How to make positive change in your life that lasts!
Did you know the human brain is naturally wired to reject change? Many people tell me they embrace and love change but I can prove them wrong.
On an intellectual level you may believe you accept and even chase change but on an emotional and biological level your body is pushing against the change, fighting to maintain the status quo.
Don’t believe me? Try this little exercise then…
Cross your arms in front your body like you would normally fold your arms comfortably. Now unfold them and cross them the other way with the other arm on top. Feels weird right?
How long did you last before you wanted to cross them back the way you normally would? See the brain is resistant and strong neurological patterns have already formed that you are fighting against every time you make a new choice, break a habit, start a new change.
Still not convinced? Did you know researchers tracking thought waves found that all humans naturally resist change? That’s why the old saying “we’ve always done it this way” is so common, it just feels good to our brain.
Which is why common sense and logic won’t convince you to lose the weight, give up coffee, get out of bed an hour earlier each day. Our brain and body are hugely resistant to change. More than you can imagine. We like the status quo. We like our habits and routines. We like predictability.
Statistically speaking intelligence explains only about 20 per cent of how well you do in life; much of the other 80 per cent comes down to emotional intelligence (EQ). EQ is a skill that’s so important that 90 per cent of top performers in the world have high EQs, and people with high EQs make more money and have more success and happiness generally than those with low EQs.
The hallmark of emotional intelligence is self-awareness, which involves not just knowing how you are but also how other people perceive you. People with high emotional intelligence are masters of influence—they’re skilled at altering their behaviour to adapt and make the most of a given situation.
I love social experimenting. I remember in the days when I was a corporate refugee and I would commute on the train for 2 hours morning and night. It was a great place to observe and test my theories of human behaviour. The regular commuters all had their regular seats, their morning rituals and standard greetings.
I boarded at one of the earliest stops so it was easy for me to muck them all up. I’d sit in a regular commuters seat, change my behaviours and greetings. You should have seen their faces contort when they realised ‘their’ seat was taken.
Despite there being another 30 or so available seats in ‘their’ carriage, the discomfort for some of them was overwhelming. Some would stand and stare at me, their brain unable to compute what was happening until eventually they found their legs again and were able to shuffle forward into another position.
Some scowled and muttered curses under their breath as if their entire day had been ruined by this cheery woman beaming at them. Others had no qualms in standing angrily and telling me to move as I was in “their seat”. How fascinating.
You might not be able to alter your genetics, but there are some proven strategies that can help you embrace change better and more confidently so the changes stick. Some of these strategies seem arbitrary, but research shows they make a massive difference. Here’s a couple of tips to help you get change savvy:
1 . Believe in yourself
Nothing convinces the brain a change is good quite like confidence. When you believe in yourself, it shows, and research shows that believing in yourself improves your performance on cognitive tasks.
Self-doubt, on the other hand, impairs your performance. What’s worse is that not only your own unconscious mind but other people’s pick up on this doubt, which makes the change less likely to stick. If you want to make a change work, you have to believe in yourself.
2. Communicate expressively
Communication expert Leonard Mlodinow makes the case that even if two people say exactly the same thing, the one who says it most expressively will be perceived as being smarter. “If two speakers utter exactly the same words, but one speaks a little faster and louder and with fewer pauses and greater variation in volume, that speaker will be judged to be more energetic, knowledgeable, and intelligent.”
Talk to yourself with mantras and recorded messages, share your dreams and goals with others with passion and enthusiasm, your subconscious is always listening. Emotions trump logic every time.
The emotional content of a message is communicated non-verbally so having body language expertise is crucial to make your change work. Not only must you be able to use your body language to communicate your desire but you must also be able to read the non-verbal signals of stress and resistance in others to see whether your change message is believable.
What energy are you putting out there? It matters. Be change smart, raise your energy, your mood and your gestures and watch your changes stick! #startwithU
Heidi Alexandra Pollard xx