We’ve all heard how most people who win the lottery lose all their winnings. What goes wrong? Surely we would do better?
Actually, our bodies really don’t like change and work against it at a cellular level. If you want to make a significant change in your life and don’t want to be a victim of self-sabotage here’s what is happening and the sneaky steps you must take to make change stick.
For years I struggled to make changes, and it seemed hit and miss as to whether I succeeded or not. Then I listened to an explanation about the biology of change by Ben Harvey, co-founder of Authentic Education (which trains coaches, speakers and online educators).
It gave me a huge ‘ah-ha’ moment. It explained how the processes I learnt in my coaching course actually work and gave me huge clarity about how to be in charge of the process.
How to really make a change that sticks
In this post I start by teaching you what is going on so you don’t waste your effort on things that won’t work. Then, once you understand what’s going on I’ll show you the easy steps you need to take to get the outcome you want every time.
Here’s my take on it (usual disclaimer – I am not a neuroscientist plus I like concepts but get bored with the detail…)
Understand you’re not as in control as you might think
The fundamental thing to understand is that although most of us like to think we are rational beings with our minds controlling our bodies, in reality it’s more of a two-way street.
In fact, our bodies, at the cellular level, have a life-and-death stake in the decisions we make.
It turns out that:
- our emotional states have very specific chemical mixes associated with them
- our bodies are made up of a host of cells all being born, living and dying with different life cycles
- cells are pretty much addicted to the mix in place when they were generated.
This means, for example, if you’re often anxious, many of your cells pretty much love to wallow in anxiety chemicals.
Then if you suddenly win some cash, or land a dream job or a gorgeous partner, it might make you happy; however, if the change is too great your cells become starved of the chemicals they need to exist.
Eventually, they fight for their lives and you suddenly do something you really didn’t mean to. You self-sabotage all the way back to your previous resting state. YOU mightn’t be happy, but your cells absolutely are.
Your biology rejects change if it causes a change in emotional state (even a nice one) because your cells are addicted to your current emotional chemistry.
That’s why people so often fail in their intentions and repeat their past over and over.
People often fail to change because our cells are addicted to the chemical cocktail of our current emotions. They’ll work against anything that affects that.
The fool-proof process for lasting change
Thinking back on one of the times I DID manage a major change, I happened to follow a process with the elements I now understand are absolutely essential, and which I can now deliberately put into place when I want.
So for me, in my 20s, drama had been an integral part of my relationships and I remember when I met my now husband how wrong the relationship felt because it was light and funny.
Thankfully, having come out of a pretty *crap* relationship, intellectually I was very committed to something new. I realised I had to choose something different if I didn’t want to end up living the same story over and over.
So, I persisted in spending time with this new guy in spite of that out-of-sync feeling.
Eventually my cells got used to the new feelings – fun and joy – and swapped their addiction over from drama – and we’ve now been together for over 20 years.
So here’s the outrageously simple process you need to follow next time you want to make a change that will stick. The crux of it is that instead of going for your goal all out, you need to sneak up on those spoil-sport cells.
The steps are actually pretty simple: all you need is persistence to do them over and over. Here’s how it works.
Create the perfect new emotional cocktail
The aim here is to imagine the result you are trying to achieve and, crucially, the emotion you want it to deliver.
For example, if you’re looking to double your income what is the emotion that’s driving you to that goal? Is it the desire to feel confident … free … relaxed … excited … or something else? You need to:
- Decide what the change will mean for you – how it will make you feel
- Think of a time you felt something similar, multiply the feeling as much as you can and hold it for a few minutes as intensely as possible.
- Regularly spend time in this desired future. For at least 30 days, three times a day, spend some time deep in imagining the new place you want to be.
In those minutes you spend in this mental space, the cells that are born are dedicated to the new chemical cocktail and will support your desired future state.
The more time you spend in that feeling, the more the cells that are born loving it. Then, if you do this consistently, day by day the number of happy-loving cells increases until one day you reach a tipping point where more cells support the new emotional cocktail than the old.
Suddenly, your body is working at a cellular level to keep this chemistry around and you will instinctively start making decisions that are likely to make that feeling last.
This is the mechanism at work when people start wearing a suit to try and get a promotion. The suit serves as a constant reminder of where they want to be and helps them feel as though it’s already happened. It would also work if they just imagined themselves wearing the suit and feeling confident. Cells are born liking that chemical mix.
So write your dream on a piece of paper and carry it with you, set phone reminders to stop and do your thinking – three times a day. Make it as emotional and realistic as possible. Know that if you do the work, change is inevitable and you won’t self-sabotage when opportunities come your way as your body will be eager for the new state. Your desired future will become a reality.
Can you relate? What’s a big change you made deliberately and how did you go about it? Share with a comment below.
Links: Cell Yourself – The Power of Cellular Alignment https://www.authentic.com.au/store/cell-yourself/