It's just that most of us wait until certain things happen before we finally decide to make a shift.
If we truly understood how the brain worked, I argued, we could stop the endless process of analyzing why things had happened to us, and if we could just simply change what we linked pain and pleasure to, we could just as easily change the way our nervous systems had been conditioned and take charge of our lives immediately.
As you can imagine, a young kid with no Ph.d. who was making these controversial claims on the radio didn't go over very well with some traditionally trained mental health professionals.
A few psychiatrists and psychologists attacked me, some on the air.
Why is it that most people think change takes so long? One reason, obviously, is that most people have tried again and again through willpower to make changes, and failed. The assumption that they then make is that important changes must take a long time and be very difficult to make.
In reality, it's only difficult because most of us don't know how to change! We don't have an effective strategy. Willpower by itself is not enough--not if we want to achieve lasting change.
The second reason we don't change quickly is that in our culture, we have a set of beliefs that prevents us from being able to utilize our own inherent abilities. Culturally, we link negative associations to the idea of instant change.
For most, instant change means you never really had a problem at all. If you can change that easily, why didn't you change a week ago, a month ago, a year ago, and stop complaining?
There are, in fact, cultures where people celebrate when someone dies! Why? They believe that god always knows the right time for us to leave the earth, and that death is graduation.
They also believe that if you were to grieve about someone's death, you would be indicating nothing but your own lack of understanding of life, and you would be demonstrating your own selfishness. since this person has gone on to a better place, you're feeling sorry for no one but yourself.
They link pleasure to death, and pain to grieving, so grief is not a part of their culture. I'm not saying that grief is bad or wrong. I'm just saying that we need to realize it's based upon our beliefs that pain takes a long time to recover from.
Once we effect a change, we should reinforce it immediately. Then, we have to condition our nervous systems to succeed not just once, but consistently. you wouldn't go to an aerobics class just one time and say, "Okay, now I've got a great body and I'll be healthy for life!" The same is true of your emotions and behavior.
We've got to condition ourselves for success, for love, for breaking through our fears. and through that conditioning, we can develop patterns that automatically lead us to consistent, lifelong success.
When we take control of our neuro-associations, we take control of our lives.
What are the two changes everyone wants in life? Isn't it true that we all want to change either
1) how we feel about things or
2) our behaviors?
If a person has been through a tragedy--they were abused as a child, they were raped, lost a loved one, are lacking in self-esteem--this person clearly will remain in pain until the sensations they link to themselves, these events, or situations are changed.
Likewise, if a person overeats, drinks, smokes, or takes drugs, they have a set of behaviors that must change. The only way this can happen is by linking pain to the old behavior and pleasure to a new behavior.
The second belief that you and I must have if we're going to create long-term change is that we're responsible for our own change, not anyone else. In fact, there are three specific beliefs about responsibility that a person must have if they're going to create long-term change:
1) First, we must believe, "Something must change"--not that it should change, not that it could or ought to, but that it absolutely must. so often I hear people say, "This weight should come off," "Procrastinating is a lousy habit,"
"My relationships should be better." But you know, we can "should" all over ourselves, and our life still won't change! It's only when something becomes a must that we begin the process of truly doing what's necessary to shift the quality of our lives.
2) Second, we must not only believe that things must change, but we must believe, "I must change it."
We must see ourselves as the source of the change. Otherwise, we'll always be looking for someone else to make the changes for us, and we'll always have someone else to blame when it doesn't work out. We must be the source of our change if our change is going to last.
3) Third, we have to believe, "I can change it." Without believing that it's possible for us to change, as we've already discussed in the last chapter, we stand no chance of carrying through on our desires.
Without these three core beliefs, I can assure you that any change you make stands a good chance of being only temporary.
Please don't misunderstand me--it's always smart to get a great coach (an expert, a therapist, a counselor, someone who's already produced these results for many other people) to support you in taking the proper steps to conquer your phobia or quit smoking or lose weight.
But in the end, you have to be the source of your change.
Have a nice day