Change – Identifying our Blind Spots

Continuing our series on Change

Two posts ago, I wrote about our tendency when we are feeling stuck in our lives to make a small, temporary change instead of facing the bigger issue.  This week, let’s talk about what makes us feel stuck.

I’ve found the BIG THINGS that need to change tend to live in our blind spots.  They are often things we do so repeatedly and routinely that we don’t even notice them anymore, like a job, relationships (intimate, social or family), where you live, physical or mental well-being, or any combination of these.  These are all things we do so often that we forget the cumulative effect over time.  Have you ever noticed that it normally takes someone more objective pointing it out, or a major incident for us to realize that something was making us really unhappy?

I would wager it is like this for many of us.  So how can we start to see these things in ourselves?  I’ve found a few techniques that work for me:

1)      A daily body scan.  This sounds harder than it is, but it really only takes a minute (60 seconds; I’m not kidding), and you can do it in bed!  Start with your head and work down, noticing any tension, stiffness or soreness in your body.  I like to do this in the morning and proceed with my day accordingly.  If I feel especially tired or sore that day, I’ll give myself more time to do everything, from having my tea to prepping my equipment at work.  But you can do it at night as a relaxation routine too.  Either way, you are checking in with your body every day.  Our bodies will often tell us something is amiss long before we realize it consciously, from a muscle twinge that precedes a crick in the neck, to a stomachache that mysteriously only happens in the morning before work.

2)      A phone call (text, email) or visit with a close family member or friend.  We forget how important our social ties are to our sense of self.  That person whose opinion we trust over anyone else’s has a tendency to make us more aware of ourselves.  And you literally just have to see them or talk to them to observe yourself more closely: you share “news” with each other that doesn’t seem like news when you think about it yourself.  If you try this, I encourage you to be open to ALL of the emotions that come up during a visit.  That twinge of envy about their promotion or their awesome vacation could be the motivation you need to get moving on something new!

3)      Try to PUSH yourself out of your comfort zone regularly.  The bad news is this one is the hardest.  The good news is that there are an infinite number of ways to do it, from brushing your teeth in a different order, to trying a new restaurant, to visiting a new place.  So before you say, “I can’t afford to try new things,” think of all the daily routines you could do differently that would cost no money at all.  Change your route to work and see a new building or neighborhood.  Buy a new fruit or vegetable during your normal grocery store run, take it home and try to figure out how to prepare it.

By checking in with ourselves, maintaining our important social ties, and getting out of our comfort zones regularly, we force ourselves to really LOOK at our lives and our routines on a regular basis, which helps us identify the things that aren’t working more easily.

Next week, I’ll talk about how making a major change affects our friends and loved ones, and how to be sensitive to the emotions that can come up from them about us making big changes.

Posted on Thursday, May 1, 2014 18:32