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Creating Life Changes

July 2009
Carol Adrienne

“We change whether we like it or not.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Despite the fact that we cannot help but change, we seem to have a constant yearning for things to be different in our life. My guess is that this focus on changing something in our life is a corollary of other ideas invisibly current in Western culture.  For example, here in the United States, we place a high value on freedom—freedom, I suppose, to make changes when we want to make changes.  We also place a high value on having, and having more, whether it is leisure time, money, quality time with the kids, or a bigger house. The desire for change often accompanies the feelings of wanting more of something or less of something else.

For most, the idea of “creating life changes” seems productive and beneficial—maybe even good for the planet. The list of the changes we desire, of course, is endless.  Unfortunately, as much as we dream of change, we are just as likely to feel inadequate to the task of making any change, be it changing careers, partners, body weight, or income brackets.  This is called resistance, which we’ll talk about in a minute (Am I resisting the topic??)

Change Comes in Different Colors, Forms, Textures and Phases—
It’s 3-Dimensional!

What are these changes of which we dream? Why do we think we should make them?  Take a moment and ask yourself, “Is there something I’d like to change in my life?  If so, why?  What do I want that I don’t already have?”

Review the types of change I’ve listed below—transformational, situational, (addition and elimination) and evolutionary.
Next, I suggest that you write down on paper what changes you would like to make in your life, and the results that you are looking for. Be advised. Writing down your goal is a powerful step in bringing this change to you, so be prepared to see something happen in the next few days or weeks!

Transformational Change.
Generally, this type happens to you through major life decisions, necessity, or synchronicity.  For example, my own transformations occurred with my first marriage, the birth of my two children, getting breast cancer and recovering, and starting a writing and speaking career.  Each of these incidents forced me out of my comfort zone, and demanded that I pay attention to each moment.  In working with the changes in my fortune, I learned to handle my fears and develop new strengths.  I even came to the valuable realization that, despite my life not looking like I thought it “should,” I was often quite happy during those times.

Intention, Timing, and Unconscious Resistance Play a Part. Transformational change is perhaps more difficult to create by intention alone (for example, when you haven’t yet found the right person to marry or in the case of wanting children but having trouble getting pregnant.)  You may think your conscious intention is strong, but other factors may be at work—such as the timing is not yet right, or you may have unconscious resistance to this goal.  For example, you may unconsciously fear that you won’t be a good mother, or that you might re-create your own traumatic childhood.  You might not consciously realize that your own freedom is a higher priority than getting involved with the needs of another person.  If resistance is strong, just accept where you are for the moment; however—if you want to--imagine a crack in the door of resistance, just to allow for joyful, new possibilities to wander in!

Be Open To Results Different Than Planned. When attempting to create profound change, be gentle, have patience, and trust your process.  Transformational change can happen in a second.  It can seem miraculous.

Situational Change # 1

You may be thinking of a change that requires adding something to your life. Five years ago  I decided to make an addition to my house.  Even though I live alone, when my family visits with four grandchildren, suddenly the house fills up.  I wanted more room in the kitchen to allow for a larger dining table.  The extra space downstairs would also make possible a second bathroom upstairs. My emotional motivation--having the ability to gather together my family--overrode the mental resistance I had to parting with my money to pay for the construction!

Change Requires an Emotionally Compelling Reason. To create an addition (of any kind) in your life, first ask yourself the following questions:  Is this addition worth doing?  How will it make me feel?  What are the practical benefits?  Am I willing to live with any negative outcomes? (in my case, possibly higher property taxes, more square feet to clean, lots of decisions, or the  possibility of making a costly mistake.) 

Of course, an emotional resistance to change can be masked by practical questions.  For example, your internal dialogue can sound like, What will people think? I’m not sure I’m ready.  What if things don’t work out? What if I’m worse off than before? Outwardly, you say, I don’t have the money. or Is this the right time?

Fear of the unknown and fear that we can’t handle what will emerge are two common forms of resistance.

Focus on the Positive. To deal with resistance consciously, pinpoint your strongest motivations for the change.  Write down every possible positive benefit that the change could bring.  A compelling list of “pros” creates a strong level of intention that attracts unexpected support for your new venture.  Unfolding replaces efforting.

Clear Your Own Doubts. Often when we talk about making a change, others love to tell us that we are making a mistake, or even that we are crazy!   Their pessimistic and cautionary comments are reflections of our own internal doubts.  Once you truly let go of major doubts (internal resistance) and make up your mind to go ahead, you will find that others no longer question or criticize your decision to change. 

Make a List of Tasks or Problems to Handle. Rough out the things you need to do to get the ball rolling.  Usually the first step is a phone call, email, or Internet search!  Work quietly and steadily, and don’t invite a lot of comments from people with no vested interested other than spouting their opinion. Do stay open to good advice.

Put it in Your Calendar.  Nothing gets done unless you’ve committed a time to do it.  Write each task in your weekly or monthly schedule.  This step alone can make the difference between change and complaining about your life forever.

Break it Down. Take small steps in the direction of your change. Don’t rush your process, but do keep moving.

Situational Change # 2

 Another face of situational change is getting rid of something you no longer want—which tends to be of a long-standing duration.  This could be too much weight, a bad habit, a job that has burned you out, a toxic relationship, or the burden of debt. Obviously, eliminating resistance to the change you long for fits in here as well!

Even if you feel overwhelmed at the idea of attempting to change a deeply rooted process, keep focusing on the following truth.

Nothing in this world is permanent. Make it your mantra. 

Avoid Telling the Old Story.  In my coaching practice, I frequently hear comments such as, “I’ve never been good with money.” “I’m not good at speaking in public.”  “I never meet anyone interesting.” 

A shift in thinking has to occur before we can truly get engaged in releasing our negative whatever-it-is.  I suggest starting by training yourself to say, “In the past, I was never good with money, but now… (“I’m determined to do whatever it takes to get financially sound,” or use whatever words sound right to you.).  “In the past, I didn’t enjoy public speaking, but now….(for example, “I’m willing to share stories and information about my business to let people know about my work”)  “I haven’t met anyone I’m interested in yet, but I always have my eye open for that unexpected gem.”  Change starts by allowing a different conversation to take place internally. 

Spend More Time on Things Which Bring You Joy.  You deserve happiness.  Why not?  Instead of putting your energy into thinking about what you don’t want, make an internal change in attitude.  Shift your focus in another direction.  Find a hobby that gives you time for yourself. Learn how to write a mystery novel. Plant a tiny garden.  Practice yoga instead of watching TV or eating the extra dessert.  Walk around the block and listen to a nice long audio book on your MP3 player. Each of these changes is within your power to make.

It’s never too late to change.  The past does not necessarily have to determine the future. Life is always at some turning point.  Take a few seconds each day just to picture yourself happy.  Change starts inside.

Smile More. A friend told me that her life began to change dramatically when she started smiling more each day.  “It was extraordinary how people reacted, and how good I felt, even though I made no other big changes in my life.”

Find Positive Support. You don’t have to go it alone. Enlist the help of a (willing and positive) friend. Find a group who resonates with your goals. Find the information you  need to take a new step, such as your financial status in a divorce, putting your house on the market, or going back to school.

Change through Diversification.
This type of change is akin to change by addition. We want to be more prepared, resilient, and fulfilled.  We’re bored and we want to grow. Usually, diversification (or adaptation) is required when we get a clear sense that the road ahead is going to require us to adapt to different external circumstances.  Perhaps we are facing a job layoff or a retirement we can’t yet afford to take. 

Diversification is an aspect of the universal desire for self-expression.  The motivation for this kind of change might be the desire to be seen and recognized, to stand out as unique and worthwhile, and to feel that we are making a difference.  We are intrinsically fulfilled when we shine at any task, whether it is growing peaches or organizing a project.  We feel alive when engaged fully in a creative endeavor such as writing, practicing yoga, painting, country dancing, acting, taking photographs, or inspiring others—no matter whether we are paid or not.

In my twenties, I pursued a career in painting.  That path morphed into a metaphysical practice, brought about by my deep interest in numerology, symbols, and archetypal psychology.  Life changes evolved out of my hunger to know more and to apply what I learned.  A few years later, it morphed again into writing, this time through sheer necessity.

I remember clearly the time in my life when everything fell apart because of a second divorce, illness, and my physical inability to return to my previous line of office work.  I literally woke up one morning and asked myself, “What am I willing to do to increase my income?”  At the time, I had been living in the house of a good friend.  While I enjoyed my time with her, I wanted my own place.  My specific need to earn enough money to rent my own apartment gave me a clear motive that pushed me beyond my self-doubts. The intuitive answer that came to me that day was,“Maybe I could help someone with their writing.”  Surprised and skeptical, (I’d never written professionally before or been trained) I took the next step of calling a friend, who soon referred me to a man who needed help with his manuscript.  The material need to make more money caused me to (seriously) diversify my skills and career path, and opened up a whole new phase of writing books, public speaking, and teaching, which I never, ever suspected would happen.

Change as Evolution.
This type of change is the result of paying attention to the moment, and taking actions needed to fulfill your life purpose!  The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, said, “Everything flows, nothing stays still.”  Our lives do flow along a path that I believe we have accepted (or chosen) before birth.  Our life purpose is found in pursuing a general direction and through developing opportunities, for example, to give back, balance a karmic debt, develop a talent, and expand our Soul’s expression of love and compassion. 

However, since our lives are not pre-determined, there’s no guarantee we’ll fulfill our purpose.  We may evolve through default (would this be true evolution?  I’m not sure), or through concerted effort.  Certainly, we might evolve to a certain extent just by following where the river takes us, with little steering of our boat.  At worst, we avoid responding and changing, and fail to fulfil our potential.

Evolution happens as we become more conscious.  We develop strength and wisdom through handling life challenges, such as the loss of a loved one, a major illness, some sort of deep humiliation, or perhaps, the stress of fame (think of celebrities such as Michael Jackson.) 

We evolve purposefully by pushing the envelope of our known world, by wanting to see what’s on the other side of the horizon, or by seeking to serve a cause greater than our own life.  Evolutionary change—perhaps the most profound and tricky-- is deeply rooted in the ever-present nudging of our Soul’s purpose for this life (whether conscious or unconscious.) 

Be Careful What You Ask For.  In the words of a Zen priest I once heard, Karma rides on the will.  Therefore, the tricky part of the tricky part is becoming more aware of how, in our quest for change, our decisions and choices may produce more karma!

Have a happy summer without too much pondering of these imponderables!  My next column will appear in September.

Carol Adrienne

Carol Adrienne, Ph.D. is an intuitive counselor and life coach who has helped thousands of people work through doubt, procrastination, and obstacles to create the life they want to live.
Her books include, The Purpose of Your Life, and When Life Changes, Or you Wish it Would. 
Private consultations and coaching available. Contact her at
Please email Carol with a story or question about your own life for consideration for her monthly column.

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