of those times where you see that true change begets change. You start moving in the right direction and then that will only continue. That’s a fantastic thing to see that you have created this kind of forward momentum in your life!

  • Jeanna

    Jeanna

    July 21st, 2014 at 4:16 AM

    Think about the many ways that you might inspire someone else, especially close friends or family, who could be going thru something that feels so insurmountable to them, and think about how your life actions could inadvertently encourage not only them but you as well. I think that there are times where we forget about how the things that we do also have influence over others and how our actions can also change the lives of others. This could be fore better or for worse, but we are always impacting the life of someone else even if we don’t always know that.

  • Nicole Urdang

    Nicole Urdang

    July 21st, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    Hi Jeanna,

    You are so right. We don’t realize the impact our behavior and choices have on others. So, when we bravely try something new, whether it’s a career change, move, or merely eating more vegetables, we quietly inspire those in our orbit to break out of their habit patterns.

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