By Jack A. Ori, Contributing Writer.
Transformation isn’t as easy as it looks from the outside.
Sometimes there’s a big gap between who you are and who you want to be, and it can be frustrating to try to navigate it. We often feel like it SHOULD be simple. Just decide to be different and like magic, we’ll be exactly the way we want to be.
The truth is that change takes hard work. You’ve built the kind of life you’re currently living for a reason — it didn’t happen by accident. Sometimes we make choices out of pain or fear that solve one problem but create a bigger one, and that’s when we feel so acutely that there’s more to life than what we’re currently experiencing and hunger for something different.
The good news is that that pain can turn into determination to become different. There are no magic solutions, but there are some powerful techniques that you can use at home to help you begin the process of transforming into the person you had hoped you would become and live the life of your dreams.
1. Ask yourself what the person you most want to be might do.
I discovered this technique by accident while writing a scene in which a character’s therapist literally asked him, “What might the guy you most want to be do right now?” That led to a powerful, transformational scene for my protagonist, and I quickly realized I could do the same thing in real life.
This technique is deceptively simple. You simply ask the question and see what pops into your head. Often the answers you get can help you get unstuck when you feel caught up in some pattern of behavior that you’d really like to change.
For example, if you’re prone to losing your temper, when you start to feel anger building up you can ask yourself what the person you most want to be might do now and come up with a way to calm yourself down or to deal with the situation that is making you angry in a different way.
The key to this technique is to not censor yourself. If you have a hard time answering this question, get a pen and paper and write on the top of it: Right now, the person I most want to be might… Then set a timer for 60 seconds and write down every ending to that sentence that pops into your head, without stopping to think. Keep the pen moving even if you’re writing nonsense and you will soon break through to something that works for you.
2. Find a reinvention buddy.
After you get some answers, the next step is to act on them, because change starts with the choice to do something different than you’ve always done. This is the most challenging part of the process, because some of the ideas you come up with might be scary and you might feel like you can’t really do that. That’s why it can be helpful to find a friend who wants to change too and who supports the changes you want to make.
One of the reasons that change is so scary and difficult is that it can be a lonely process. Sometimes well-meaning friends discourage your efforts to change. They might not understand that the new you is actually healthier and try to get you to change back. And some friends also have low self-esteem and might be uncomfortable with your new attitude or jealous that you changed and they’re still stuck.
That’s why finding a friend to support you is important. That’ll stop you from feeling alone or afraid that you’ll lose all your friends if you make the changes you need in your life.
A good reinvention buddy also keeps you accountable. When someone else knows that you intend to do something, it makes it harder to back out. Your friend can ask you how your new activity went or encourage you to keep trying new things when you feel like backtracking.
3. Commit to going out of your comfort zone.
All change is scary and uncomfortable at first. So if you’re really going to change, you need to get used to feeling the anxiety and discomfort that comes with doing anything truly new.
A couple years ago, I did a comfort zone challenge in a support group I was part of. The group leader encouraged everyone to choose one activity every day that took them out of their comfort zone. Members posted their successes and got points for each day they did the challenge.
Any activity qualified; it didn’t have to be something huge. For me, one day’s comfort zone challenge was telling the cashier at my favorite bagel shop that I wanted tea instead of coffee. It was uncomfortable for me to change my routine, especially when I thought the cashier expected me to order coffee. It felt awkward and strange. But doing that made me feel better about myself because I asked for what I really wanted.
If you want to transform yourself, try doing this kind of comfort zone challenge. You only have to choose one new behavior per day, and it can be something tiny. Share your comfort zone challenges with your reinvention buddy or post them on social media. Most importantly, pay attention to how it makes you feel every time you do something out of your comfort zone. You might find that you’re more anxious before you do the challenge than after and that doing things that make you uncomfortable end up making you feel great about yourself!
Self-transformation may not be easy, but it’s worth it. When you put the work in to closing the gap between who you are and who you want to be, it helps increase your self-esteem, self-confidence, and general happiness.
And best of all, when you’re happy and fulfilled, you have more energy available to help others. So try out these techniques for transforming your life and share how they work for you.
Jack A. Ori is a writer and life coach who empowers young adults through stories to live life on their own terms. He is currently working on Reinventing Hannah, a novel about a 16-year-old girl who is determined to reinvent herself positively after she is raped at the kind of party no one expected her to go to. To learn more about Jack and his work, please visit http://www.jackaori.com