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16 Steps To Creating Change In Your Life

Sam Mishra (The Medical Massage Lady), is a multi-award winning massage therapist, aromatherapist, accredited course tutor, oncology practitioner, trauma practitioner and breathwork facilitator. Her medical background as a nurse and a midwife, combined with her own experiences of childhood disability and abuse, have resulted in a diverse and specialised service.

 
Executive Contributor Sam Mishra

People often ask me how I managed to overcome all of my traumas and the obstacles that stood in the way of a happy life. The truth is, I’ve not completely overcome them; I would say I’ve found a way to live alongside them. I continue to experience triggers, occasionally make poor decisions, and react with instinctive reactions rooted in the buried trauma in my brain. It’s human nature to make mistakes, but it’s through constant re-evaluation that we hopefully learn from them. It has taken me many years to start to process everything that I have suppressed, but sometimes having trust in the process and in the possibility of something better only comes with the wisdom of age. 


: Change ahead sign on the road disappearing into the distance.

One thing is certain: The best way to create change is to work from the inside out, confronting and accepting qualities about yourself that may be unpleasant and that you try to hide, and making a conscious commitment to your own self-development in the process. By following the steps that I will outline here, it is possible to become the most authentic and empowered version of yourself. 


1. Bring awareness into your choices

Change is hard, and the thought of deconstructing our old ways of thinking can make us feel like we’re losing control. It’s uncomfortable, and we don’t like to leave our comfort zone where we feel safe. It is common for many of us, particularly those affected by trauma, to make choices in life that we’re not even consciously aware of making. One could argue that your life is in a particular state because your subconscious desires and unconscious commitments have shaped it. Until we take accountability for our unconscious choices, we can’t make a conscious choice to change the situation. Some of these unconscious choices could have potentially been different if we’d had more awareness. Even choosing not to make a choice is an unconscious act that reinforces a pattern we find comfortable. 


So, how do we really start to make conscious choices? We must start by setting our intentions. What are we looking for in order to be happy? Then we need to take responsibility for our current reality and hold ourselves accountable for our negative traits and decisions that we made without any real awareness. We must also view whatever commitment we make to ourselves as a mechanism that will help us reach our full potential, rather than a restriction, re-evaluating along the way and creating new commitments when needed. 


2. Listen to your body and meditate 

Part of this awareness that we should bring into our decision-making is recognising the signals that your physical body gives you, because usually when we think or feel a certain way, the emotion is held in the body. This may be a heaviness in the chest area or a restriction in the throat. These signs can give us clues as to why we think or act a certain way, sometimes bringing about an awareness of issues from our past that we have suppressed, so that we can take responsibility and make a new conscious choice. Meditation can be a really useful tool for raising your awareness of this sense. 


3. Be present

By cultivating a sense of embodied presence, you increase your capacity to meet any challenges head-on. Presence is about curiosity and exploring your role in the situation and other possibilities, rather than diving headfirst into making an unconscious choice or hiding behind opinions. Sometimes this ‘time out’ to really think, feel, and explore can introduce some feelings of discomfort, which is why we tend to rush decision-making in an attempt to feel comfortable again. Presence is about feeling and accepting your authentic self and feelings and being completely in your own sensory experience without distraction. 


4. Making friends with your emotional triggers

Triggers are situations where we become activated to the point that some part of our past is reawakened and we sense the emotion in our body. They bring with them strong emotions such as anger, shame, fear, and guilt, and echo times where we behaved in a certain way in order to seek approval or love. Often, this stems from the social conditioning we underwent as children, and when the trigger reactivates, it reminds us of the damaged part of ourselves. We are the only ones who can process our emotions by taking responsibility, rather than blaming someone else and exploring the root of that emotion. Unless we do this, our nervous system remains in survival mode; we lose control of our responses and actions, and it is simply a waiting game for the next trigger. For those who cannot remember the details of their trauma, it becomes a case of acknowledging themselves as damaged. 


Triggers can become an opportunity to consciously get to know ourselves better rather than abandoning ourselves and becoming overwhelmed by the pain of the initial trauma.

 

5. Recognize your personality type

We all have certain personality traits that are more dominant, and these can affect our relationships and our own sense of self-worth. Karpman identified three archetypes: the victim, the rescuer, and the persecutor. These archetypes are frequently the result of social conditioning, whether as children or from past relationships, and they often mean that we project our own issues onto other people. We can only break these dysfunctional cycles by taking responsibility for our roles, a challenging task given our aversion to confronting perceived negative aspects of ourselves. 


We often rely on others to resolve our problems, as we have become accustomed to living in a state of passive control. We develop self-sabotaging behaviours because we hold onto feelings of fear, shame, guilt, and anger that may have been caused years ago. When our connection to others stems solely from our desire to feel needed or in control, and when others determine our purpose in life instead of ourselves, we often experience feelings of abandonment, as the other person eventually ceases to need us. 


By becoming aware of the archetypes we fall into, we are then able to examine the root causes. When we transform ourselves and the way that we think, others will react differently to you.


6. Don't be afraid to present yourself as the authentic you

authentic you. Karl Jung said that people have a certain way of presenting themselves as a coping mechanism to keep them safe, and they may even believe that they are what they present themselves to be. The individual must consistently present themselves in this manner to increase acceptance of their identity. It involves balancing one's personal preferences and appearance to create a flawless self-portrait. 


These personas are fine as long as you have the self-awareness to know that you are not identical in the way that you appear. If you are unconscious of this fact, then people will realise that you are different from how you appear in public, so they will be left wondering which is the real you, and consequently, there will be conflict. 


So that we don’t lose sight of who we really are, we must reflect on any aspects of our vulnerability that we feel unable to share with others and examine the reasons why intimacy is so uncomfortable for us. 


7. Make ourselves the priority 

It is very common to ignore our own needs and prioritise someone else’s, particularly when we have experienced trauma or as a way to gain acceptance. Once we've made this a habit, the thought of prioritizing our own needs and abandoning our routines can instill in us a fear of rejection or loss of love. We can still support someone and show them that they are important to us, without taking away their ability to solve their own problems. Surely it is better to be self-aware and accountable, but perhaps perceived as a little selfish, than to overstep the boundaries by taking away somebody else’s responsibility and losing oneself in the process. 


8. Find your purpose

Most of us, if we really thought about it, would recognise that there are things in our lives that we should probably let go of, but whenever we break a pattern, it should be a conscious choice rather than a forced reaction. We should also have some idea of what it is that we want in life in order to overcome any resistance and make the necessary changes to move forward. Viewing resistance as a positive thing—something better—rather than a reason to dissociate is a valid perspective. If we identify our purpose or goal in life, then we can work out what it is that doesn’t serve us any more by taking accountability for the situation we are currently in. To overcome any resistance that arises with the idea of changing, consider the reasons for avoiding change and the positive effects of making that shift. This could mean that we have to address some parts of our personality that we have tried to hide, and we may need to forgive ourselves. 


9. Avoid co-dependency

When we have experienced a lot of trauma, it becomes very easy to fall into toxic cycles and co-dependent relationships; we act from the motivation of control and approval rather than from our true selves, often leading to us taking actions that we don’t want to take and overriding our own feelings. This usually results in the opposite effect from the one we are trying to create. Seeking approval and pleasing people become priorities purely to avoid disapproval. Despite our best efforts, we often find ourselves concealing secrets, suppressing our emotions and viewpoints, and frequently critiquing or receiving criticism from others. We spend our time worrying about how others feel but ignore our own emotions. Relationships become a game of control, recycling arguments, trying to prove someone wrong, and possibly playing the victim to stop an argument. Eventually, we devote all our energy to either controlling others or attempting to control them. 


By following the previous steps, we can avoid co-dependent relationships and find a better balance between others and ourselves. 


10. Take a look at your external environment

What does your outer world reflect to you about yourself? Occasionally, we experience pain when we create space for someone to realize their full potential, only for them to fail to utilize it. But if we are to avoid taking on personas as a coping mechanism, we must respect that those around us have their own journey, and we may need to step away and allow them to have that moment, understanding that they are resourceful and empowering them to be their authentic selves. When you empower someone else in this way, you can also be your authentic self around them. 


11. Be truthful about your own experience 

There may be various reasons why we withhold the truth. Maybe we were surrounded by people who lied when we were growing up, and we never learned how to be truthful. Sometimes we lie to safeguard the other person's feelings, yet discussing even the most trivial matters can uncover more significant issues that require attention. Learning to be honest about our perception of a situation, without triggering or blaming others, can facilitate our understanding. 


If we are to be truthful about how we feel, then we must also give ourselves permission to feel all of our emotions, not only the positive ones but also those that we may have been punished for as children or those that led to rejection, and this includes when we don’t feel anything, because that is in itself a feeling. If we are unable to comprehend our own emotions, we tend to suppress our needs and priorities, making it difficult for others to understand our emotional state. 


12. You are the reason that you're where you are 

There is a theory that wherever we are in our lives, we are there because that is where we unconsciously choose to be. If we can be aware that we are the source of our own reality, then we can create whatever life we want for ourselves. Nobody else can be responsible for our lives, and even in cases of severe trauma, it may feel like the abuser has control of your life, but we are responsible for creating our story from now on. 


13. Accept the darker aspect of your personality

Nobody wants to be perceived in a negative light. The truth is, we all have parts of our personality that we wish we could hide, and if we don’t take responsibility for those parts, then we project them onto others, usually hurting them in the process, even though we may do that unconsciously. However, the shadow can be a positive force, motivating us to pursue our true purpose in life. However, because it often stems from learned behaviours from childhood, it can also trigger feelings of shame, which can halt us in our tracks. This makes judging others when they reflect our triggers back at us much easier than passing judgement on ourselves or showing others who we really are. 


Often, as we identify our goal and begin to take steps towards it, our shadow, the negative aspect of ourselves that we attempt to conceal from others, may confront us. This can make us fearful of change, but if we are to become more self-aware, then we must also acknowledge these less favourable parts of our personality. If we don’t, we start to fall into personas and project them onto others instead of dealing with challenges that make us feel unsafe. When we embrace our shadow, we can start to see that our vulnerability is a strength rather than something that we need to protect ourselves from, and we can start to realise that the idea that we aren’t good enough is simply our interpretation rather than the truth. 


14. Go back to when it all began 

The body is like a filing cabinet, storing every memory, every experience, and every relationship that has happened in your life. While some of this information may be painful for us to become acquainted with, it can be a valuable resource in helping us understand where we need to make a change in order to fulfil our purpose. We can explore various events in our lives, but these may not be, as we believe, where problems began. By returning to our birth, we can often identify factors that started a chain reaction in our lives. We can then realise that some of the challenges in our lives were set in place when we were born, and we are not to blame, but we can take responsibility for how much control they have over our lives from now on. 


15. Rediscover your inner child

The first seven years of our lives are crucial for developing a resilient nervous system, which impacts how we process and store emotions in the body. Our birth, schooling, parent experiences, sibling relationships, and any loss of choice or traumatic experiences will greatly influence the adult we develop into, as we are unable to advocate for ourselves at such a young age. By forming an intimate relationship with this early part of ourselves, we can explore everything that we have suppressed, opening up our subconscious and recognising where our blockages are. Reuniting these damaged parts of ourselves allows us to heal and resume making conscious choices. 


16. Make self-development a priority 

Only by cleaning our closet can we overcome negative emotions and our loss of identity. It is common for people to be attracted to those who have the same fears and, therefore, the same expectations of negative emotions, but this creates dysfunctional relationships and disconnection. If we can overcome our social conditioning, we are better able to make our own authenticity a priority, and when we are able to be our true selves without fear, we can then give fully to another person. 


 

Sam Mishra, The Medical Massage Lady

Sam Mishra (The Medical Massage Lady), is a multi-award winning massage therapist, aromatherapist, accredited course tutor, oncology practitioner, trauma practitioner and breathwork facilitator. Her medical background as a nurse and a midwife, combined with her own experiences of childhood disability and abuse, have resulted in a diverse and specialised service. She is motivated by the adversity she has faced, using it as a driving force in her charity work and in offering the vulnerable a means of support. Her aim is to educate about medical conditions using easily understood language, to avoid inappropriate treatments being carried out and for health promotion purposes in the general public.

 

References:


  • Hendricks, G. & Hendricks, K. (1992) Conscious Loving:The Journey to Co-Commitment. Bantam Books. 

  • Hopcke, R.H. (1999) "Persona" in A guided tour of the Collected Works of C. G. Jung. Shambhala Publications Inc. 

  • Karpman, S. B. (1968) Fairy Tales and Script Analysis. Transactional Analysis Bulletin. 7(26), 39–43.

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