The models we have about the world might seem unimportant, but they are extremely significant. Like a singing instructor once told me, if you have the wrong picture of how your diaphragm works, and you for example compress your belly and tense up when breathing in, trying to press air into your lungs – it’s not going to work. Likewise with matters of personal and behavioural change, once we adopt a working model that supports us in change, we already have made a big step towards lasting and satisfying progress.
Now when working with yourself you have to be aware of one thing. I like to view the human as an ecosystem, like a pond for example. I look at the water and how clear it is, and then I think about why it is so clear, or murky. Is there an imbalance in the pond? Too many fish? Is there some source of waste close by or some other pollutant that is harming the ecosystem. I think about what factors contribute to the water getting murky and thus a bad habitat, and about what factors are contributing to clearing the water and making it a good environment for life to blossom. I think about all the little plants and organisms that filter the water, that filter out the dirt and
So when you are working on yourself and changing your behaviour you have to think of yourself like a pond, like a little ecosystem. Your emotional states, your productivity, your health and general enjoyment of life are the water quality, it is how clear the water is. All the little influences that are either damaging and polluting you, are the thoughts, beliefs, habits, paradigms and actions that are harmful to you. Likewise all the positive factors are contributing to making the ecosystem of you more healthy, effective and happy.
You can imagine helpful information and our coaching as a collection of little plants and organisms, that you, as a diligent gardener, are planting in your own pond. You are both the ecosystem and the gardener. Aren’t you lucky? Consider this fact. The fact that we as humans are able to self-reflect and adapt, and actually improve the quality of our life. Do you feel grateful for that freedom? Nobody said that it is easy, but it’s worth it.
So as a diligent gardener you take whatever plants and organisms you like, the ones you think will do the job for clearing your pond, and you plant them. You are very careful and you are also careful that the fish don’t immediately eat away at them. Maybe you put them in a part of your pond where there’s not too much water movement – so they can multiply and grow strong, until then you can put them to the main area of your pond and they can get to work purifying the water.
In the many years I have been working on changing and optimising my own behaviour, I have experienced many fulfilling and liberating, yet also many frustrating and overwhelming things. One thing which can really hamper your progress, I want to swiftly address here:
As in the parable with the pond, you are currently at a certain „set-point“. The state you are in emotionally and behaviourally has a certain momentum. Now when you are starting the process of change, if you do it whole-heartedly and put in real effort, the process is starting to work right away. Yet as your current situation has a certain momentum, you might not immediately notice a change. Like in the pond, where the plants and organisms start cleaning the water right away, it takes time – depending on how clean or murky the water is in the first place. So you might be working with the techniques to increase your „grounding“, confidence and feeling comfortable and strong with yourself, you might be doing some exercises in the morning and for a few minutes or half an hour you feel really strong and confident. Then something happens, some trigger, or a memory surfaces and you feel even worse than before. Why is that? Is the technique not working?
Going back to the pond we can observe that the little organisms and plants have begun to clean the water. Now as you know from when you mix some solid material (like cacao powder with milk) – there is a saturation point. Beyond that point the liquid cannot take up any more powder. It is likewise with the water in the pond and also with you. Once the water gets cleaned, some reservoir of dirt hidden deep within the pond might start to get dissolved into the water, and you look and see: „Oh! Where is all this dirt coming from. I thought the water would get cleaner, not dirtier…“
It is important to not get discouraged by this. All the things that are coming up from your subconscious and the storehouse of your past conditioning are with you when you are aware of them and when you are not aware of them. Simply not being aware of them or having a base level of stress where there is simply no capacity for your body to show you these things is not a real solution as you can imagine. So it is helpful to view these things showing up as what they really are – signs of progress. Furthermore it is a good sign of your self-awareness increasing, which is one of the most important skills for creating change in your life. Consider this: What if these things have been with you all along, only now you have started noticing them?
So the process of change is gradual. With these tools and your constant application of positive, constructive thought, you are setting a contrast to your old programming. A programming that might have been less satisfying and productive, prompting you to read articles this one and investing time and energy in developing yourself and clearing the waters of your muddy past conditioning. I have great respect for you and for what you are doing, because I know it is in no way easy. On many days it can feel as though one is regressing, rather than progressing and people around who are enjoying short-lived pleasures and entertainment, distracting themselves from their problems rather than facing them – seem to have it easier. Again, it’s not easy to change and to keep striving, but it’s totally worth it. The more you keep at it the more you will enjoy steering your life in a worthwhile and positive direction – and the easier and more second nature these positive habits, paradigms and thoughts are going to feel to you.