How to Ignite Personal ChangeThe outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to reflect their inner beliefs. ~James Allen
The first step to create personal change is to recognize the reoccurring patterns in our life that no longer serve us. Lately, I started to see that such a pattern surfacing in my life story.
The first time I took on an assignment for a newspaper, one whose readership was larger than most of the blogs I had been writing for, I was terrified.
I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to properly pronounce the subject’s name, that I wouldn’t be taken seriously because of my inability to look older than 21, that I wouldn’t be able to write fast enough to take down the most pertinent details.
But more importantly, I was afraid that I wasn’t a journalist and I would never be recognized as one.
After jotting down too many notes for a 250-word article and asking for more quotes than I could ever use, I sat down to construct a fact-only story. Unfortunately, feelings are my forte, so keeping everything compact and to the point was a struggle.
Once the hard labor was complete, I sent it off, fingers crossed, hoping that I would get a gold star and a “good job!”
But editors, as I’ve discovered, aren’t like teachers or coaches, handing out trophies to the losing team and telling every kid they’re special. Mine simply said there were several corrections that needed to be made.
In reality, it wasn’t that bad. Yes, there were details that could be omitted and sentences that could do with some re-wording. Yet the pit in my stomach was telling me, “See, you aren’t a writer after all.” And I listened.
Then, when the article actually was published, I was surprised to see that it was labeled as a “staff story,” without my name and picture–the one payback I had for writing the article in the first place.
After a little bit of inquiry, I found out that the omission was a mistake, not an intentional declaration that my mistakes had cost me my byline.
Once the frustration had subsided to a small pin prick of annoyance, I realized that not receiving the recognition and accolades for my accomplishments had become an experience I continued to have over and over and over again. It was one of my “records”–those stories we tell ourselves that continue to play in the background of our minds and our experiences, causing us to unintentionally recreate them.
I remembered having dramatic conversations with my parents when I was a teenager, screaming at them between sobs that they paid more attention to my sister’s singing than they did to my artwork. I remembered designing a program for a school play, only to have my name omitted from the “thank you” list.
Not being recognized was, in all honesty, what I expected. So the Universe said, “Ok, here you go then.”
And the cycle continued.
Ironically, the same day that I had received the less than glowing remarks from my editor, I received an email from a reader of my blog with nothing but praise for my writing style. Of course the compliments were a dull whisper while the criticism was a loud roar — so you can guess what I spent the rest of the night dwelling on.
This simply allowed that record of mine to play louder and louder and louder.
Yet, a few days later, when I was able to recognize the pattern for what it was–something I had created from my own thoughts–I was able to give myself the recognition I deserved.
While the lessons are still taking root in my thoughts and actions, here is what I took away from this realization so far.
1. Pattern & Root Cause
Recognize the patterns in your life and get to the root of the thought process that created them.
When similar situations continue to crop up in your life, it’s probably time to stop blaming the outside world and take a look at what seeds your thoughts are planting.
My logical mind told me that the world wasn’t conspiring to keep me from being acknowledged, in fact, I already was being acknowledged. I was just too invested in choosing who gave me that acknowledgement.
2. You Are In Control
Taking responsibility for your reality also means taking your power back.
It may be easier to play the victim, but it’s far more empowering to recognize that you are in control of what’s going on around you. This means you no longer have to wait for apologies, accolades, or whatever you may seek from others, everything you need is already created by you and found within you.
I tend to rely on others to validate my existence. Realizing that I would never get from others what I could give to myself was huge–and still a work in progress.
3. Positive Payback
Pay attention to the payback you receive by continuing to play your record.
When I stopped to think why I continued to create this lack of support and acknowledgement in my life, I realized (reluctantly) that I get some satisfaction out of having people feel sorry for me.
I like being comforted and having friends and family rally around me when I tell them how I have been “wronged.” That, I recognized, was my payback for continuing to play this record I had created for myself.
Every situation we create for ourselves–positive and negative–has some form of payback. It may be hard to recognize the payback in what we deem a “negative” situation, but if you look hard enough, you’ll see that it’s there. Noticing it can offer you the chance to create a positive situation that offers a payback with the same amount (or more) satisfaction.
I’m in the midst of taking on article assignment #2. My nerves are still frayed, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about creating something print-worthy. But it’s empowering to know that I can recognize criticism for what it is, no longer looking at it from the eyes of an angst-ridden teen who thinks the world is out to get her.
No matter what I create, I am already enough.