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I’m presently knee deep in writing and research for my upcoming book, The Change Manifesto.
Over the last twenty years I have built my own framework for creating positive change, which I will share in my book. To add to this knowledge, I’m reading other books to see what research shows is necessary to make big changes in your life.
One of the interesting concepts I learned recently is the idea that you need to relate to other people as you go through a change process.
For example, Alcoholics Anonymous, which creates an environment where everyone going through the program share and support each other to give up alcohol.
One of the stories I read involved a woman who was addicted to alcohol for most of her adult life. She saw drinking as a way to ‘solve’ her problems, or at least cope with them.
Imagining a life without drinking was near-impossible for her, so for a long time, she never sought help.
When she finally entered the Alcoholics Anonymous program one of the most profound changes came from how she viewed her drinking.
Instead of seeing drinking as a solution or a salve for her problems, she started to see alcohol AS the problem itself.
This reframe was something she simply couldn’t reach by herself.
First, she needed the idea to be presented to her, to create the awareness of a new way to look at the source of her problems.
That, however, still wasn’t enough.
The real change occurred because of the shared therapy she experienced with all the other people in the Alcoholics Anonymous program.
She needed to hear the stories, see inside the lives of other addicts, and watch them go through their own healing process, in order to change her beliefs about drinking.
I grew up a shy introvert. Most of the big changes I worked on as a teenager and then in my early twenties were attempted solo.
Needless to say, my progress was SLOW. In fact, many of my goals I never reached.
As I grew older, I started to see the value in spending time with other people who have similar goals.
You don’t necessarily need to be a part of organized programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, but having an opportunity to relate to other people’s problems, experiences, and stories, serves as a tool to galvanize your own determination to change.
I remember when I first met my friend Jay Jay. We were both single guys at the time and both very motivated to improve our dating lives.
Jay Jay and I began to do something I rarely did by myself — we began talking to strangers, in particular, attractive female strangers.
Meeting new people became our modus operandi. We didn’t meet up just to have tea or eat lunch, we met up to do these things AND talk to new people who happened to be lucky enough to be around us.
Jay Jay and I had a lot of fun during this time. We pushed each other, watched and laughed as we sometimes crashed and burned when talking to a stranger, and other times walked away with phone numbers from pretty girls after having fun conversations.
These experiences were great, but what was truly amazing was how much this process impacted the rest of my life.
By working through a process together, Jay Jay helped me make a permanent change to how I behaved in general.
Even when by myself, I started to make talking to strangers just something I did. Previously, this was something I never did and was a real sticking point in my life.
I can honestly say if it wasn’t for experiences with Jay Jay and some of my other guy friends at the time, I doubt I would have gone through this powerful change that raised my confidence… and led to lots of dates!
If you’re currently working on a big change in your life, and you’re doing it in isolation, you should look at how you can involve someone or other people in your process.
Even if you’re shy and introverted as I was, you will benefit from just small interactions with people who share your goals.
While not necessarily great in groups, introverts are very good in situations where you form a deep bond with just one person.
If you’re not an introvert, then you won’t have any problems with the idea of involving other people in your change process. You’re probably actively talking about what you’re doing already!
What is important is that you involve the RIGHT people.
In order to help make a change occur in your life, the people you relate with must also relate to the problem you have.
They have to know and feel what it’s like to be where you are because they are going through the process themselves. It’s the sharing of the process that matters.
Even if you feel like you’re constantly failing, the sharing of failure is valuable — it’s just as important as sharing success.
The benefit of relating to others as you go through a powerful change process applies just as well to giving up alcohol, as it does to approaching strangers, losing weight, or starting a new business.
Don’t go it alone.