Do you know what the biggest lie we tell ourselves is?
I cannot change.
This false belief is at the core of why so many people get stuck in a rut, living out the same old thinking and behavioural habits, often for years.
It is also apparent that one of the most common challenges in business, if not the most common, is how to implement meaningful change and have it stick.
Yer something that has also become crystal clear to me is that, on an individual basis, change happens in an instant.
It does not need to take years of thinking about something, waiting for the right time, waiting to feel right or using willpower.
If you look back on your life you can always find examples of when change happened smoothly and naturally, and when you understand the mechanism it makes future change so much easier and pain-free.
Capacity for change
I saw a brilliant example of instant change when I was over in the US, spending two days with George and Linda Pransky of Pranksy and Associates. I have learned a huge amount from them, and their understanding of human psychology is right at the cutting-edge.
Linda wanted to do a demonstration of how change works, so she asked for a volunteer. She wanted someone who had a particularly persistent problem or issue in their life.
A guy called Andy raised his hand and Linda asked him what he wanted to talk about.
He explained he had an issue with his father that had caused him a great deal of pain and anger in his life. It all stemmed from one incident that had happened many years previously.
When Andy was about five years old, the housekeeper thought it would be amusing to teach him swear words.
One evening at the family dinner table, Andy had finished his food and was playing under the table. He started repeatedly saying one of the words he had been taught, a four-letter word starting with 'F'.
On hearing this Andy’s father yanked Andy out from under the table and put him under his arm, striding towards the kitchen.
He shouted: “How dare you say that, I’m going to burn your tongue off!”
He then opened the oven door as if to put Andy’s head there (which he didn’t do, by the way).
Ever since then, the incident had triggered an intense anger in Andy and in his feelings towards his father.
Linda asked Andy if he had his own children, to which he replied that he did.
She asked if he loved them, and he said yes. She asked Andy if he thought his father loved him. Again, he said yes.
She asked Andy if he had ever got angry in the moment with his children. He said he had.
While acknowledging that Andy’s father’s behaviour had been extreme, intense and even questionable, Linda then asked Andy if he thought it came from a place where he had his best interests at heart?
Andy reflected without saying a word and we all sat there in complete silence. After a couple of minutes, he looked back at Linda and quietly said…
In a single moment all of Andy’s pain and anger had gone, never to return. 50 years of it, then gone. Instead peace.
So, what happened?
Andy experienced a leap in consciousness. He experienced a new reality because his thinking no longer looked real to him, and it therefore had no power over him.
Change comes in many forms. It might be losing weight for good, giving up an addiction or a refusal to play the victim.
Equally, it might be becoming a more powerful coach, planner or leader, building a better business, reinventing yourself or rebuilding a relationship.
Whatever it is, whenever we truly change, it is always when we have a shift in consciousness.
Change very rarely happens when we try to think our way into it, or force it.
However, as soon as we see the connection between our thoughts and our feelings, that loosens the grip thinking has and allows new thinking to come forth.
This is what happened with Andy. Of course, Linda knows what she is doing, but that same capacity for change resides in all of us, all the time.
Change is only ever one thought away.