The Anatomy of Change
When I started nutrition coaching, it quickly became apparent that without a foundation of self-esteem, there would be no transformation within one’s physical health habits.
So I shifted to self-esteem coaching.
When I started self-esteem coaching, it quickly became apparent that without acknowledging the whole ecosystem that makes up one’s health and happiness, there would be no transformation within said ecosystem.
So I shifted to a more holistic approach that focused on one’s health and happiness ecosystem.
When I started ecosystem coaching, it quickly became apparent that without an understanding of change, there would be no transformation in any frickin’ area of anything.
So here we are. Boiled down to the core, to the veeeerrryyyyy first step of all evolution ever, ever, ever:
The anatomy of change.
Change is the most infuriating and simultaneously, the most empowering concept. We have absolutely no control over most change, yet we also have complete control over most change. Bah! Mind-boggling! What the hell does that even mean!?
As someone who has surrendered to the truth that I will forever be a student of life, until my last deep breath on this gorgeous Earth, I wanted to know … how do we change?
Like, what’s the manual?
Gimme the play-by-play.
What are the steps I can take when I just really don’t want to change but know I need to-- or when change just seems too vague and cloudy and hairy.
Tell me what to do!
I figured you might want that playbook too.
So I broke it down to be more digestible and systematic. And then I created these little shapes and charts because shapes and charts feel a lot more conquerable than heavy, hairy words and concepts.
So here it is first, the anatomy of change in shapes and charts:
1) The Anatomy of a Perception Shift:
OK, now it gets exciting (or terrifying. But if you’re thinking ‘ah, fudge, lots of work!, use the chart to change your perception to think, ‘ah, fudge YES, I have the treasure map!):
2) So once we have mastered the shift, we start piling them on top of each other. THEN, the accumulative shifting creates… ta da…
The Anatomy of Changing a Habit:
There’s no beginning, there’s no end— there’s just a consistent cycle of willingness, observation, conviction, shift (insert life and new ‘obstacle’), willingness, observation, conviction, shift (insert life and new ‘obstacle’), until forevs. The BEAUTY of it, though, is that once you’ve changed a habit— it won’t need this cycle any more.
For instance, if one of your stinkin’ thinkin’ habits is road rage and you use this shift system to change your perception of driving, which then leads to changing your habitual rage that’s associated with driving— NOW your new habit is habitual happiness and gratitude whenever you drive. Then, this specific cycle gets wiped off your plate of ‘things I need to evolve out of in life so I am happier and healthier.’ Check, completed, on to the next.
3) Then you take thousands of these bad boys, and use them for all stinkin’ thinkin’ habits in your life… and we then have...
The Anatomy of Personal Evolution:
And there you go— CHANGE no longer has to require a tsunami of willpower, expertise, gym memberships, celery sticks and magic wands. It simply starts with a one little trapezoid at the bottom of a little pyramid.
Say that aloud— change simply starts with one little trapezoid at the bottom of a little pyramid.
Now that we’re super crystal clear on the simplicity of change, let’s define each little trapezoid. Also, so we can keep saying TRAPEZOID.
• Willingness to Observe:
Seems like an unnecessary-to-mention first step, but willingness is like creaking open the door, even just an inch, to peek inside. Without the inch of openness, you’re not seeing anything on the other side.
You can’t see the light if you refuse to open your eyes, Baby.
Many times willingness is the hardest step. We’ve all been in a bad mood—and most of us rationally know that if we just change our mind to decide to be in a good mood, we’d eventually get there. But when you’re in the thick of it, that’s an obnoxious notion—one that feels like overturning massive, misshapen boulders.
The first step to shifting is just willing to be somewhere else, to feel something else, to exist in a new way in this moment. Usually my willingness sounds like a half-hearted (on good days, a mostly-hearted) yelp out loud: “OK, this isn’t working for me. I am willing to explore new options, thanks.” I say it aloud so it feels like a more official declaration—and so the willingness gods know I am at least trying.
Tip: Say it aloud or write it out. You don’t even need to fully mean it—you just have to be brave enough to document it with words.
• Honest Observation:
It’s easier to tweak the situation if you understand what’s actually happening. Usually the best approach to changing the stinky feeling you’re experiencing is to… go in the complete opposite direction. To go even further, you can thank your stinky situation for giving you clues as to what you do not want—because in that information lies what you do want. You don’t have to get there yet, you just have to put a name to it. The trick to honest observation is the honesty part—there’s no room for victims here, because they actually don’t want to change, they just want to validate why they’re stuck in the mud. If you can’t look at your situation objectively, ask someone else to.
Continually remembering and committing to honest observation will allow you to start noticing your personal patterns. Once you know your personal patterns, you can catch your BS before it starts to stink.
Tip: If you cannot objectively observe your situation, ask a trusted friend or family member to help you.
• Conviction to Shift:
Think of conviction like a pact you’ve made with your authentic, infinitely full of potential self. The pact states, “When I am in a rut, I vow that I will ALWAYS commit to changing my perception about this stuff because I am too fab too let myself drown in the muck.’ And that’s it.
Tip: craft and write out a statement of conviction— and post it in a few places you frequent throughout the day. That way, if you’re ever losing conviction, your post-it note can be a cheerleader for you.
• Do the dang thing— Shift:
This usually requires digging into the ol’ life tool box and employing a technique that will be a catalyst for the shift. This toolbox never gets full, so if you notice that something usually (even sometimes) makes you feel really dang good—drop it in the box. Being familiar with your tools is like being a superhero—you’re pretty much unstoppable when you have immediate perception-shifters in your pocket. Since your reality is reliant on your perception, you’re basically a reality-rocking machine.
There aren’t any rules to what the tools have to look like—EXCEPT that they have to be completely positive. Intuitively you know what these tools *aren’t, but I’ll give you a hint—if it helps you to escape yourself to be something else, ultimately causing more harm that you return to, it’s not a good tool. Some examples include: alcohol, drugs, reckless activity, food sometimes, social media sometimes, television sometimes. You get it.
Some super cool, usually free tools that I use on the reg are: sunset and sunrise viewing, moving my bod, saying a prayer, listening to a motivational audio, reading an inspirational book, dancing like a wild woman, loving people, doing something crafty, feeding myself a nourishing meal, laughing.
Tip: Start a gratitude/happiness notebook. Throughout the day, when something has filled you with that magical sense of ‘holy crap, I love this’, add it to the list. When in need, refer to the list and mimic the action to get back to that state.
Yes, phew, that was a lot of work for changing just one thought. I’ve got exciting news, though—the more you practice this, the more it becomes muscle memory. Once it becomes muscle memory, you get to stack these shifts on top of one another—and create a freaking work of art.
THEN THERE’S MORE: Now you have numerous, new habits—really beautiful, positive ones that don’t leave any residue garbage in your path because they’ve all been tended to by your cleanest, sharpest, most effective tools.
Everything we need to know is already within, Baby. See you out there, Champs.