One of the most challenging things for me is people who appear to want a better life but don’t want to make any changes to get there. It’s as if they think if they weren’t born with it, why bother? And then they spend their time blaming others for their lack of success. It’s challenging because I KNOW it’s possible for EVERYONE to change their current circumstances with the right mindset.
There’s a reason it’s difficult to change your life. Actually, there are a few reasons, maybe hundreds. The point here is while it may be difficult to change your life, it’s completely doable. And you can start today!
First, let’s explore a few reasons why changing someone’s life is so difficult.
Where’s Your Focus?
I was fortunate to learn about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs early in life and it has shaped my understanding of human behavior greatly. I’ve studied it over and over again from many different contexts and situations and it always makes sense. Let’s talk about how it stops people from creating a better life.
Maslow’s Hierarchy posits that all humans start at the bottom rung when it comes to psychological health. Remember, when it comes to making changes in life, it all starts with our mind. According to the pyramid, people need to feel confident their needs will be met within one rung before they can even consider things at the next rung. Let me provide an example. I can’t think about self-improvement or growth (Esteem) until I know my food, clothing, and personal safety needs are met. While I may want to learn how to be a better human, my priority is rent, food, and clothing.
This is one reason free school lunches for low-income families are so important in schools. Kids can’t focus on learning if their basic needs aren’t being met at home.
The same is true for adults. If I have to worry about whether or not I’ll be abused by my spouse this evening (safety), it may be difficult for me to focus on my job during the day. And unfortunately, if I can’t focus on my job, I’m negatively impacting my safety in other ways (loss of income).
This loop makes it very difficult for someone to get out of the cycle and move up the rung of success.
It’s kind of like not being able to see the forest for the trees. Their vision is focused on the tree in front of them so it’s impossible to see the beauty of the entire forest.
Are You Destined for the Struggles You Currently Have?
Another, and maybe stronger reason people have a difficult time changing their life is a belief that your current circumstances are the circumstances you are destined to have for all eternity. It’s all you’ve known, all you’ve witnessed, and therefore, it’s all you can imagine. Better lives are for those “other” people – people who were destined for better lives. They are for people on TV and the Internet but they aren’t for me. This is my life and will always be my life – it’s my destiny.
That belief system keeps people stuck. It’s “stinky thinking.” And, it’s complete bullsh#%!
Storytime – When I was about 20 years old, I was going through it. I had grown up poor, my parents divorced when I was about 5, mom married 7 times, my dad married 5 times, I was in a new school literally every year of my life, and both of my parents were dead by the time I was 18. There’s a lot more to it but suffice it to say, it hadn’t been an easy life by any stretch of the imagination. I was having some health problems as a result of stress. As per the Drs. orders, I took a stress management class at my local college (free because I was an orphan). It was there that I was introduced to a book called “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale.
I have to say the book is pretty old school – it was written in the 1950s. But it changed my life nonetheless.
For the first time in my life, I was introduced to the idea that I wasn’t destined for the life I had experienced for the past 20 years. As a matter of fact, simply by thinking differently, I could completely change my life. Shut the front door! For some reason, I always think of this in the context of playing cards and I realized I could hand in my cards and not only ask for a new hand but expect a better one. I can keep doing this over and over again until I had the life I wanted.
This sounds so simple but I remember it being mind-blowing at the time and being surprised so many times in my life when I realized others didn’t know this.
In essence, this one mind hack allows you to jump the levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. While you may be poor and struggling today, by understanding the power of the mind, you can also dabble in self-actualization. And guess what? By doing so, one is able to move up the wrung faster.
When I read the book I was living in a crappy apartment, working as a waitress at Denny’s, and randomly passing out for no apparent reason. In hindsight I can see I would likely still be living in a crappy apartment and working at something comparable to Denny’s had I not been introduced to the concepts in this book – and that was over 30 years ago. This book led to other books and ultimately a trajectory of change in my way of thinking and in the outcomes of my life.
I have a long history and several articles on the impact of our beliefs as it's been a game changer for me. If you are interested in learning more about how your beliefs are shaping your life, you might like one of the following articles. How Your Beliefs Might Be the Problem How the Words You Choose Shape Your Life Increase Your Confidence/Courage in 3 Easy Steps
Or Maybe You’re Afraid?
Fear stops people from living. It’s likely the most powerful motivator for most people not to change their life.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of failure.
Fear of ridicule for even trying.
Fear of change.
Fear of success.
The way I see it, if you are reading this post, you are seeking something different. That means your current life is not fulfilling and you want to get out of it (or at least portions of it). So, really what have you got to lose?
If you fail, at least you tried.
While it may be unknown, hell, it might be freakin fantastic! But I get it. Even if the current life is not ideal, at least you know what to expect and there is some comfort in that.
If people are judging or ridiculing you for trying, just know they are simply projecting their own insecurities onto you. They aren’t knocking you, they are mocking themselves for not having the courage to do what you are trying to do.
A New Way of Thinking
I like to think of change as a new adventure. An opportunity to see or do something new. It’s almost like being an explorer on earth. I look at doing something new like a science experiment – “I wonder what would happen if . . .” Science experiments are relatively safe in the confines of a lab. I like to look at the whole world as my lab. But it wasn’t always that way.
Start small. Make a few small changes. Read a book you wouldn’t normally read. (Here are a few you may want to try)
Encourage someone else today.
Say “I can” more than “I can’t.”
Acknowledge change may be hard but it isn’t impossible . . .even for you.