Friday, March 6, 2015

Three Types of Change

Change. We love it, we hate it but nothing stops it. Granted, some changes are more positive than others and so we understandably like to stick with what we know. There is safety and comfort in familiarity and that is not a bad thing. However, some circumstances in life demand our participation, our willingness to let go of what we know in favor of something perhaps much less familiar but far more positive and even necessary. Embracing change to become happy, healthy individuals is often surprisingly threatening, not only to us but to our family and friends who may not understand what all of this change ultimately means. That will pass as they see what you are doing for yourself and that it isn't a threat to them. It will also pass for you. As you work at it and make progress, even tiny increments, you will feel more sure of yourself and the forward momentum will gain speed. So, let's talk about the three types of change...

First Order
Second Order
Third Order

First order: You are reacting to the environment around you. This is not proactive. In this phase, there is no taking responsibility for the state or course of your health, well-being, etc. The mindset here is "the victim" and we all know what that is. Whether we recognize it in ourselves, past or present, we have almost all certainly seen it in someone else. Everything that has happened to us or is happening is because of someone or something else and there are no decisions being made.

Example: I hate my body and I am stuck feeling sick and unhappy all the time. This is just how it is.
Second order: This next level is when something vital has shifted that allows us to take in more information about our situation. Perhaps a breaking point has been reached. Reactivity to our environment drops. You begin to consider that by integrating the new input into your life, you can make positive impacts. This is where change begins and the key word here is "integrative".
Example: I can like my body more, feel healthier, and be happier if I make these changes.

Third order: We have integrated the new ideas and change has and is occurring. We have kept up with the hard work to see results and now we have them and are transformed. Our beliefs about ourselves have changed and breakthroughs are happening. Life has changed and will continue to change...for the better. The word here is "transformative".

Example: I am doing good things for myself and my quality of life has improved.

The three orders of change can be viewed as a tool to assess where you are and where you want to be. Expand your comfort zone, research and integrate positive protective factors into your life. It is common sense that the more healthy, life sustaining elements you add, the better off that you will be. Your best strategy for success is to be aware of the areas of your life that need your attention and must be addressed to get the results that you are looking for. This might even include asking ourselves what our worldview is that creates our very individual reality, what are our core beliefs  that are at the root of the decisions that have gotten us where we are. Self knowledge is super important!

Where does a massage therapist fit into all of this? So many of my clients are STRESSED OUT, combatting chronic pain, or don't like their bodies very much. There is a disconnect because, in all of the aforementioned cases, they are unhappy with themselves on some level or another. Massage really does help change that. It decreases the stress response, can help manage chronic pain syndromes, and reconnects us with our bodies in a positive way because that is the magic of respectful, healing touch. So, yeah, get a massage! It will be one of the positive elements that can change your life especially if you do it on a regular basis.

Also, mantras are a simple means of hitting the reset button on your thought patterns. Find one that clicks with you and use it often. Change it when it stops working and find the new words that you need. Your needs will change over time. I like to journal my mantras as well as saying them. Getting creative and painting them might be something that you'd enjoy.

Exercise within your abilities and within the range that your doctor is cool with. Exercise has a number of benefits provided your aren't injuring yourself. I have a membership at Planet Fitness that I love. It works for me better than exercising at my house. I also have a yoga practice that I love and I recommend yoga to everyone. Yogis and massage therapists tend to go hand in hand.

De-clutter your house! It will ease depression, and lower chronic stress levels. It worked for me and it can for you, too. There are a lot of ways to get this done but one of the best that I have found is getting a Facebook group that is dedicated to this. The before and after pictures along with their stories are the best motivator that I have found.

Help others! It's a fact that a "helpers high" exists. Not only do we feel good when we help other people but it also moves us into a mindset of gratitude. Find a cause that you feel passionate about but not one that stresses you. I have a pretty tough rule about refusing to stay in toxic situations and that includes volunteer situations that are volatile.

Find something that gives you purpose and direction. You may already have this but maybe not. If you don't, then find it. From personal experience I can tell you that finding that purpose, that thing that stokes your passion, is pivotal and necessary for positive change. It keeps you from just floating along, something that I once found myself doing.

These are all just suggestions and I can only speak for what has worked for me. I have completely changed my life in the last few years and it has become better and richer for those changes. I still have things to do, areas to improve, projects to complete but I know that I have the ability to do those things now where three years ago, definitely five years ago, I did not. As a massage therapist, the only thing that I can really speak with authority about is massage. As a person with their own struggles, I can speak to you as a friend. I hope you find this post useful and that it is received in the spirit of friendship. Namaste, my friends.

Any feedback that you would like to leave would be awesome. This article is not meant to diagnose, psychoanalyze or anything else along those lines.

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