By John Smith
Most people have at some point expressed the desire for some form of change in one or more areas in their lives. However, making the commitment to do what is necessary to effect the desired change is something few are willing to do. Most would like their circumstances and situations to change, but few are willing to take full responsibility for their lives and make the necessary changes within themselves. In your personal experience, how many people do you know that you can truly say have taken full responsibility for their lives, including their mistakes and failures, as opposed to blaming others and playing the victim? Why is it that so many people would rather continue being miserable in some area of their lives, rather than take responsibility and do what is necessary to bring about change?
This article is devoted to those who are not only desirous of change, but are also willing to take responsibility and commit themselves to the mechanics of the process of change. I want to share some information that has helped me greatly on my personal journey towards change.
Let us look at three issues that play an important role in the process of change.
- Our number one enemy is ignorance.
- Our number one obstacle is our conditioning.
- Our number one challenge is commitment.
Let us consider the first point - our number one Enemy - Ignorance.
Ignorance is not an indication of someone’s intelligence or mental ability, but merely a lack of knowledge in a specific area. I have discovered that most people are ignorant when it comes to knowing and understanding the basic universal laws and principles that govern and determine our experience of life. This was the case for most of my adult life. (Refer to the article “Universal Laws that govern your experience of Life”.) Life is not merely a set of random events that happen to us, over which we have little or no control, but is governed by very specific laws with inherent principles. Knowing, understanding and correctly implementing these laws will enable me to influence the outcome of my life, to a degree far greater than what most people believe is possible. As long as I remain ignorant of these laws, I will never accomplish change or improvement in any area of my life and as a result will continue to feel out of control.
Unfortunately, there is no way of acquiring this knowledge other than making an effort to obtain the information and then committing to reading and studying. Again, not many people are willing to commit themselves to learning what needs to be done to effect the desired change in their lives. The saying, “Ignorance is bliss” is one of the biggest lies that has ever been propagated. The saying, “People perish for a lack of knowledge” is far more accurate. Ignorance keeps people in bondage to that which they most desire to be free of. The truth is that ignorance is a self-inflicted disease (of a mental nature), as knowledge has never been more freely available and accessible than now. The only reason for ignorance is rejecting knowledge, by not actively acquiring it. It is quite amazing how most people who are not willing to take the responsibility to gain the necessary knowledge to make the desired changes in their lives are usually the ones who demand change from others, their environment and in their circumstances. It is time that we start treating ignorance as the enemy it really is and eliminate it by acquiring the knowledge we need to improve our quality of life.
There are few things as liberating as discovering the “truth that makes you free”. Interestingly the biblical reference from where this saying originates does not say, “You will hear the truth, and the truth will make you free”, but, “You will know the truth...” My personal philosophy is that hearing or reading something once means I know about it. Hearing or reading something 10 times means I start to think about it. Hearing or reading something 20 times means I start to believe it. It is only after this progression from hearing to knowing to thinking to believing that the knowledge will benefit me, provided that this knowledge is truth that empowers me. Otherwise I may have gained knowledge, but will remain ignorant.
Let us now consider the second point - our number one Obstacle - Conditioning.
It is important to understand the difference between learning and conditioning. Learning implies the active search for information and then acquiring knowledge of this information through reading and studying. Conditioning on the other hand implies the knowledge we acquire through what we unconsciously absorb via the five senses, particularly during our formative years. While learning is conscious and active, with a degree of evaluation of the veracity of the information, conditioning is mostly unconscious and passive with little or no evaluation. Most of our conditioning has been acquired from our parents, teachers and peers. Unfortunately, for most us, the bulk of our conditioning has been disempowering and harmful, mostly based on tradition and superstition as opposed to truth. As a result, many people live in the prison of their past conditioning; merely perpetuating what they have been conditioned to believe is true without questioning.
It is only once we start questioning our beliefs and mindsets that we realise how much of what we have been conditioned to believe has disempowered and even harmed us. Few of us have ever questioned our conditioning and even fewer are even aware of the role that conditioning has been playing in the outcome of our lives. The danger about conditioning is that it forms our belief systems at a subconscious level, meaning that we are not necessarily consciously aware of them. Only when we start to realise that our conditioning has been ruling our lives, we start to look at our current reality and life experience, we start to pay attention to what comes out of our mouths and we start to pay attention to how we react to challenges, do we catch a glimpse of the quality and power of our conditioning.
I have made reference to the word “truth” a few times. What do we mean by truth? How do we know when something is the truth? In essence the word “truth” implies correctness and veracity, something that can be proven or verified. If what I think and believe is empowering and benefiting me, it has to be the truth. If what I think and believe is disempowering and harming me, it cannot be the truth. Furthermore, it is important to realise and understand that each of us has a resource inside of us by which we can measure whether or not what we hear is the truth. Information that is based on truth will always resonate within us, almost on a spiritual level. It may the first time that we encounter certain information, and it may even be in conflict with our conditioned beliefs, but deep inside there will be a sense that this is the truth. Someone once said that you will “know inside your knower”. When we start to rely more on this intuitive sense and less on simply believing what we take in through the five senses, we will soon start to notice a shift our consciousness (thoughts, beliefs and attitude), and as a result experience a shift in our reality (our life experience).
It is important to understand that there is no way in which we can directly deal with and change our disempowering and harmful conditioning other than consciously and deliberately acquiring knowledge, and through reading and studying start to change the way we think and as a result start to change our beliefs and ultimately our conditioning.
Finally, let us consider the third point - our number one Challenge – Commitment.
I mentioned earlier that although most people desire change in one or more areas of their lives, few are willing to commit themselves to what it takes to effect the change. Why are so many people hesitant to commit themselves? I believe the number one reason for fear of commitment is the fear of failure. This fear reveals conditioned beliefs that say, “I cannot do it” or “I am not worthy of a better quality of life”. I once read some statistics that stated that only three people out of every hundred are willing to make any commitment to do what is necessary to bring about change in their lives. Only one out of every thousand sticks to their commitment and make the desired changes. Looking at the state of the world and the condition of people’s lives in general, I believe these statistics to be realistic.
The majority of people would rather look for a “quick fix” than commit themselves to a process to effect change. For example, people would rather try and improve their health by taking medication instead of committing themselves to a lifestyle of healthy eating and exercise. The truth is that there is no possibility of change or success without commitment. When working with clients, before we embark on any kind of programme or process, I always make sure that they understand that the only commitment they really need to make to succeed is to themselves. No-one else is responsible for them and they are not accountable to anyone else in the process of effecting change. Our mantra is “my level of success is directly and solely determined by my level of commitment to myself”. Unless I remain from start to finish, I have not been committed. Even finishing eighty five percent of the programme or process means I have not been committed. Until I can deal with the issue of commitment, there is no point in starting any programme or process for change as I will continue to sabotage my own efforts. Nobody was born with a natural aptitude for commitment. It is something that we need to develop ourselves. While there are some people that appear to have more will-power than others, commitment is something that each of us has to cultivate – being willing to pay the price and say no to potential distractions.
In conclusion, the only way I can hope to be successful in any endeavour, is to do the following:
- Ensure that I acquire the correct, true and empowering knowledge to know what to do. True knowledge empowers me
- Embark on changing my disempowering and harmful conditioning by reconditioning my thinking and beliefs with the implementation of this knowledge.
- Learn to practise commitment to myself by taking full responsibility for any change I desire to effect in my life.
It is not a question of ability as much as it is a question of will. I can do what I will to do.