In a recent conversation with a leading psychologist she commented that she had met a number of people that had demonstrated a real serenity. A genuine inner calm. They all had very different cultures and backgrounds, but they did have one thing in common – they had experienced a significant hardship in their life. Some had suffered a life threatening illness, some experienced physical dislocation from family and friends, a few had actually been in prison or detention, whilst quite a few had a experienced a period of significant economic hardship despite the exterior of a comfortable middle class existence. I found this fascinating and to go through such a valley of darkness and to emerge with real light, is indeed a miracle. Most can only imagine the psychological pain, courage and perseverance that it must take to transform yourself through these toughest environments. However, it does highlight the ability of human character and psyche to respond with change when in a harsh reality and there is still obviously some validity in the idea that a tough and direct challenge brings the jolt needed for reformation. So what can the rest of us learn from these remarkable people who have managed to build inner resourcefulness to not just survive, but grow in such a tough reality? What can this teach the rest of us about the change process?
My own experiences would suggest some key ingredient as follows:
> The need to build the self worth to believe in your change agenda even through the toughest of realities.
> Acknowledge but don’t follow the fear emanating from your nervous systems and get on with a routine of life despite what you feel.
> Finding just enough support to get encouragement and feedback in a world increasingly barren of empathy and heart driven connection.
So to honour the people who have changed through the toughest environments, this 10 step process is offered to you to try out. It will only take 20 min of your time:
1. Describe the nature of the current hardship in your work or personal life.
2. Now list 3 ways that this hardship can really serve you and your future.
3. Write a very short story of this hardship reframing it as an opportunity, however don’t ignore the struggle.
4. Visualise yourself at the end, having experienced the whole journey.
5. Now think about 2 new routines that are required to give this change and growth a chance. Keep the processes short (under 30 min).
6. What challenges are naturally going to arise?
7. Write down how you would normally respond to each of these, and then think about a better response.
8. Make a mental note to respect your concerns and apprehension and to also get along with things. Thank your nervous system for working so well.
9. List 2 people who can genuinely support you through this adverse response.
10. Write an email inviting them into your change process.