In this article: It’s never too late to start over – You have the whole world in the palm of your hands.
There may come many times in your life when you will feel like starting over. Maybe you just got divorced, or a relationship fell apart or you lost a job. Or you’re going through life changes that offer the opportunity for transformation, such as the purchase of a new house or a career move or moving across country. Perhaps you are going to start college or university?
Maybe you’ve figured out you are not straight but gay? Perhaps you have realized that you attract unhealthy relationships into your life and you need to make changes within yourself?
Maybe you feel stuck, stagnant, and know you want to change, but have no idea how to do that or even what it will look like when you get there.
Life throws us curve balls, or opportunities, depending on how you see it, and sometimes nothing short of a total overhaul of your life, is called for.
When things fall apart, as they inevitably will at some point, you can decide how you want to look at it. You can see it as a total disaster, or, you can look at lessons to be learned and be willing to grow from the experience.
You may need to make changes, not only to your material world, but also to your inner world, and possibly to your spiritual world.
You can start over, make changes big or small, people do it all the time, why can’t you!
Here are some strategies to help you in making changes.
Making Changes In Your Life
Do you know what you want to change? What needs to change? Maybe you have no idea where to begin; you just know that something doesn’t feel right. Do you feel like you have been banging your head against a brick wall for weeks, months, or even years?
Banging your head against a brick wall won’t help you get what you want. Do you even have a clue what it is that you do want? Perhaps you only know what you don’t want.
To help you identify what it is that you do want, your goals and the areas where you would most like to make some changes, ask yourself these questions.
- If you were to wake up in the morning, and, unbeknownst to you, a miracle had happened in the night so that all your problems were solved, what would be the first thing that you noticed that was different, that told you a miracle had happened?
- What else would be different? And what else?
Keep questioning yourself in this way until you have built up a complete picture of what your ideal, “miracle” world looks like.
This can give you a very clear idea of where you can start to make changes.
Life Balance Wheel
Another way to help you get some perspective on where your life can change for the better is to draw a life balance wheel for yourself. Follow these steps.
- Draw a circle and divide it up into eight segments
- Label each section as follows:
- If you feel totally happy in one area then color it in completely. If you feel utterly discontent in one segment, leave it totally blank. Color each section with different color, according to how content you are with that category. So if you are only 50% content, only color from the center to half way towards the outside of the wheel. If you are 80% content, color 8/10 of the segment from the center towards the outer edge. And so on . . .
- When you have completed the exercise, look at the shape of your wheel. A well-rounded, complete life will show as a well-rounded, color-filled wheel. A bumpy wheel on the other hand, depicts a bumpy life. Where is your life bumpy? Where are the deficits? The wheel should give you a clear idea of where you need to take action.
In order to make changes, you need to take action. It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Yet you’d be surprised at how many people spend their lives in daydreams and unfulfilled wishes, with various factors getting in the way of them moving out of this stage.
You are in control! You can make changes! but, it takes action and a deliberate effort.
Perhaps you feel you are not good enough, or you feel you don’t deserve it, or you are not worthy?
Limiting beliefs can really hold you back and keep you stuck in the same old patterns that don’t get you the results you desire. We will look at limiting beliefs later, and how you can shift things on the subconscious, inner levels.
What action should you take first?
Prioritize Your List
The very first step you can take is to prioritize your list of changes that you wish to take. Identify your biggest priority. Looking at your life balance wheel, you might see the one segment that is blank or barely colored in to be your biggest priority.
One Small Step At A Time
Then you can break your goal down into chunks: small, manageable, doable steps.
What is the first small step you can take towards achieving your goal? Make sure it is a small, doable step. Then, make sure you do it!
Then you can feel pleased with yourself: You are making change happen! Then, take another small step. And then another.
As you probably know, the journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step. You have to take that first step, and then the momentum can build.
Keeping that momentum going can be hard, and it is often wise to get as much support as you can.
Remember: It’s OK to ask for help!
You don’t have to be a heroic superhuman. No person is an island, and asking for help gives someone else the opportunity to contribute. When you open yourself to receive the gift of help, you are giving the other person a gift: The gift of giving.
You may consider asking a friend to be a support buddy: You agree to meet once a week, whether in person, on the phone or via video cam, and you keep each other accountable. You check in with them and see if they are on track with their goals, and they in turn will do the same for you.
You can ask each other questions, such as:
“Have you accomplished your goals? Are you on target? If not, what is holding you back? What can you do to change that, so you make better progress next week?”
Other ways to get help are to reach out to friends and family, don’t stay stuck in isolation: Isolation is a clue that you are withdrawing into your shell and losing momentum and stagnating. Do whatever you need to do to get connected to others.
If you find you have a hard time doing any of the above, you may consider getting help from a professional therapist.
Keep A Diary
Keeping a diary or journal can help you keep track of the changes you have made over time, with dates to help you see how far you have come. When you look back over your journal entries, it can boost your morale by giving you some perspective on how far you have come.
You decide how often you reward yourself, or when. Consider, which goal most deserves a reward, then, when you reach it, make sure you go through with gifting yourself the reward. Don’t skimp on this part, it’s a great motivator!
The Inner Work
Often, what stops you from making changes on the outside, are the inner demons of self-sabotage and low self-esteem. So many of us believe that we are not good enough: Not tall enough, not slim enough, not pretty enough, not fit enough, not smart enough, not talented enough, just not enough!
When you let these thoughts run the show, you hold yourself back from living life to the full. These limiting beliefs keep you stuck in a negative pattern that keeps sabotaging your best efforts to make changes. Here are some ways to get yourself unstuck.
Practice Loving Kindness
Loving kindness begins with you. If you keep beating yourself up, or giving yourself a hard time, you are not going to allow yourself to make positive changes. At some level, you don’t believe you deserve it.
As clinician Ella Morelle will tell you, your inner “children” are acting up and running the show. “They are hurting and what they really want is your attention and your love,” explains Morelle. “Every time you feel uncomfortable, stressed, unhappy, irritable, angry or any other negative emotion or sense of discomfort, turn your loving kindness inwards and view with compassion the emotion or sensation which is causing you grief. Pretty soon, if you give it some space, along with some kindness and love, it will disappear, or lessen.”
Loving Kindness Meditation
Loving kindness meditation is also known as Metta meditation. Metta meditation is a Buddhist meditation, but you do not have to be a Buddhist to practice it. It is a kind of meditation technique which develops the capacity for feeling warmth, compassion and goodwill, firstly towards yourself, and then towards others. It can be used by anyone, regardless of spiritual or religious affiliations.
First, you learn how to break down the barriers to loving yourself, through softening and soothing the attitude of the mind. When you have developed greater love and compassion towards yourself, then you have something to offer outwards to others in the world. This is a practice of unconditional, pure love. It is not attached to outcomes, does not seek to possess another, and does not depend on what other people think of us.
The essence of this meditation is like this:
“May I be well,
May I be happy,
May all things be well with me.”
Then you say it for someone you feel neutral about, then for someone you love, then for someone for whom you feel dislike or other negative emotions.
After that, you radiate loving kindness out towards all beings. Then you can radiate loving kindness out to the whole planet and even to the whole universe.
Affirmations are positive, present tense statements using the first person, or “I,” that you can say repeatedly. They help to establish new neural pathways in the brain. A great one to use to help you improve yourself esteem is: “I am great! I am a master!”
This affirmation can help you excel in anything! The jazz pianist Kenny Werner used it to help him in his musical aspirations. He said it helped in so many other areas of his life, too. (Read his book, “Effortless Mastery”). When you feel great, like a master, you start to act great, like a master. Then other people notice you hold yourself taller, and they start to treat you with more respect. And so on.
Inner Smile Meditation
Another wonderful way to develop self-love and self-worth is through the practice of the Inner Smile Meditation.
The inner smile meditation is an ancient Taoist technique that changes how you feel about yourself after just a few minutes.
Use it any time you are feeling stressed and it rapidly brings you to a place of peace, calm, and joy! Mantak Chia is a Taoist master who teaches this technique. Here is a short version to get you started:
- Imagine a benevolent being smiling at you.
- See the energy of their smiling eyes penetrate your own eyes. Instantly feel yourself start to relax. Lift the corners of your mouth up slightly and feel your own smile.
- Allow the smiling energy (you can picture it as a golden color) to penetrate the brain. Feel the brain absorbing this wonderful tranquil, nourishing energy.
- Send the inner smile down to the heart. According to Mantak Chia, the heart is the only organ that can generate Love. Imagine the heart generating a lot of pink, Love energy.
- Send this to the other internal organs, one by one: the stomach, spleen, and pancreas; the lungs and large intestines; the liver and gall bladder; the kidneys and bladder. (Picture them as best you can; better yet, look at an anatomy book and learn about them).
- Eventually, radiate this Love energy through all the cells in your body, and into the atmosphere around you. You can send it out to all the people on earth and to the planet itself.
- Finally draw that energy back in and condense it into the point below your navel, and the center of your power, the Tan Tien.
Notice how you feel. A bit different from before you started? An increase in feelings of happiness? This is because, as Master Mantak Chia himself states, “Love heals.”
Changing Negative Thought Patterns
This is an important tool to overcoming self-sabotage. Without weeding out some of the more persistent core beliefs, it is hard to move on and move forward, and live a life of happiness and contentment.
We tend to stay stuck in the same subconscious patterns. Once we learn how to change our negative beliefs, however, it can have massive and far reaching positive repercussions on our lives. It is a good idea to find a skilled therapist to help you do this, preferably one who uses a body-centered approach, as previous traumas become stuck and show up either as physical symptoms from muscular tension to headaches, bowel dysfunction and nervous tics, or as mental and emotional symptoms such as depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.
Counsellor and psychotherapist Morelle continues, “It is possible to discover and release very early childhood wounds with this process. Once we recognize that old coping mechanisms no longer serve us, we can instruct the subconscious mind to let go of old belief patterns, and replace those with newer, more empowering and healthful ones. This can have a very beneficial effect on our overall health and well-being.”
Olympic athletes and highly successful business people use visualization techniques to help them achieve and exceed their goals and expectations. Visualization is the art of picturing, in vivid detail, the successful outcome of your goal.
By using your imagination to “see” in great detail the outcome you’re looking for, you begin to create new neural pathways in the brain, that cause you to behave in a certain way, according to the images you have been reinforcing. There is plenty of neuroscientific evidence nowadays to back up the validity of visualization.
Imagine your ideal outcomes in as much detail as you can, including colors, sounds and sensations, feelings, emotions and so on. Especially try to experience as fully as possible the feeling state of the outcome. Practice several times for a few minutes, daily.
Be Open To Opportunities
Wealthy entrepreneur Richard Branson is successful because he has a knack for seeing opportunities. Not only does he notice opportunities when they arise, but he is then ready to act on them in the moment. He “strikes while the iron is hot” and is not afraid to take risks.
A wilderness survival technique is to use a soft visual focus, known as “owl eyes “in some outdoor survival circles, it is the ability to scan with a wide open, slightly unfocussed view, keeping the peripheral vision in awareness.
Our Western tendency is to focus on a narrow, single point. In this way, our eyes become hardened and stressed.
We miss out on a lot of information in this way. A lot of solutions present themselves to us when we keep a soft, “wide-angled” vision. It helps us relax, yet stay alert, and open to opportunities. Solutions come to you effortlessly when you employ this technique. Try it and see for yourself.
Act As If
“Fake it till you make it” is a way to hasten the manifestation of your goals. If you act confidently, people will respond to you as if you are confident, and will treat you accordingly with respect and admiration.
Remember what happens when you stay small? Do people even notice you? Chances are you are getting what you want: to be hidden and stay invisible.
This probably served you well for some good reason as a small child, but now you need to develop different and more productive strategies. Staying small no longer serves you. Act as if you are confident, wealthy, and successful and the world will treat you in kind.
The art of gratitude is a miraculous practice that will open doors in ways you never thought possible. To start, at the end of each day, write down 10 things you are grateful for. This will increase your sense of gratitude. Be sure to languish in the feeling of gratitude. The more you can experience the feeling of being thankful, the more gratitude will work wonders in your life. When you start to really experience the feeling of gratitude, you start to feel happy.
Feeling truly happy is a great blessing and a true sign of success. (What’s the point of having lots of money and status if you are miserable? Cultivate happiness no matter where you are at in your life.) Make a habit of giving thanks for successful outcomes, even before they have happened.
When you have the inner conviction that things have already turned out well for you, you radiate an energy of competence and calm and positivity; this attracts to you the very forces that lead you to your successful outcome.
Cultivating gratitude puts you into one of the highest emotional states you can experience. It will bring you feelings of real joy, abundance, and contentment, no matter how much or how little you have in terms of material belongings. Once you have the feeling of gratitude, you then naturally attract more to be grateful about. It truly is a most amazing practice.
Believe In Yourself
Having a deep inner conviction in your own abilities is one of the best ways you can feel good about yourself. Change your negative thoughts so that you can believe more strongly in yourself.
You will be able to accomplish more than you would have dreamed of before you learned to love yourself. When you believe you can, then you probably can! It is when you believe you can’t that you really limit yourself and hamper the accomplishment of your desires.
It is very important in terms of your health and well-being that you try to maintain a balance; a balance between work and play, fun and seriousness, solitude and community, down time and up time, and so on. Too much of a good thing becomes problematic.
Make a list of all your “good” and “bad” qualities, notice where you excel, and give yourself credit for that. Notice where you lack discipline, motivation, or desire, and commit to changing your negative beliefs around those areas, and then taking action to implement change. For instance, perhaps you hate mornings.
You find getting out of bed so difficult that when you finally do, you discover you are running late for work. This then colors your whole day with a negative slant. You want to change this behavior. What is your belief? Maybe you have a core belief that “The world is against me,” or “Life is hard.” Whatever it is, it is critical to your success that you transform this into a positive statement such as, “The world is my oyster,” or “Every day brings me untold joy and happiness.” Once you can start to feel the happiness inherent in the new belief, you can then take actions to change your old, unhelpful habit.
Set your alarm 20 minutes earlier. Start your day with a short meditation or visualization. Do five minutes of stretching and then give thanks for as many things as you can think of. Notice how your day unfolds differently because of these new actions.
No matter where you want to make changes in your life, with commitment, dedication, and practice, it can be done.
Remember the affirmation “I am great; I am a master!” and make it your daily mantra in all that you do.
Identify your goals, prioritize them, and then, take action! One small step at a time brings you the results you want.
Change your thoughts from negative to positive and practice feeling the emotions and the felt senses of the positive outcome you long for. If you long for weight loss, imagine how great you will feel, how light and energized, how strong and fit and youthful.
Imagine how people will react to you differently and how you attract compliments and admiring glances. Imagine it as though it has already happened. Your visualizations and affirmations will create new neural pathways in the brain, causing a chain reaction of different habitual responses, which will lead to you getting the results you are looking for.
The bottom line in all of this is the art of learning to love yourself.
Practice ardently to be gentle and kind to yourself.
Love yourself unconditionally.
Build a new relationship with yourself based on compassion and loving kindness.
Above all, forgive yourself.
All the other changes you long for stand a much greater chance of materializing when you learn to love yourself first. The more you love yourself, the more you will love your life, and the more love you will have to share with others too.
The more you love yourself, the more you will allow yourself to receive the wonderful gifts life has to offer, just because you know you are worth it.
By making changes in both the inner and the outer worlds, you will be more likely to be satisfied and content in your new life, and more likely to create permanent, lasting change.
Now, go make those changes!