by: Sally Anderson
What does it take to experience transformation in the domains of our lives where we have never experienced mastery?
As we look forward to our future, it can also be rewarding to review how far we’ve come and what we’ve learned. I have had the privilege of coaching some amazing men and women in what I believe is the formula for experiencing transformation in the areas of life where they have not experienced mastery, and would love to share some of my observations with you. Please bear in mind that I do not present the following as truth, but purely as my own opinion, based on my own experience and that of my clients.
I never stop hearing clients say: ‘Sally, I want to change’. My response is usually, ‘I get that you want to change, but are you prepared to do what it takes to be committed to changing? There is a huge difference between the two.’ Understanding the difference is fundamental to the LIVE NOW Philosophy. Much of what I will speak about here relates to this philosophy.
I think of wanting as ‘shape shifting’, where humans live in a state of past and future projections, to which they add meaning, and continue to live a life of ‘doing’ where they are often struggling, overwhelmed, frustrated and angry. I see commitment, however, as a powerful state of transformation, where a person exists in a state of ‘being’, attracting synchronistic opportunities and living a life of integrity – a life of ease and flow.
In my opinion, people generally do not experience sustainable change in many areas of their lives because they do not realize that they get a lot out of keeping things in these areas exactly as they are. I believe that every human being has a default identity, which feeds their internal inner critic dialogue and keeps the person in the vicious cycle of not producing the results they want in their lives. Before transformation can occur in any area of life, that identity must be challenged. Usually people are not aware that they have a default identity, so before a client can transcend it, the coach must first presence the individual to its existence.
Clients will often say to me things like:
I do not set goals because I don’t want the definition of goals to constrain me.
I have done goal setting before, and it doesn’t work.
I have read the books, done the courses, and invested A LOT of money into my own transformation, but I struggle with sustaining change. I get the shot of euphoria at a course or from reading a book, but then I go back out into my life and the same old things still happen.
I think that beliefs and values are adopted in childhood; they then form our behavior, which forms the structures, which form the culture, which then forms the results. Most people try to incorporate change from the outer two layers of culture-results. For example, they might say, ‘I wish to lose weight’, and then expect the results to show up; or ‘I wish to dictate the cultural change within this organization’, and then expect the culture to change overnight. Then the individual and the organization are left wondering why the experience is not sustainable. If you want to achieve any level of sustainable change, you need to go much deeper – you need to unearth the ‘negative’ beliefs and values that were adopted in childhood and held in the subconscious, and ‘re-train’ or ‘re-program’ them into more positive, empowering beliefs.
Do you know that whenever you are triggered, it is never the current circumstances that are triggering you? It is always something unhealed from your childhood. When I meet a client aged 30, 40 or 50, they come to me with 25, 35 or 45 years of preconditioning in their default behavior. To sustainably circumvent decades of default behavior takes something! I believe that the default behavior is adopted at around 3-5 years of age. Children are present, they implicitly trust, and they do not have safety issues – these are learnt. They innately trust the unknown. From the minute a child interacts with others, walks and talks, he or she begins to adopt beliefs and values from parents, siblings, teachers, and his or her environment, and as a result the lid goes down on the child’s potential.
Therefore, when clients present themselves to me, they come with ‘what they know’. They live in a world – or box, as I call it – inside which they believe that they are safe and in control. The irony is that the box of what they know confines them, for they do not trust the unknown. When they step outside their box, they confront beliefs and behaviors that have kept them constrained for years, and two fundamental things occur: they experience fear, and their inner critic dialogue becomes a lot more vocal. If insufficient work has been done on their default behavior, they will go back inside the box of what they know – where any change they have made is not sustainable. To achieve any level of sustainability, they must learn to master their fear, master their inner critic, and trust the unknown.
Most coaches say that coaching is about the present and the future. I have an issue with this. I think that we are self-fulfilling prophecies if we do not heal our past preconditioning. Coaches also tend to view any past-based interaction with a client as counselling or psychotherapy, and outside the realm of coaching. I disagree. I am not interested in delving into the past for the sake of dragging up old wounds. I am, however, very interested in helping people regain their power, and to do this I need to show them that their past is forever in their future and they are not even aware of it half the time. We read time and again that ‘what we think creates our reality’, yet we are not taught to be vigilant with our thought structures.
I believe that moment by moment by moment, we are either in our default or in our power. How do you live in your power all the time? You have to begin by believing that it is possible, and then you need to learn certain tools to help you maintain any change you make. Here are some of the sustainable tools I teach clients in my own coaching programmes:
1. How to master your inner critic dialogue;
2. How to be a 10 every day and sustain that state;
3. How to de-trigger within a mili-second regardless of what comes at you (rather than live in a triggered state for an hour, a day, a week, a month etc);
4. How to live ‘in the zone’ and be the conduit for attracting synchronistic opportunities to come to you;
5. How to stop doing life – experiencing struggle, overwhelm, anxiety, frustration, anger – and start living a life of being which results in an experience of living in flow, with ease, no longer striving to accomplish goals but attracting and manifesting goals as a function of who you are being;
6. How to end the lifetime of sabotage and learn experiential compassion for yourself … and the list goes on.
Experiencing any of the above is like walking on water!
I disagree with those who believe that happiness lies in the fulfilment of goals. I have clients who pretty much ‘have it all’, but are not happy. I also have many clients who want what those clients have, thinking that when they get ‘there’ (wherever that is) they will be happy. I see so many people striving for a future that is no more than an illusion, not realizing that happiness is a choice only accessible in the present – but that’s another paper in itself!
This is not to say that I discredit the power of obtaining goals. Be very clear to the universe about what you want, just do not be attached to how it shows up! Rather than striving for goals in the world of doing, we can all arrive into the state of being and attract what we want as a function of who we are being. Do you realize that on any given day, from the minute you are awake, your thoughts are primarily past- or future-based and you are hardly ever present? I believe that the magic we all seek lies in the unknown, and the ability to access the unknown can only exist in the present moment. Oh, but to be present, one would have to FEEL again …
Buggar that! Let’s go back into the mind chatter of past and future thought structures. Your life will be transformed when you live in the reality of the present. The past is no more than a thought, and exists nowhere other than in a thought, so why do we keep feeding it? The future is an illusion, and can only be a function of what we think in the ‘now’ moment. When you collapse your past and future thought structures and train yourself to live in the present moment, you will no longer be living in a world of thought and illusion, but in the reality of the present moment. Your life will be excitingly unrecognizable!
For this, you need to come back to want versus commitment. It really takes something to be committed – and it is something you choose moment by moment based in what it is you say you are committed to. With commitment comes responsibility and integrity, and I believe that to experience true freedom you must transform your relationship to these three things:
Sadly, most people have no freedom with commitment, and even view it as a prison sentence. Most people’s relationship with responsibility is heavily weighted from the past, so they have no freedom in the ‘now’ moment. And most people’s relationship to integrity is that they do their version of it when it suits. To experience trust in the freedom to be, you must learn to transcend the past and transform your relationship to these three areas.
In one of my seminars recently, someone said, ‘Sally, I got something the other day’. ‘What was that?” I asked. She said: ‘I now realize that when you are committed you do not always enjoy what you are doing!’ ‘Brilliant!’ I said, and gave an example: I am currently training for a body sculpting competition, and am often asked why I am doing this. I always reply that it trains me to live at a high degree of integrity, and fundamentally my reason for doing it has little to do with the competition itself. Do you think that I enjoy going to the gym at 5.30 most mornings to do one or two hours training every day? Not particularly, but I do it because that is what I am committed to, and it enables me to live in integrity with my word, thereby producing the results.
In my coaching practice, I have seen that many people do not act every day in alignment with what they say they are committed to. Why not? When they are confronted, fearful or anxious, they allow themselves to live life as a consequence of these feelings – and these are default oriented feelings that keep people in the vicious cycle of not producing the results they want in their lives. This is why I stand for people to not make whatever they feel at the default level of thinking mean anything, and just stay on the court by saying to themselves:
I am fearful. OK, fear is present – so what! Don’t make it mean anything – EMBRACE THE FEELING and take the action anyway.
Fear is only a thought and has no power unless you feed it. If you feed it, you will always be stopped from having what you really want by a past- or future-based thought structure. You will either have dragged something in from the past, or gone off into the future and created a world that doesn’t even exist. Fundamentally, fear is a function of not being present. If you can learn to transcend/embrace your fear, you are well on the way to achieving what you want in your life. Remember, what you resist, persists. The answer lies in the ability to BE WITH what you feel without adding the meaning!