Hi. I’m recording this live in my group #InCharge. Thank you so much for watching, and Happy New Year. I haven’t done one of these in a while. Today I know that you’re riding the fresh energy of New Year’s resolutions or at least intentions. I’m going to talk about change and why change is so hard and why so many people fall off the wagon of New Year’s resolutions so fast and why it’s not your fault.
As you know, I like to talk about our conditioning. What makes us think, feel, and behave in the ways that we do? There are layers to that. The core level is our individual experiences, our individual history, then the familial experiences, what gets passed down to us from generations of our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents. Then on top of that, we have the cultural experience: How our culture conditions us to think and behave, what it tells us about us, what makes us good, what makes us bad, what makes people love us, what makes people not love us, right? It’s complicated, really.
How does this play out into change? As we’re growing up, we are experiencing in no uncertain terms what’s safe and what’s not safe. We are rewarded for some behaviors, and we are punished or at least disregarded for other behaviors, so we figure out the ways to be and behave and to think and to feel about ourselves. They stay with us way into adulthood, way into our lives. Then we find ourselves acting, feeling, and behaving in these ways.
When we’re trying to make a change, we think we want that change, but what happens is it puts us outside of the comfort zone of our familiar thinking, feeling, and behavior. That is conditioned through our experiences being reinforced for doing something, not doing something, being a certain way, not being a certain way. Plus our familial experiences, what our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc., passed down to us. And the cultural experiences. How we’re conditioned, really, it’s like our culture is casting a spell that we’re all under in terms of how we learn to think and feel about ourselves.
What does it mean to be attractive? What does it mean to be smart, not smart? Who gets to decide that? What does it mean to be successful, not successful? Who gets to decide that? We grow up in the world where other people make these decisions for us. They condition us to think and feel in certain ways about ourselves because we’re wired to survive in this society. Survival depends on the love and approval of others, so we get conditioned to think and feel and behave in certain ways.
When we try to make a change that departs from that comfort zone, we are endangering ourselves. What happens in the brain? The amygdala starts firing up. It’s like facing a new real danger like a saber-toothed tiger when we step outside that comfort zone because we’re risking the disapproval of others, the disapproval of our parents, the disapproval of the society. Even if no society police is going to come knocking on our door, even if our relationship with our parents is really nice and approving, still, that conditioning that we received growing up in our very early childhood is so strong, it is subconscious.
Our subconscious mind tells us, “Stay here. Don’t go there. Here you’re safe, and there you’re not.” All this conditioning causes us to settle for the familiar and not make a leap. When we try to make a leap, we often self-sabotage and revert back. Why? Because the amygdala is sending the signal it’s not safe. Hmm, so it’s not your fault when you fall off the wagon of New Year’s resolutions or otherwise good intentions.
What to do about this? Can this be changed? Of course. Of course, but it cannot be changed by just thinking or talking about this. Because this conditioning is so wired into our survival system in the brain, it can only be changed, really radically changed, through the body, through working with the nervous system and the brain directly.
That’s why I love the tools of yoga, such as breathing, that bring our nervous system from the stress response or sympathetic activation into parasympathetic activation or relaxed response right on the dime right away. It’s really impossible, it’s impossible to be thinking anxious or self-defeating thoughts when your nervous system is in the relaxation response, when you’re feeling relaxed. It is impossible. I challenge you to do that.
The takeaway from this, what’s going to help you in sticking to your intentions or resolutions or desires to create something different for yourself in the new year is:
First, having compassion for yourself, recognizing that when you are having difficulty making that leap, making that change, it’s not just you. There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing, I promise you, there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s your conditioning. Everybody has that. We’re all conditioned in our society to stay in a certain box of expectations. How to get outside that box is by being gentle with yourself, encouraging yourself, trying different things.
Second, finding a group of people who will support you because it will get tough. You will want to fall off the wagon and settle in the comfort of the familiar. Breaking outside of the familiar is very, very hard.
The third thing you want to do is really work, consciously work on relaxation, on conditioning your nervous system to be in the parasympathetic response.
Why? Because it sends the signal to your body and mind that you are safe. When you are safe, you can accomplish anything. That amygdala is not firing, signaling that you must not do this, you must not send that email, you must not do that presentation, you must not go for that big opportunity. When you’re relaxed, your self-talk is very different. You don’t even need to do any mindset work because when you are relaxed, that energy is just flowing through you. Your thoughts fall in perfect alignment with your desires and your intentions.
Please let me know what you think about it in the comments. I want to let you know that I am working on a little something special to share with you in the beginning of this new year. I am working on a masterclass on the spells of social conditioning that cause us to settle for less than the happiest, most fulfilled, and abundant life that we’re here to live.
I will show you those seven spells, and I will give you the antidotes. I will give you the tools to break through them to support your journey of living your true destiny filling those big shoes that you’re here to fill, the shoes of your future brilliant, abundant, magnificent self. Thank you so much for being here with me today. Happy New Year. I will be with you next week.
Talk to you next week.
Stay in your heart.