Written by: Lauren Cartigny, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
The magic formula of behaviour change must be as valuable if not more valuable than the formula for anti-ageing or hair regrowth. Why?! Because when we can make any desired behaviour happen due to our free will, we are free. Isn’t freedom a holy grail of personal development?
This article aims to explain the challenges behind changing our habits and share simple steps in the change of our mindset needed to get one step closer to feeling back in control of the choices we make to better ourselves.
“Everything can be taken from a man … but the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” – Viktor Frankl
Why does this quote matter? Because developing the power of self-awareness is how we can free ourselves from our limiting beliefs by making desired changes in our mindset, in our emotions, and in our actions a reality. If we could all create new habits easily, the personal development industry wouldn’t be worth over 40 billion dollars today.
As human beings, we are used to continuous change, especially when we are young, we seem less scared to face change than when we are grown up. Why is that? Aren’t we more experienced in life? Why do we resist change so much and why does it seem to become harder as we grow older?
Mindset Shift No.1 – Believe change is possible
The biggest barrier to transformation is not believing we can change or perceiving it as too difficult. We are only limited by the way we perceive ourselves.
I have always been this way. I will never change. This is our ego’s voice trying to keep us in our safe familiar selves. Our upbringing, parenting, schooling, personality types and life experiences determined our beliefs, values, our fears, our sources of joy, triggers for sadness, anger, and the rest!
So, while most of our core ways of perceiving the world isn't our fault, it is our responsibility to change this if we want a different and better outcome for ourselves. When we change how we perceive ourselves, we change the beliefs which limit us from being different, from being a more expanded version of ourselves which is always available to us. Our ego, in simple terms, is a set of beliefs which are used to check if something is safe or unsafe.
When I was younger, I had low confidence and self-esteem and my environment reinforced this. I didn’t believe in myself or the possibility of change. I had low ambitions and accepted success as simply getting by. Between the age of 15 and 17, my environment changed, I moved from France to England, I had new friends, and my negative beliefs were not being reinforced as much.
I noticed a lot of progress quickly in learning a new language, learning a new way of making friends, and more freedom in the schooling system. My old beliefs were challenged as I wasn’t the shy, struggling schoolgirl I had known before, but a fast learning and thriving teenager, who felt like she was given a blank slate to be whoever she wanted and a fresh start. I became more confident mainly because of being in a new more supportive environment.
The first discovery Executive Coaching session is the most important, because this is where I can see if there is the right mindset to succeed in making a lasting change.
Mindset Shift No.2 – Decide to invest time in yourself
Just like when we go to the gym to build muscle, it takes time to see external results when it comes to building self-awareness and changing our mindset.
We are the most important person in our lives. Why? Because how we see the world is how we experience relationships and situations. When we change how we see it, we change our experience of the world around us. Isn’t this logical? Therefore, isn’t our outer world a reflection of our inner world?
When I adapted to a new country, I was lucky that my entire environment was new, so it made it easier to be ‘new’, as I didn't have the old reminders that “I struggle, and things are always hard for me”’ so I stopped believing that. I worked hard but I didn't struggle. I evolved and thrived in this new environment. Changing our environment can be a huge accelerator for change. In my case, the environmental change triggered having to self-reflect to adapt. I had to better understand myself to make a call on what I needed to change to fit in and succeed.
However, when our environment doesn't change so drastically, showing up for ourselves differently to overcome our familiar selves is harder. Doing this alone is very unlikely because when we are left alone to battle with our subconscious ego, it will win most of the time. This is because it is designed to prevent change at all costs to keep us safe based on outdated rules we made up between the age of 3-7 years old. Alone, we are blind to our ego’s tricks. Read my previous article about this here. This is why we need to decide to invest in ourselves: to learn to manage and hack our ego’s resistance to change. We need someone else to help us with this to see our blind spots.
Just like at the gym, you have a coach to guide you through exercises in a class which you could do yourself, self-awareness is a lot easy to develop when guided by a coach and can be an even richer experience in a group because you witness other people’s mindsets which either confirm or challenge your beliefs.
Mindset Shift No.3 – Commit to an ongoing transformation process
We need a new environment to make it easier to access the new version of ourselves that we seek.
It is only in an encouraging space that we can safely practice new ways of perceiving ourselves, perceiving others and thinking differently about our situations while minimising the triggering of our ego to resist. But where do we go from here once we have decided to invest in support to make a change?
How drastic is the change you are seeking to make? How quickly do you want to change? What are the implications of failing to make this change? What if you succeed? What if you don’t? All these things determine what is at stake behind this transformation and therefore the amount of time, energy, and finances you will commit.
The fitness and nutrition industry has demonstrated how coaching can accelerate physical transformation. Why is there still so much resistance to paying for a business or life coach to accelerate making a change to your mental and emotional states?
I believe it is because of the mindset shift no 1. Most people will listen to their inner voice, their ego telling them, that change isn't possible, because the ego sees change as a threat and its job is to protect us. The other way it lies to us is with positivity bypassing in mindset shift no 2, trying to make us think we can do it alone, knowing deep down we will fail, and therefore reinforcing our ego’s wishes. Doesn't it make sense? Yes, our mind lies to us. A lot!
It’s our job to discover how our ego is stopping us from achieving our goals and our dreams. This is why we need to invest in developing self-awareness to see our ego’s tricks and override them. This is what personal development seeks to achieve.
Mindset Shift No.4 – Succeed in making a lasting change
To transform, I believe that all we have to do is believe change is possible, decide to invest in ourselves, and commit to a guided consistent process of change and we will succeed in our desired outcome. Simple, and yet so hard!
Sounds evident and easy, and yet 80% of most new year resolutions fail by the middle of February. Most people try to make a change on their own, fail and never try again. Ego predictably wins! No surprises.
Most people won’t seek support other than reading or listening to podcasts which can help but have a limited impact on creating profound lasting change as we need to practice feeling what the new behaviour feels like.
Some changes can happen alone of course when we are driven and have severe pain or consequences for not changing. Survival, motivation, and willpower alone can help us transcend our familiar self as the known is no longer perceived as safe.
When this isn’t the case, we need to seek support to find a safe space to practice being our unfamiliar selves and embodying the new behaviour that we seek to become. What is less known is that, ironically, the more self-aware we become, the smarter our ego gets, and the higher expertise we need for deeper successful interventions.
To Transform – Believe. Decide. Commit. Succeed.
Our environment, the people we surround ourselves with, consistent encouragement, accountability, and how we perceive ourselves are key to hacking our ego’s innate resistance to change.
So, to answer the question at the beginning of this article about why change becomes harder as we grow older, I believe it is because our ego is stronger, it has had more experience of “proven” times when changing was perceived or reinforced as “dangerous” or “unsuccessful”. This reinforces our beliefs, that we can’t do things, or that things are too hard to change. The more we tell ourselves things are hard, that we can’t do something, the more we believe it, and therefore we get stuck and stagnate.
What self-transformation are you seeking and why does it matter?
What keeps reinforcing why you can’t do this in your environment?
When have you last managed to make a change, what did you do?
If this article resonates, and you are looking to make a change, get in touch or join my free weekly group coaching to take a small step now in unlocking awareness with other like-minded professionals.
Lauren Cartigny, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Lauren Cartigny is a Business and Life Professional Coach for Executives and Conscious Leadership Trainer. Following a successful international corporate career in Sales for leading Tech firms, Lauren faced an unexpected burnout. After re-learning how to perform from a place of well-being as opposed to delivering results from a place of suffering, Lauren has created transformative coaching and training programs for high achieving Leaders seeking to empower themselves with self-knowledge to improve their well-being, their relationships, and their results. Lauren is the Founder of The Self-Science Lab a personal development training company for professionals seeking to find Peace, Power and Purpose.