Successful positive change always starts from changing your internal reality

Guest post by Gilbert Ross @Soulhiker


Did you even wonder how many ‘on the back of the cereal box’ recipes and remedies for life can be found anywhere around us?  We live in the ‘quick fix’ culture that feeds on our hectic and neurotic lifestyles, desperately trying to find a fast and effective way to solve anything from petty mundane practical problems to life transformation issues in a few and simple anecdotes.

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In our so-called modern times, even before the Internet itself, we had multiple media sources that provided simple how-to techniques in order to improve this, master that or achieve anything in one week or less. Magazines, books, T.V programs and advertising spooled out torrents of advice about anything from losing weight effortlessly without dieting or exercising to finding true happiness in a shoe box.

It’s a phenomenon of our times I’m sure everyone is aware of. People are hungry for information, specifically they are hungry for information that either satisfies their cravings and desires or gets them one step closer to achieve their dreams. Coupled with the fact that people don’t have time (or money…or patience) to go for long-term solutions or dive into some complicated and esoteric philosophy, the ‘do-it-yourself in a few simple steps’ economy emerged.

I might be sounding dead honestly cynical, which up to a certain amount I am, but I do not mean to be cynical about life-improving advice itself. Far from that I don’t see anything wrong with simple and easy techniques to help people achieve whatever they are set to achieve.

Change starts from within

What I do believe, however, is that there can only be real life-changing situations if there is real life-changing realizations. I’ll explain.

When people go through significant and life-transforming change, like for example, breaking old habits, building new ones, overcoming fears, getting things done or achieving any form of success in life, it is usually because something internal to them has changed.

That ‘something internal’ can be called the internal reality of the individual or some would call it his/her system of values and beliefs.

Everything starts from our system of beliefs. It is our motivational engine. All our actions follow it faithfully. If, for example, someone has a negative outlook in life, it is because his system of beliefs is ‘programmed’ that way. He might have a lot of subconscious beliefs that say ‘I am unlucky’ or ‘good things never last’ or ‘I am not made for this’ and so on. These subconscious beliefs filter the world around him as he turns to interpret the things happening in his life with a more negative tone. His actions will also be conditioned and influenced by his negatively skewed perspective on life.

If he had to ‘reprogram’ his mental predispositions to start classifying things positively and take positive action towards his goals and needs, then it is natural to assume that he has to change his system of beliefs before anything else. This shift is essential because it will secure the groundwork for further positive change.

Any life coach will spend hours telling you on the importance of shifting perspective. This shift in perspective is first born out of a realization. It is that ‘A-ha!’ moment that is either brought about spontaneously and incidentally through some experience or through someone else guiding you to it.

The Paradigm Shift

I often see a lot of very good and valuable advice in the form of simple tips & techniques on many sites. I also truly admire their parsimony and practicality but I also think to myself “it’s just a little bit too dry to stick. If it had more juice in it in terms of also encouraging shifts in perspectives, it would really make it a winner.”

Every big change starts from a paradigm shift. It is a starting point common to every life-changing journey. We all have our own paradigm built over many years of experiences and social conditioning. When we are stuck in a rut or passing through a difficult patch in life we often turn to easy short-term solutions. This is however counter-productive sometimes since it wastes our time and energies on roads that don’t take us very far. The reason being that we are stuck in believing that change can happen outside of us by changing or tweaking a few things.

If we had to invest just a little more time and slow down we then realize that it is far more effective and efficient to change something in ourselves first.  Changing our perspective on life can be so empowering, liberating and motivating. It gives you a sense of freedom and achievement that is an end in itself apart from being a means to successfully reaching some goal.

The extra mile is always worth it

My advice is simple. When your heart is resolute to change something, either because that something has caused trouble or suffering or because it is your desire to change positively, ask yourself : “If something inside of me really wants to change this and I know that it will affect the rest of my life positively, isn’t it worth it not to cut corners short and invest some more time to explore it?”. Then something else inside of you will pounce back on you and say “But I don’t have time! I have to finish the report, the house re-decoration, take care of the kids…and so on”. (Be warned it will happen).

You will then say to yourself in calm reassurance “yes I will take more time to explore it because I know that this is the classical situation where I stop giving excuses, put in that little extra effort and I will be paid back big time. I will not miss out on this investment opportunity”

This does not mean you throw the simple techniques out of your window. It means doing a little more research and applying those techniques to a wider setting. It means taking time to understand your motivations and beliefs and asking yourself honest questions such as “Is this assumption really helping me or obstructing me from reaching this goal?” or “Which beliefs or perspectives should I change if I really want to reach this goal?”.

On this topic of changing perspective I recommend reading  Jack Canfield’s ‘The Success Principles’, Wayne Dyer’s ‘Your erroneous zones’ or Stephen M. Pollan & Mark Levine’s “Thinking your way to Happiness”.