The Secret to Effective Change


Three weeks ago I was returning home from dog walks with my golden retriever Libby with raw, aggravated blisters across the middle of my fingers. Having been away for two months she’d become familiar with a more lackadaisical style of dog walking, on a regular collar and lead.  I was finding that she was dragging me around the neighborhood rather than walking calmly by my side. “Try this collar,” my dog-trainer neighbor offered. It was part chain. I adopted her stricter invitation to walk Libby, trying to walk with a determined and imposing posture, steady walking pace, shoulders back and down my back. Every time Libby would pull me forward I’d follow my neighbors example and snap, “Heel!” jerking the chain toward my side.

I should have listened to my intuition because it felt all wrong. It didn’t feel consistent with my gentle, sensitive spirit.  Nor Libby’s, for that matter. If our feelings take a nose-dive like this, it really is our internal indictor trying to grab our attention and tell us, no, this is not our way, we’re way off-center!

Walking Libby in this new constrained manner was a battle of wills rather than an experience that should be an anticipated daily routine for us both, like it was pre-Europe. And, truth be told, it wasn’t very effective either. She resisted the tension, apparently missing the sense of freedom she’d once enjoyed and no doubt detecting my ambiguous feelings towards it too.

After a couple of unsuccessful walks with the part-chain collar I took it off once and for all and slid back her harness which enveloped her whole torso. Understandably she’s much happier walking with this. Instead of choking and restricting her around the neck it embraces and supports her body so a gentle heel tug is distributed throughout her entire body, not concentrated on just her neck. I had hated hearing her breathing become labored from a heel tug, or even just the natural resistance of her faster walking pace than mine. Now, with the harness, she quite beautifully trots beside me. There’s slack on the lead as I hold it cross-body and loosely. Only occasionally will I have to remind Libby to heel (and usually only when we were changing direction) and when I do she willingly takes the cue and resumes her spot back beside me.

So once I changed me, my approach and adopted a more compassionate and accommodating style of walking her, she responded positively and slowed her pace. We met in the middle, once I had first extended a kindlier method. No more blisters since but best of all, a happy dog and satisfying walks again for us both.

This experience reminds me of the old familiar adage, you catch more flies with honey. Trying to force and coerce others into change is nigh impossible, especially when its a behavior that they don’t deem is even necessary to alter. The only option available to us is to change us, and our approach to that person.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Leo Tolstoy

When we attempt to force, blackmail or bully a loved-one they often feel stifled and trapped, even when our intentions are quite apparently for their well-being. If they have little choice they may change their behavior but it won’t come from the all-important internal them, which is the only real source of permanent change. It’ll come instead from a surface space of duress and so very likely the change will be temporary at best.

What we resist persists.

If we push another, its their automatic instinct to resist against that pressure and apply an equal amount of resistance back towards us.

The law of resistance teaches us that whatever we resist, resent, wrangle with and give center stage to in the mind will become sticky and therefore attracted to manifest in our experience. For example, the law of attraction does not discriminate between ‘I want him to stop smoking’ or ‘I want him to continue smoking,’ it just hears ‘smoking’ and will in effect say, ‘Roger that, ok, I’ll bring more smoking into your experience.’ Ensure that you evade this law of resistance by ushering your mind back to what it does want, and thus clearly inviting this into your physical world.

Can we manifest for others? No. But we can protect what shows up in our life by channeling our thoughts and energies into the things that we do have control over. So imagine relishing a peaceful and harmonious relationship, which will residually affect the way we view and communicate in our relationship. This new love-centered approach to the loved-one we wish to have a positive effect on, fostered by our positive visualizations of how we’d like our relationship to look, may well trickle down into the banks of their consciousness and activate a response in them to see us and our opinion in a more favorable light.

As we saw with Libby, once we stop pushing others into a certain behavior pattern but backdrop our actions with love and support in their stead then they are more inspired to change. But this time the change is coming from them, and so it has the potential to be lasting or an internal and intrinsic shift.

(Of course sometimes our loved-ones are stubborn and determined in their course, whether we approve or not. And we have to learn to relinquish our righteousness and let them journey along their chosen path. Its hard, especially as we forecast them careering towards hurt, irreversible health issues or danger but we cannot force our will on another’s life, at least, not once they are of a certain age.  Nor should we. At times like these the serenity prayer is an aloe to our stinging fear for that person, ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.’ You can change the word ‘God’- or omit it- to suit your own belief system. Nevertheless it still serves as a apt reminder to give our energies to those things we do have power over which, in fact, is ourselves).

Sometimes life is about letting go of the reins and inviting some slack into not only our relationships with those we care about but ourselves, too.

Clenching and forcing and coursing a blinkered, unrelenting direction for our lives can seize up our ability to experience and enjoy the scenery of our journey. So let go and allow yourself to sit back and enjoy the ride.

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Let’s be gentle with our self and those who enrich our hearts. We’ll notice that once we do we will feel expanded and open and available to see what may have been missed before on our white-knuckled, tunnel-visioned course. Its these fresh insights which could make all the difference in healing our issue.

Glance into your own life. Is there someone you’re trying to change, including yourself? How are you choosing to do so? Is this method consistent with good feelings or in conflict? If the latter, can you vision another approach that would imbue you with better feelings?

Namaste, Bright Sider!





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