Are you at a place in your life where you feel stuck in a rut? Maybe you feel that life is happening to you? Could it be that your life is not manifesting in the way you had hoped? Though the experience of feeling stuck or thinking there is no way out can be debilitating, there is hope and it is possible to make a change. By practicing mental presence, or mindfulness, when combined with objectively looking at all aspects of life, these tools can put you on the path towards transforming your life to a new and better one. As you become more aware on your journey, you will soon discover that your life will also change.
“The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is.” Eckhart Tolle
What are the steps we take on our journey to bring change about
This may sound odd at first, but the first step is to be where your feet are. Which means, be completely present in this right now moment. People who are stuck in the past live in “victim hood”. The victim hood is an internal state, a “neighborhood” if you will, where we attract other people who also think, feel, and say similar things. Things like, “life is hard”, “another Monday?”, “Is life EVER going to get better?” In the victim hood we numb out to avoid feeling unwanted emotions – things like loss, sadness, disappointment, rejection, and powerlessness. Mental poverty is common in the victim hood – which leads to actual poverty and traps us even further in the past, wishing for what “could have been” or “should have been”.
If you are living in the past, you will not be able to move on. So, try clearing the slate and practice being fully present in this moment, without numbing yourself out. It may be tough at first – and you can do it. You’ll find that transforming your life is a process.
Ask the Essential Questions
In this state of being fully present, look very carefully and objectively at yourself and your life. Be honest with yourself. This is not the same as judging yourself. It’s not easy, and you need to ask yourself some tough yet essential questions: Do I like where I am? If not, where do I want to go? Do I like my life? If not, how do I prefer my life to be? Do I like who I am? If not, who can I become? Who am I when I am at my best?
Create a Vision for the Future
As you become more self-aware and develop a clear understanding of where you are in life you will be able to pinpoint areas of discontent. You can begin to envision where you want to go and what you will achieve. This understanding leads to vision – an important basis for change. Knowing who we want to be and what we want to do in this life provides us the direction we need to continue transforming our lives.
Shift Your Mindset
Now that your vision is clear, it is important to begin sowing the seeds of change. Just as a seedling is given fertile ground and nurturing your ideas and actions for your future need to be carefully cultivated. At this stage, your thoughts and your environment are particularly important. To avoid slipping into old habits or ways of thinking, make sure to surround yourself with positive messaging. This reinforcement needs to happen on a daily – if not hourly – basis. Hang pictures or quotes on your walls – anything that will help remind you about your goals. Develop a mantra and use it frequently. Make a list of your “Whys” – why you need to make this change and read the list every day.
Take this example of quitting smoking:
Why I am going to stop smoking:
- I’ll be able to breathe better. No more getting winded on the stairs!
- I might live longer. I’ll decrease the risk of getting cancer and other diseases.
- I won’t stink anymore!
- I’ll expand my social circles – maybe even improve my love life! After all, who wants to kiss an ashtray??
- I’ll have more money.
Make your list exciting to YOU and full of YOUR reasons. Frequent reminders of your Why work on a subconscious level to change your world from the inside out.
Take it One Step at a Time
Sacred scriptures from multiple religious traditions teach the importance of perseverance and open-mindedness on the path of change.
One example of this is the saying from Jesus of Nazareth, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (or Good).” (Matthew 19:24 KJV)
Although there are variations of this saying in Abrahamic traditions, the gist of it is that the journey towards self-actualization is not always easy and requires a humble approach (read open to asking for help and guidance). Jesus might not have been referring to the eye of a literal needle. He could have been referring to a narrow entrance into the city of Jerusalem, a gate known locally as “the eye of the needle.” This entrance was so small that a camel could only be brought through with great difficulty, crawling on its’ front knees. Everything had to be taken off the camel’s back for the camel to enter the city. The rider would bring its’ luggage through to be placed back on the camel in Jerusalem. My interpretation of this saying may be unconventional and here is my take on it: It is crucial to ask for help and drop any baggage that is holding you back to make it to where you really want to be – your new neighborhood. Trust that the wisdom and lessons that you really need will be available to you on the other side.
The gateway to transforming your life may seem daunting because it is. The daunting nature of it is the perfect illusion to convince us that we cannot move forward. Don’t let it fool you – you can move forward because other people have moved forward. Take it slowly, follow in their footsteps, be open to asking for help, and stay consistent. Take one step at a time, and don’t look back. You will eventually arrive in your new neighborhood, a city of wholeness and peace.