When people discuss change, focus is always put on having a WHY, on figuring out what the intrinsic motivator is for the change to occur. And the truth is, having a WHY is important, otherwise we wouldn’t even bother and the discussion (and the change) would end there.
Why do you want to lose weight?
Why do you want to start to exercise?
Why do you want to get better at building relationships?
Why do you want to be a better parent?
Why do you want work to be better?
But there is a crucial, and often overlooked, second part to meaningful change:
belief that it is even possible.
Do you believe that you can lose weight and keep it off, or do you have lots of evidence to the contrary?
Do you believe that when push comes to shove you, you actually have it in you to start exercising?
Do you believe that you can summon the mental and emotional energy after a long day to contribute anything to building relationships?
Do you believe that you can even contemplate becoming less reactive when your children just seem to get better and better at pushing your buttons?
Do you believe that you can even feel better at work if staffing ratios, employer expectations, and patient acuity don’t change?
If not, having a WHY is simply not going to get you there.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a tragedy. It doesn’t have to end here
Many of us can answer the question of our WHY without too much difficulty. So once we have that, how do we create belief that it is possible? Can we just decide to believe something?
It is possible to create belief for yourself. It just takes some thought and some practice, and the return on investment is worth both.
Now I haven’t met a lot of people who can just shift their thinking from “it’s not possible” to “it’s totally possible”. This isn’t about mantra-ing your way to a new thought. (I am a fan of some mantras, just not in this situation. They just seem unbelievable when applied here.)
There is an easier way and it starts with a question instead of a statement.
What if it’s possible?
What if it IS possible to lose weight or exercise or not be totally overwhelmed at work?
Ask yourself this question right now. What if it IS possible?
By phrasing it as a question, your brain will immediately start to try and solve for it. Questions of possibility disrupt the cycle of ruminating thoughts and your current beliefs of I can’t, I’ll never, or I’m trapped.
Questions of positive possibility disrupt rumination (sign me up).
Questions BREED possibility.
Possibility animates your why into action, it helps you find the HOW.
Think about it. What if it IS possible? What would that look like? Take a minute and imagine it, imagine the details, imagine how you would FEEL.
You can feel that way NOW. Imagining the possibility can get you INTO the space of already feeling the result. And from this place, your brain will continue to look for evidence to support you in moving forward rather than staying stuck in lack of belief and despair.
Once you can activate this cycle, your life can start to change.
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