Addiction to Change

Why we keep trying to change things

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Most people I meet tell me that they would love to change something. It's usually something outside of themselves that they want to change... a job, relationship, business results, lifestyle, where they live etc. "If I could just change this one thing.... then everything else will fall into alignment." That's the typical belief that runs clients (and I of course fall prey to this one too!)

We have this tendency to focus on rearranging things on the outside instead of focussing internally on the feeling that we're experiencing. We avoid experiencing our emotions (particularly when they're not the happy ones) and we get caught in this cycle of outside-in doing and living.

My family and I have been travelling from Calgary to Vancouver Island this summer and it's been one of those trips that forces you to look very starkly at yourself. We don't have all the creature comforts with us and we are way outside our comfort zone, sharing one hotel room and being together 24/7.

It's given me the opportunity to really look at this outside-in idea. There's so much to experience, and the aspects that we remember are the adventures along the way. We talk about them at night over dinner. We play cards and read and life is really much simpler because it has to be. We don't have all the options that we normally have.

As the experiences show up where I don't like the feeling that I'm feeling e.g. the times when I've lost my temper and ranted about something, I notice my tendency to want to change the feeling with something. I grab a thought like, "If only I'd planned this trip differently" or "The problem here is I've organised it wrong and I need to change this." I look to try and fix what's going on. Yet I can't. The trip is all planned and I just have to be with what shows up. If the kids don't like it then they've got to work that through and so have I. If I'm frustrated I have to work that one through. Nothing on the outside will change the energy of what I'm feeling. What does is a little humility, compassion and self love.

I see in my life and in others that its so easy to chase change and material things. Better house, more money, new car etc. Inadvertently we think that these things will make us feel better, more worthy or something similar. I met an incredible 77 year old grandmother at Harrison Hot Springs. A widow of 3 years who was still grieving the loss of her husband. She has thrown herself into life and is taking on massive adventures including taking her 4 grandchildren and girlfriend on holiday with her. She was telling me how the death of her husband had really taught her to experience life. She said, "I look around my house and I look at these things everywhere. I remember how desperately I wanted some of those things. What I realise now is that they mean nothing to me. I could walk away from every single one of them."

She described how some days she just feels really sad and so she allows herself the day to stay under the duvet and it passes. Then she throws herself back into the centre of her life and experiences it to the full, knowing fully that it is short and sweet.

If you, like me find yourself focussing on outside in sometimes and feel like you're constantly rearranging stuff... STOP. Slow down and ask yourself this one question, "What am I experiencing right now? What's the feeling that's driving this?" Then just feel it. You can always come back to the thing you think you need to change later and ask yourself, "For the sake of what... what will this change or thing really give me?" The answer should lie somewhere in your values. If the change honours a value then go for it. If it's a distraction, lovingly let it go.

Vanessa Anstee

Life Coach

I'm inspired by who you can be without apology and I want to help you let your real self shine. I've been a life coach for 10 years. I've always been a seeker trying to discover a way of being in life that feels soulful, authentic and aligned to what my heart wants not what my head thinks I should have, be or do. I spent 20+ year career in HR, OD, talent management and executive coaching. My kids were my biggest wake up. I saw the way I was working wasn't working anymore. I couldn't keep pushing myself harder. I had to accept I couldn't attain this perfected version of myself that I had strived most of my life to achieve. I had to find love not from accolades and other people's acceptance but from deep inside me. That's when I learnt to connect to my heart, heal my childhood wounds and fears of never being enough and set light to my passion in a completely new way. I want one thing for my clients. Be real. Be themselves, fall madly in love with that person and honour their soul's calling.


Go to the profile of Charles Thiede
about 8 years ago
Vanessa, this is a great post and thanks. I also see that focusing too much on the external can take you backwards. But it does seem hard not to. Having a purpose and knowing that purpose means something (at least to me and my friends, family and co-workers) helps me keep on the right line.