Get Ready for Change4 min read

On the path of outgrowing your conditioned self and becoming your aspirational self, you will likely face some fear of the known.

Are you willing to let go of the security of the known and temporarily inhabit the limbo state of the unknown? If you want to reach for the skies, you must be willing to let go of the security of the ground—at least for the time being, until you find a higher ground.

  • The seed needs to die into the earth in order to become a mighty tree.
  • The caterpillar needs to “die” as a caterpillar in order to become a butterfly.
  • The boy needs to die as a boy so he can be reborn as a man.

You can only be reborn as your new self after you die as your old self. So the courage of letting go, and the faith that there is something better on the other side, are key elements to this process.

This is important because your old identity, with its limiting beliefs and negative emotional patterns, has tremendous momentum. You have believed it, affirmed it, and even fiercely protected it for years. So while you are shifting to your aspirational identity, your conditioned identity will continue to exist for some time, and you will need to know how to overcome its pull.

The following three exercises will help you get ready for that.

Facing the Worst

This exercise invites you to look at the worst-case scenario, to see how bad it really is and to plan for contingencies.

  • List all the resistances you have about adopting your aspirational identity. Be as specific as possible.
  • Then go through each of those fears and address the following questions.
  • How likely is it for this to happen? Attribute a percentage to it.
  • From one to ten, how bad would it be if it does happen?
  • If it happens, what can I do to fix it, recover from it, or minimize the pain?
  • If it happens, is a blessing hidden somewhere in there?
  • What are the boons of overcoming this fear and completing the journey?
  • Am I happy to let this fear stop me from experiencing those benefits?

Know that you can always easily get back to the conditioned identity. So there is no reason to fear!

Black and White Clarity

There are two possible versions of your future self, and you get to choose which one you want to feed, moment after moment. Every choice is a +1 or a -1

To make a +1 choice, it helps to see the sharp contrast between the two identities.

  • If you become your aspirational identity, your future will be your best possible life, driven by your values and aspirations.
  • If you continue to be your conditioned identity, your future will contain the emotional pain of disappointment, regret, and wasted potential.

When you are not super clear about this sharp contrast, you tend to hide in the middle, in the gray area.

You fall in the grey area because it takes less effort. It is less risky and less threatening. But your transformation, then, is only mild; you are kind of motivated, kind of confident, kind of happy, and kind of successful.

The grey area is the easy way out. It is you giving a chance for your conditioned self to feel satisfied with just getting a little bit better, instead of you becoming your aspirational self in all its glory. 

Which future do you want? Which person do you want to be?

Do you want to be a product of your environment, or do you want to be a creator?

[To go deeper, go through the full Black and White exercise in the free Mindful Self-Discipline Workbook.]

Exercise

Create a table like the one below and follow these steps to fill it out.

  • Step 1. If ten years from now, you are still carrying the same mental and emotional patterns, the same habits and limiting beliefs, what would you have or experience in each area of your life? Fill in the column on the left.
  • Step 2. Now think of your designed identity with its Power Words. Imagine that you have that new way of thinking, that new self-image, and those new strengths. What would you have or experience in the different areas of life?
  • Step 3. Compare the two columns. Let it sink in how different these two possibilities are for you. Allow this realization to fully motivate you.

Place your completed table in a place where you will see it often.

Transition Ritual

A ritual is a set of steps or actions that mark an event as significant and help us process a transition. Something important has happened, and now things have changed. We are not the same person as before.

Most major transitions in life—such as graduations, marriages, birthdays, moving homes, product launches, retirement, and funerals—include rituals with great meaning. There are also rituals for transferring power to a new president, honoring a war hero, or getting initiated into a spiritual tradition.

Why do we have these rituals? It’s because old environments and relationships may continue to invisibly pull you back, triggering negative emotions and reminding you of your conditioned way of being. We need to move on from old self to the new self, and rituals help us do so.

Therefore, have a ritual for the transition of your identity, to help make the shift concrete and to celebrate the new.

Here are some ideas.

  • Burning an object that symbolizes your old self
  • Deleting old files, emails, and photos
  • Getting a meaningful tattoo
  • Redecorating your office or bedroom
  • Starting a new class
  • Moving to a new home, city, or country
  • Writing a letter to yourself
  • Having a difficult conversation and closure with someone
  • Changing jobs, or even careers
  • Ending certain relationships
  • Going on a long retreat
  • Creating a radical change in your daily routine or lifestyle
  • Renewing your wardrobe
  • Getting a haircut (The Buddha did it!)

For a deeper dive into these concepts, see Chapter 7 of Wise Confidence.

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