How to Change Anything in Life?
Look at your “why” behind any behavior. The why is a belief you hold that influences that particular behavior. So, how do you change that? You change the belief.
Doubt, of course.
Deeply held beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world around us—including how things should or shouldn’t be/are/will be—guide our behavior.
Let’s say, I believe you guys enjoy hearing from me weekly. Therefore, I am going to write weekly. However, if I believed you hated hearing from me, how likely is it that I’d be reaching out?
Beliefs aren’t about other people, beings, and things. They exist within us. They guide how we live and can be both useful and not useful to us.
There are beliefs that are more pronounced (e.g. a person believes in a god, for example) and those that are a lot more subdued. However, they equally impact how we live.
Take another example.
Imagine you want to change a job, but you don’t believe you can get another one. That’s your belief. Whether it’s true (it’s not) or helpful to you (it’s not) doesn’t really matter. You’ll still feel stuck.
Your behavior will follow accordingly.
You may rationalize it by saying you’re too old, lack certain skills, don’t have the right connections, and ultimately choose to stay with the job you don’t fully enjoy anymore.
Unless, of course, you decide to change your belief.
By doubting it.
Like a chair, your belief is supported by legs. Now imagine you start kicking those legs ... soon enough, the chair would become wobbly and eventually break.
Same with your beliefs.
Break its building blocks by asking doubtful questions about it.
- Why do I believe I cannot get another job?
- Is this really true?
- Can I make it true?
- What if I could?
- Doesn’t my past experience (and the experience of others) demonstrate this?
- What if there’s a job I would be more suited for?
- What would an ideal job look like?
- What are the skills from current job that I could transfer to another one?
Or, let’s take another example.
Imagine you got invited to a wedding of a distant cousin, but you really didn’t want to go. In fact, you decided not to go but then found yourself feeling bad about it.
Did you do something bad? No. But your past beliefs about what you “should” or “shouldn’t do” make you feel bad about it.
How do you change that? Doubt it.
- Why do I believe I should do something that doesn’t make me happy?
- Would my relative really care that I didn’t come, or am I just being egotistical in thinking so?
- Whose belief is this?
- What is better: a truly thoughtful card/gift or my miserable presence?
- Is more important to me to be sincere (i.e. honor my feelings) or “proper” (i.e. attend even if I’ll hate it).
The more questions you ask, with an intent to doubt your particular belief, the more impactful your change will become.
For our third example, let’s say you believed you should become a lawyer, but after receiving a degree and maybe working in the field for a moment, you realize that’s not really for you. You feel bad and confused. Why? Your reality (i.e. the expression of your belief) didn’t match your belief (i.e. you’d love being a lawyer). What are some things you could ask?
- Why did I want to become a lawyer?
- Would I encourage someone I love to pursue whatever would make them happy even if that’s not what they studied?
- Isn’t it ok to study things because you enjoy them?
- Is it ok to change mind? (Yes, of course it is!)
Pick a belief you have right now that doesn’t serve you any longer and start asking questions. Here are some generic ones to use:
- Why do I believe this? Is it true?
- How is this belief serving me?
- Is there a different way of looking at it?
- Why not? What if there were?
- Would a different way offer me more pleasure?
And then, the action will follow.
BONUS: Two examples from my own life.
1. I used to say I could never give up eating meat. Then, I asked: “why not?” I’ve been mostly a vegetarian for two years now.
2. I used to be terrified of gym. I believed I could never really enjoy it. Due to an extremely busy schedule last week, I skipped gym two times. Guess what? I missed it!
Change IS possible!