The following post has been written by Marta Gaczynska based on the original content of Sophie Sabbage’s Lecture on ‘How to Make Changes that Last’, which took place at A Day on Behaviour Change in January 2020. Marta was the winner of our prize for the best blog of the month!
Have you ever felt like you were not good enough? Not smart enough? Not strong enough? That you need to keep going no matter what? You are not alone. So many of us have been there. In the world promising us instant solutions to all (usually artificial) deficiencies it outlines to us, in the social media era where we try to sell the best versions of ourselves and our lives, where you need to go faster, earn more, achieve what’s never been achieved, be successful in your relationships, work and family life, it is very common.
We live in a pursuit of external validation as if it could somehow make us whole. We’ve made our inner selves not matter.
The solution to our problems and negative emotions is not outside, it’s within. That’s one of the most powerful lessons from Sophie Sabbage’s lecture on “How to Make Changes That Last”, from the Weekend University’s Day on Behaviour Change. So many people want to change, transform themselves nowadays but do they stop and think about their motivation (Simon Sinek’s “Start with WHY” comes to mind)? What is your motive for action?
According to Sophie, there are two states of being: reactive or ‘in the box’ thinking and responsive “outside of the box” thinking. Our default state of consciousness is “in the box”, i.e. in one of four motives for action or wanting a change:
- Impossibility tells you that you can’t cope, handle things, make things work, so you may as well give up, not care, walk away, keep your head down or avoid it. It puts you in a state of despair or hopelessness, bitterness and self-pity.
- Survival makes you numb, task focused and always busy. It’s a state where you think you have to get by, struggle on, make the best of, fit in, try really hard, be strong or else it will look bad, you will be humiliated, rejected, be a failure. This causes anxiety, frustration, anger and stress but you keep going.
- Obligation is when you tell yourself that you should conform, do your duty, be professional, be perfect, please others and hold the highest standards or else you will let people down, be unpopular, not a good person, disappoint and be rejected as someone who is worthless and unlovable. This makes you cold, tired, tight, passive aggressive, resentful, either martyr or superior.
- Proving is when you desire to do more, get more, excel, stand out, be the best, prove how awesome you are, be admired and special or else you will be found out, exposed, not good enough, meaningless. You will get the adrenaline, the buzz and excitement but you will push hard, burn out. The very temporary satisfaction will be your quick fix, but the second it passes you will move to a new goal because nothing is ever enough. You attach your self-worth to being successful in the eyes of the others.
But there’s the one state we can choose to be in, but we need to make the conscious effort to get out of the box.
It is Creating.
You know who you are, and you know who you are not. You know your strengths and weaknesses. You choose to trust, take risks, be bold, be vulnerable, learn, discover, develop, take a stand, innovate, embrace failure because you are ok, lovable, worthy, enough, imperfect, present, human, humble and powerful, flexible and evolving.
This state makes you feel alive, accepting, confident, authentic and connected.
The box can be very comfortable, and people stay in it for years, and some even for a lifetime. It’s familiar, comfortable, and feels safe and stable.
However, if you venture outside of the box, you remove the false limitations and accept the real ones. You will be comfortable to fail, and you will learn from it because it is a part of the human experience.
You will fall and rise again, and it is ok because you will evolve and learn.
Let go of the expectations, challenge your limitations and accept that life will give you Lifeshocks.
They are external perception shattering events that are unexpected and unwanted.
You get them almost every day, but, every now and then, some will hit you hard. You can hide away in the box or you can just consider them as a part of being human; something that will develop you.
Think of Lifeshocks not as something good or bad but something that is, something that can lead you to a better understanding of who you really are.
True power lies in surrendering control, the willingness to embrace vulnerability and failure as part of the process of developing self.
It’s ok to screw up, it’s ok to make mistakes.
We all do amazing things and we all fail. The question is what choices we make and why we make them.
Do you still want to change?
Sometimes what we really need to change is the belief that we need to change, never accepting that we are perfect with your own imperfections.
By accepting Lifeshocks, shifting perception and accepting the true power of letting go of the box, the true transformational power of vulnerability, you can open yourself to so much more.
You can Shine on, as your true self.
This content in this blog is copyrighted (© John Hoover, K. Bradford Brown, Sophie Sabbage 1996).. You are free to use these insights in your own life, but this material is not to be sold, shared, distributed or used in any professional capacity. If you want to learn more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.