The Conscious Process of Positive Change: Part 1

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Life does not stand still. No matter how we try to stop it, change occurs and time carries life forward like the steady flow of a river.

So even without our conscious effort, change happens.

But there are many times when we want that change to take a certain direction; we’d like a particular outcome. Running is a great example. Without conscious effort, running can often degrade into injury. The 65% injury rate is a testament to that.

And, with conscious attention, it doesn’t have to be that way. You most certainly can learn to run or walk or eat or talk or listen in a way that does not degrade your quality of life, but in a way that increases the potential for enjoyment, for feeling healthy, for expressing yourself in a positive way, for feeling deeply nourished physically and in your relationships.

Consciousness or mindfulness is the key. And there is a natural 5-step process that happens when we create mindful banks to the flow of life.

Hydration is another good example. Most people are dehydrated much of the time. We stop in our daily life, so little, to preemptively listen to our bodies needs. Since we don’t stop and listen, we don’t hear the early signs of being thirsty (or of the need to move, or the need to be listened to). Hence, we have to be told, from a magazine, to drink 8 glasses of water a day and we need to remind ourselves to drink and we put up sticky notes on our fridge or computer: “drink water” “look up to prevent eye strain” “take a stretch break every 45 minutes”.

If you just stopped and spent 1-3  minutes listening to your physical/emotional self, your body would tell you all you need to know. I meditate enough to know that often the first thing I’ll feel when I start is that I’m quietly thirsty. So, after many times of this experience, I drink water before I meditate.

Hydrating or moving or looking up from our computers occurs more naturally when we are not distracting ourselves from listening to our physical/emotional body. The news, work, email, and social media on our computers are huge distraction from listening to ourselves. Our to do list, TV, and many other activities are distractions that we fall prey to.

That is really at the heart of it. Listening consciously to our physical/emotional self is either too boring or too painful or we simply have no idea why or how to do it. So we avoid it. We haven’t learned the value of deeply, intently listening to our physical, emotional, feeling self.

The conscious process of healthy, positive change has 5 specific steps. When these 5 steps are each given the time and attention they need, positive transformation is inevitable.

The five steps are:
  1. Awareness
  2. Acceptance
  3. Understanding
  4. Resolution
  5. Action

Much of the time we jump from a less than fully realized awareness, like thirst, and we jump to action: drink something, maybe something sugary or carbonated or caffeine laden. After 6pm a glass of wine may feel like the fulfillment of many needs. There is nothing wrong with that…but…

…the truth is we often don’t give awareness the time it needs to fill out the picture. We skim over awareness, avoid acceptance and replace it with guilt.  Understanding and resolution are involved on special occasions…maybe.

So we end up with a sort of half baked job of resolving a need that is only partially understood, with an action that is moderately successful at best.

Another great example is living with a teenager, which I’m in the middle of in my life. I can easily jump from the awareness of slumped shoulders leaning over a cell phone and jump to action with an annoyed voice, “Put that phone DOWN and pick up a few dishes or a book, PLEASE.”

The quality of both our lives is degraded, rather than enhanced. The fear of her damaging herself with that awful phone takes over and I jump to action based on anger which has a deep fear at its source. Nothing resolved, just hurt feelings, dirty looks and a feeling of despair and helplessness. Change has happened and it is not what I really want.

In this blog series I’ll cover the 5 steps to conscious change, learning and transformation. In the next blog I’ll talk about awareness and acceptance, then in the next, talk about the last 3 steps that culminate with the kind of action that makes life the fulfilling, rewarding experience we all crave.

Don’t quit yet! Read Part 2 & Part 3 of The Conscious Process of Positive Change


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