To make changes in your life or to find solutions to problems, you may first need to take a step back in order to see the bigger picture. Everyone has different strategies for making important decisions. Personally, I always try to get a good night’s sleep before making any final calls. Sleeping on decisions keeps me from jumping the gun and acting only out of my current emotional state and my limited perspective. This strategy also gives me the time to use critical thinking and to listen to my instincts.
I know from personal experience that sometimes the solution we’re seeking lies far outside of our current paradigm of thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, and it takes time to recognize and open yourself to new possibilities.
Einstein summed up this problem, saying, “A problem cannot be solved with the same mind that created it.”
A few years ago, I was in the darkest place of my life. My dream of owning my own holistic health clinic had crashed and burned during the Great Recession, and I was in serious financial trouble. My confidence took a nosedive, my friendships and relationships dwindled, and anxiety ruled my life. I felt like I was being punished by the world even though I’d worked my hardest, done my best, and played by all the rules.
I had never, not even for a second, ever wanted to be a professional dominatrix. BDSM had never been part of my vision for life or my career, and the first time a friend suggested it to me, I laughed out loud. Being a dominatrix was so far outside of my paradigm of identity and success that, at first, it didn’t even register as a real option.
The idea, though, wouldn’t leave me alone, and over the course of a few weeks, I realized that this crazy idea was my answer. It was the immediate solution to my financial problems and the long-term solution for my identity and confidence as a woman. It wasn’t easy to accept, and it took a long time to reconcile myself to this major life change, but as soon as I let this new idea take root inside me, my life blossomed into something more fulfilling, challenging, bold, and rewarding than I could have ever imagined.
Amazing things happen when we remove the barriers built up in our thoughts, feelings and beliefs to allow new options and ideas to flow in. I’m not suggesting that you do anything illegal, unethical, or even dramatic—only that you begin to search for and release any immobilizing beliefs that have kept you from making the positive changes that you desire for your life.
So, how do you go about this? Analyzing our own minds is never simple, and we tend to have blind spots for the beliefs and thought patterns that affect us most. Just because things are difficult, however, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them, and I hope you’ll use the following strategies to begin looking into yourself and removing the obstacles that stand between your current situation and your ideal future.
Make a list. Set aside some time to look deep down inside, and write down the things that you think and feel about yourself, your current situation, and your goals. Chances are, some of these beliefs are harming your self-confidence and your ability to wholeheartedly pursue your dreams. If, for example, you want to become a writer or a business owner but you believe that you don’t have enough good ideas or good enough business skills, then making those dreams happen is going to be really difficult—by holding onto these beliefs, you’re holding yourself back. If this is the case, it’s time to look for solutions from a new perspective.
Acknowledge fear, but don’t listen to it. Don't allow fear to keep you from seriously considering an alternative approach to living the life you deserve. Weigh the long-term benefits against the short-term pain. Yes, it will cause you a certain amount of emotional, physical, and spiritual pain to change your life, but ask yourself: “Is the pain of change less than the pain of the same?” If it is, it’s time to be bold.
Be decisive and courageous. Once you’ve decided to make a change, found a solution to a problem, or made a decision, act swiftly. Never put off acting on decisions once you know the right answer or have discovered a promising direction to move in. If you don’t take decisive action, the decision will eventually be made for you by default. By not making a choice for yourself, you’re choosing to live with the choices others make for you.
Stay positive. Focus on the benefits of your new decisions and solutions. Will you be healthier? Happier? Wealthier? In a better relationship? In a more rewarding job? There must be benefits to your change, so once you’ve made your decision, focus on the positive benefits of your commitment. Every one of your choices starts a chain reaction, and if you’re making positive, empowering choices, you’ll be dazzled by how many new opportunities for positive change and growth will appear once you commit to changing your life for the better.
Life can be a scary place. Sometimes, it’s incredibly tempting to stay in our regular routines and learn to accept problems and unhappiness because staying the same is easier than making big changes. Deep down, though, we all know that living a status quo life isn’t really fulfilling. We all long for meaningful, exciting lives, and our minds are built for challenge and growth.
So, if you’re feeling stuck and searching for solutions, it’s time to stop searching for answers in all of your usual places. Open yourself to new ideas, have patience, and stay focused on the amazing life you want to create.
It won’t be easy, but it will absolutely be worth it.
Author: Sandra LaMorgese PhD