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We often hear, when faced with someone who says “I’m going to change”, that “A leopard can’t change its spots”. It’s a well-meaning advisory with the implication that saying you’ll change is one thing, actually changing is another. Change is difficult to effect, and habits are hard to break, whether they’re chewing your nails or being unfairly critical of yourself. Here’s the thing, though: that analogy is kind of silly. You take the spots of leopard – that’s a result of skin pigmentation. Let’s implement this saying in a more literal manner to illustrate something: “John swears he’ll give up alcohol, but he can’t change. He can’t rearrange the moles on his shoulder, you know!” Blank stares. What does John’s ability to kick his boozy ways have to do with moles?

We use sayings all the time, and this one is used to demonstrate that people are incapable of change – that they’re preset, hardwired and it’s a foregone conclusion: John will talk about change, but he’ll still sell his Granny for three beers. Mary will swear she’ll get her act together, but she’ll still cheat. Here’s the thing, though – some behaviours are innate (instinctual behaviours you can’t change) and learned behaviours (this is the stuff you pick up from family, friends, society as a whole).

Learned behaviour does have he ability to be changed. Why am I getting caught up in all this? Because the person I am today is a heck of a lot different to who I was 18 months ago, and it’s due to not only a willingness to change, but predicated on a desire for things to not stay the same. I didn’t wake up one day, start skipping out of bed and in love with my fellow human. My process of change has been an evolution that has required a severe rewiring of my thoughts and actions, and it hasn’t finished yet.

So what’s changed? How has it changed? Why has it changed?

I realised it wasn’t you, it was me
You can hear it from friends, family, colleagues as often as they care to say it, but only you can grow the seeds of change until they flower. For me, I realised that I didn’t want to keep living my life the way it was. Work, home, the lot of it. I was unhappy, and to continue down this path would simply take time from myself and those that I cared about. The Universe could shift things around as much as possible, but if I wasn’t listening, then nothing would change. The onus was on me – with the love and support of my guides, angels, family and friends – to make a positive change.

I’m more grateful – I don’t take things for granted.
Oh my goodness I’m blessed. I’m certain that I still only have the smallest understanding of how blessed I am for the fact that I live in a first world country, my limbs work and I have a roof over my head. I’m grateful for family members and friends who have helped me when I arrived back in Australia with literally just a few dollars to my name. Before, I would have just assumed that everything would magically be taken care of – but I’ve seen how fast life can change, and I’m eternally grateful for any and all help I’ve received on my journey.

I choose to be positive
I start my days with positive thoughts, and I look for the best in situations. I’ve driven some friends to distraction with my seemingly endless positive quotes and inspirations on Facebook, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, because I also know that other friends love what I post and look forward to it. I’m not a mindless robot who only thinks happy thoughts – I’m human, and I get pissed at the people walking slowly in front of me, or the person who clearly has 12 things in the “10 Items Or Less” lane. What’s changed in the last year is that I realised that emotion for what it is, acknowledge it, accept it and let it go. I don’t hold it in then unleash it on someone else.

I surround myself with like minded people, and I had to “dump” some friends
Looking back, this has been a difficult but critical step. I held on to friendships because they were convenient, out of a sense of duty or because I didn’t want to break contact with someone. The change here has been due to a realisation that I’ve started on a different life path, and the values I now hold are different to those I was interacting with. This has been difficult, and some of my former friends didn’t understand – in fact, some of the friends I’ve held on to still don’t understand: “Why don’t you do X anymore?” “Why do you feel like you have to change?” Well, I was honest with myself, and I realised that I only have one life, and I may as we’ll spend it doing things I want to do – and I got tired of making “Yo’ Momma” jokes and being negative all the time.

Have I finished changing?
I don’t think so. In the last year, some things have changed, some have stayed the same. It’s an evolving cycle. There will be aspects of the change that I keep and some that don’t serve my best purpose, so when I reach that road, I’ll leave those parts behind me. Right now it’s about ensuring that I maintain the positive habits I’ve been cultivating – self-acceptance, kindness, listening to my intuition, doing my best to help others – and letting those seeds bloom.

Change is hard. It’s frightening. It’s constant, exhausting effort. It’s easy to slip back into old ways, comforting routines and give up. DON’T Everyone goes through challenging times. We lose love. We find trouble. We take chances that don’t pan out, we get frustrated with how things are working out. It’s ok. Don’t fear change, just work out where you are, where you want to be and what resources you need to get you there – self, family, friends, guides, professional counselling – whatever it takes. Keep you chin up, and understand you’ll get knocked down. It’s not how many times that you get knocked down, but how many times you get back up that helps you succeed.

As always, please feel free to email me: australianauraguy at g mail dot com, find me on Facebook, connect on Twitter, leave a comment – we’ll talk, we’ll laugh, whatever.

Keep doing awesome things!