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When or How Do You Know It’s You Who Needs to Change
By Joyce Shafer
Are you able to be aware of when you need to change or adjust something about yourself? Or is it easier or more comfortable to think others and life are the ones that need to change?
One of the ways I know I need to change is when I find myself thinking thoughts in a certain way for an extended time, or I think pretty much the same types of thoughts over and over, but none of this thought activity moves me forward or causes me to feel the way I desire to. This is especially true when it involves another person's behaviors that I feel a challenge, contrast, or conflict with, and wish they'd change so I could feel better. What about you? What do you do that leads you to see the most obvious and first change to make is in you?
One of the first things we could, should, or would change is our thoughts; and fortunately for us, since we're the only ones who have them, we can address them. That random thoughts will happen spontaneously is a given. Trying to control or stop this fact is a waste of time. But you can transmute thoughts, that is redirect them, once they happen, which takes practice. However, it's important that you distinguish between thought contemplation based in a genuine desire to solve, resolve, or improve and negatively dwelling on or harping on a matter, the latter being a thought activity that will never get you to where you want to be: peaceful, no matter what.
You're going to interact with, or live with, people whose behaviors could be improved; and others will feel the same about you. When someone's behavior triggers you out of your serenity and joy, your quickest way back to those feelings is to change something in or about you, starting with your attitude, mindset, or perspective, and followed by constructive or productive words and/or actions, or even appropriate silence and inaction at times.
You could say a good goal is to stay in peace and in trust in the Universe (though, this is more than a mere goal, it's a desirable way to be); but the words "stay in" puts you on the spot: Who can stay in that mindset all the time? However, as I said a moment ago about thoughts, you can transmute and redirect negative energies that surface in you, which will take practice. And this is a worthy practice because your peace and trust in the Universe are the fastest pathways for the Universe to rebalance what you perceive as having gone off-center in you and your life, in accordance with how Law of Attraction is designed to work, and does.
It's not always necessarily a simple matter to return to peace and trust once triggered by someone or an event, but it is doable. What is also doable is to practice peace and trust in the Universe before you're triggered. It's like that old saying, "A stitch in time saves nine." If you practice on smaller annoyances, you begin to fine-tune yourself for if or when larger ones come along. None of this means you deny, suppress, or never share what you feel; it's about what you do with and about your emotions that surface as a result of your feelings, and your beliefs.
When you think about seeking or having peace, you may think of a quiet place like an isolated beach or an ashram, or a walk in nature, or eliminating every annoying person or matter from your life. However, there are other ways to seek and create peace that we may not as readily think about: assessing and modifying some of our behaviors. Here are some general behaviors some may want to look at:
- Any of your behaviors that consistently trigger or annoy someone or a number of others in a not-good way.
- What you say and/or do in a consistent manner that doesn't cause you to feel good or better about yourself, others, and any aspect of your life or life in general.
- You're always, nearly always, or far too often for your own good, in a negative mood or mindset.
- You consider yourself superior to all or certain others, which always results in your mistreatment of them, and their subsequent mistreatment of you.
- You expect and wait for anyone or anything to change, to please your ego-based needs and desires, before you feel good or happy. Note: I'm addressing ego-based needs here, not realistic or practical needs, or behavior anomalies that require real internal or external adjustment for the well-being of those involved.
- You consistently practice negative levels of gossip or complaining (which is not the same as productive venting to an appropriate listener).
- You're free with criticism and opinions, whether or not you're asked for these, and deliver them in ways that are non-supportive and don't encourage the understanding, illumination, or improvement you desire.
- You get angry fast and often, and "go in with gloves on" rather than pick your battles, and pick a more appropriate time to address them.
- You practice payback or revenge.
- You practice unusual, non-productive, or harmful levels of self-condemnation.
- You base your self-worth on anyone or anything external to you, and forget or ignore that you are an expression of the Universe.
- You believe you have to do everything about or in your life, and don't include the Universe as your partner.
What you see in the above list are behaviors or practices that, if we changed or adjusted enough to not do them or not do them the same way or as often as we do, we would experience more peace. There are two ways to seek peace: where you receive (like sitting on a quiet beach or having a serene hour alone or getting a massage) and where you give yourself and others a more pleasant, peaceful experience by modifying your own behaviors that don't serve you (or them) in a good way. These are changes you can assess the need for then follow through on with practice.
We all deal with the need or necessity of change differently, especially when it's a change in us that's needed. Here are some very generalized descriptions of how five behavior types may approach a need for change.
- Aggressive types will use coercion, force, verbal abuse, and/or physical abuse against others. But, they won't necessarily recognize their aggressions as such; or if they do recognize them, they may decide they are justified. They may think this is the way to get things done the way they want them to be done: the end justifies the means. They believe little to nothing needs to change about them.
- Passive-Aggressive types will resist doing what they need to do or what others need or ask them to do, especially if the request is demanding or authoritative. They may toss out "zinger" statements to make someone feel guilty because they are uncomfortable speaking their truth in a better way. They believe guilt will show (or force) others the errors of their ways; and they'll mope and sulk until the change they desire is obvious and consistent. They control others, or attempt to, by making them feel at fault for how unhappy they feel.
- Passive types will fold their energy up like a telescope, and offer no resistance. They suppress the bad feelings they have, but they have them in spades. Passivity, though, lasts for only so long before the person opts for another behavior to release the pressure that's built up. This is because they are not actually easy-going (a very different mindset), but one of the other types above in disguise.
- Assertive types look for ways to collaborate or compromise. They speak out and they listen to what others have to say. They're ready to take needed action, and take it. As long as they don't cross over into aggressive behaviors, they stay in the "assertive" zone. They do what they can to accomplish what they set out to do, and often feel confident about decision-making. They tend to encourage, guide, or mentor others.
- Spiritual types observe what's going on. They ask themselves and/or the Universe for right questions then seek and ask right questions of others. They ask and trust the Universe to show others, as well as themselves, adjustments that need to be or could be made, rather than charging into battle about matters. Their mantra for more complicated circumstances (and life) is, "I may not know how or when this will be taken care of, but I know the Universe is working on it." They pay attention to signals from the Universe about how and when they should take certain actions. They mostly stay in, or return to, peace and trust more easily, based on experience and lots of practice. They tend to be more easy-going than other types because of this.
The first three types above are examples of unskillful behaviors, which can be transmuted into skillful ones with guidance and practice. And all five types have "shades," as well as "flavors" of skilled and unskilled aspects. Also, under certain circumstances, any of us might display behaviors from the five types: we may desire to be skillful at all times, but find this isn't always the case. But with practice, we can always improve our ratio of skillful-to-unskillful behaviors.
When we don't observe our own behaviors through the appropriate lens, we miss opportunities to choose ways to have and be the feelings we desire most. Look back at the list of behaviors to consider, and perhaps add your own. Look back at the five behavior types and see which one is your current predominant style and which one you'd prefer to be your predominant style. Be honest, and kind, with yourself as you do this. Always aim at making choices that keep you in integrity and encourage you to do your best and feel your best in any given moment, even if you slip or trip up first. It's a good practice, one you'll appreciate.
Practice makes progress.
Joyce Shafer is a Life Empowerment Coach dedicated to helping people feel, be, and live their true inner power. She’s author of “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru” and other books/ebooks, and publishes a free weekly online newsletter that offers empowering articles and free downloads. See all that’s offered by Joyce and on her site at State of Appreciation.