I am a people-watcher. I have worked with people now, as a pastor and as a Christian leader, for over 50 years. And, I am amazed how little people change. Many times I see people decide that they need to change something in their life – an action, a relationship, the way they relate to others, their basic self-defeating lifestyle, or some addiction they have. But, other than vocalizing that they realize they need to change – change never happens.
A lot of leaders teach that people change when they hurt enough that they have to change, learn enough that they want to change, receive enough that they are able to change. It sounds good but I have not found it to be true in most situations. Let’s look at these three points realistically …
- Hurt enough – It seems that many people have a very high tolerance for pain. I have seen individuals continue a hurtful habit like drug addiction and continue using more and more drugs even though they are hurting. Eventually dying and not changing and getting free
- Learn enough – I know people who are seriously well educated and “know better.” Yet, they continue in a harmful behaviour in spite of their knowledge and understanding
- Receive enough – People can receive lots of love and compassion from God’s people and friends and yet not change. This is especially true of those who see themselves as ‘victims’
The first key to changing is to simply recognize that you are responsible for your own life. No one can cause you to change. No one can keep you from changing. You are responsible for you. Others can help you change once you have decided that enough is enough and so desire to change. And, other, if you let them, can hinder the changes you need to make. But, you are responsible for changing you.
The second key that I have discovered is that hope is the foundational principle for all change. People change when they have hope, and if people do not have hope, they will not change.
The good news? You can change your life if you really want to. You can improve it, make it better. And it all starts with changing the way you think so that you are living with hope for the future.
Here’s how you give yourself a little hope:
Step 1: When you change your thinking, you change your beliefs.
Change begins with the mind. Beliefs are nothing more than a byproduct of what you have thought about long enough, something that you have bought into—always remember that.
What you believe, what you think, is just a collection of continual thoughts that have formed themselves into a conviction. When you break down the process of thinking into a manageable number of steps, you reduce the perceived risk associated with change. So, it is important to ask yourself questions like: “Why do I think that?” “Who says that it has to be that way?” “What does God have to say about this issue in my life?”
The Bible states that “as a person thinks, so they become.”
Step 2: When you change your beliefs, you change your expectations.
Belief is the knowledge that we can do something. It is the inner feeling that what we undertake, we can accomplish. For the most part, all of us have the ability to look at something and know whether we can do it. We either believe we can do it or we believe we cannot do it.
So in belief there is power… our eyes are opened, our opportunities become plain, our visions become realities. Our beliefs control everything we do. If we believe we can or we believe we cannot, we are correct. So, as you change the way you are thinking and thus what you believe, you are then able to change what you are expecting. You live with a positive approach to what is possible.
Step 3: When you change your expectations, you change your attitude.
Your expectations are going to determine your attitude. Most people get used to average; they get used to second best. The get use to life as it is and thus don’t even attempt to change their circumstances and situation. Nelson Boswell said, “The first and most important step toward success is the expectation that we can succeed.” The same is true for making major foundational changes in your life. Your attitude about yourself, who you are, and what you can accomplish need to change. Your attitude towards change will be positive when your attitude towards life changes.
Step 4: When you change your attitude, you change your behaviour.
When our attitude begins to change, when we begin to see things in a positive light and grasp the potential that is inside us for permanent and positive change – then and only then does our behaviour begin to change.
Step 5: When you change your behaviour, you change your performance.
Most people would rather live with old problems instead of new solutions. We would rather be comfortable than correct; we would rather stay in a routine than make changes. Even when we know that the changes are going to be good for us, we often don’t make them because we feel uncomfortable or awkward about making that kind of a change. Until we get courage and get used to living with something that is not at first comfortable, we cannot get any better. We will not being change to our way of life.
Step 6: When you change your performance, you change your life.
It is easier to turn failure into success than an excuse into a possibility. A person can fail, turn around and understand their failure, learn the lessons that are within the failure and thus make it a success. But I want to tell you, a person who makes excuses for everything will never truly change or succeed in life. Don’t you know some people who just have an excuse for everything? Why they could not, should not, did not, would not, have not, will not.
I promise you, when you excuse what you are doing, excuse where you are, and thus who you are – positive change will never happen and you will fail to reach your potential. It is impossible to turn excuses into possibilities and positive change.
So, people change when…