Many people will have reflected upon previous year, made new year resolutions and/or decided for another reason they need change. Individually or collectively. This month, the Skilled Helpers Collaborative share their individual perspectives regarding the topic Change…
The Skilled Helpers Collaborative
The Skilled Helpers Collaborative is an initiative aiming to bring meaningful content to you. Various skilled helpers from different backgrounds sharing their perspectives regarding a specific topic.
Do you feel you need (a) change? Is it inevitable? Is it within your control? Do you even know what it is, you want to change? Should you? We hope this month’s chosen topic, and the insights provided, inspire you to Change. Or not ; -)
Read the articles below and if it resonates, let us know by leaving a comment.
Don’t hesitate to Connect with one of the Skilled Helpers, in case you could use guidance.
by Sukeshi Pandit Malhotra
Change is inevitable, change is constant – Benjamin Disraeli How often have you received this nugget of advice from a well-wisher or wisely quoted it to a friend? Yet, when it comes to brass tacks how often do we struggle with unfamiliar terrain and put up resistance instead of welcoming change with willing minds, open hearts & positive attitude? Why this inherent resistance to change?
Because, change is a challenge, a threat to status quo – it brings with it uncertainty, fear of the unknown, the need to venture out of our comfort zone, fear of failure and much more.
But all ‘change’ is not same – there are degrees and levels of change. Some changes demand life altering transformation, while others just require small alterations in our routines habits and behaviors. But a prerequisite for any type of change is an open mindset and the willingness to go with the flow.
I believed myself to be a fairly adaptable, flexible and change friendly person. The reason being that most of my life I have moved to a new city (many times changing countries and continents) every 4-5 years. As a kid it was my father’s profession and after growing up it was for my studies, career, and spouse’s profession, which took us to a new place every few years. Every move meant a new location, new people, and sometimes, new country, new culture and language…basically a fresh start.
When I was in elementary school I remember dreading the first few days at the new school, cause I had to walk into a classroom full of unknown kids who I assumed would dislike me. For a borderline introvert like me it was not always easy. And later in life the challenging part was reinventing my career a few times, over the years.
But somewhere along the line I learnt to adapt and the fear of being thrown among new people and situations every few years stopped being such a scary proposition. I learnt to go with the flow, so much so that I started looking forward to being in a new place for a new experience. I even named my desire for change – ‘my five year itch’, where I felt a boredom setting in after we had been in the same place for more than 4 years.
Then came a period over three-four years ago, when health challenges in the family made me relook at my attitude towards change. The feeling that I thrive on change was limited to situations, which were challenging but not adverse. I realized that I was not all that adaptable when I needed to change at a far more deeper and visceral level.
What helped me in this transformation process and has since become my favorite change tool is Robert Dilts’ ‘Logical Levels of Change’.
The model is a powerful method for sorting and aligning aspects of ourselves to better understand what is holding us back from moving to our true purpose in life. Dilts’ defines six logical levels of change:
a. Environment – Where & When? Change in my surroundings and situations.
b. Behavior – What we do? Behaving differently in new situations to make things work
c. Capabilities – How we do it? Acquiring new skills and mental strategies for the new behaviors
d. Beliefs and Values – Why we do what we do? The values and beliefs that guide me in this new way of being
e. Identity –Who we are? The identity I am manifesting for this new way of being, roles I play
f. Purpose – What else? What is the larger mission or purpose served in this new way of being
Most of the time, when faced with challenges we just focus on the first three levels, altering immediate behaviors to cope with the new circumstances. We rarely examine the deeper work required to make the new behaviors sustainable and permanent. We cling to labels, deep rooted beliefs, roles and behaviors, which have stopped serving their purpose long ago or were dysfunctional to begin with. That is why we find ourselves slipping into old patterns over time.
The next three involve transformation at the level of our beliefs, values and core identity. Each level of change engages progressively deeper and broader elements of our neurology. Working our way up from purpose and identity level makes us realize that some changes are not stopgap arrangements, and need to be aligned to the larger purpose of our existence.
If we examine our relationship with change and find strong resistance somewhere, check out how it is manifesting at each of these levels. It will bring to light what is actually holding us back and where the change work is most needed so it can be aligned with our core identity.
For me, this started my journey of rediscovery and transformation at the identity and purpose level. It led me through the path of coaching, first myself, and then training to be a skilled helper. What I have found as I work my way through these deeper levels is that once we discover how we want to manifest in this world and decide to show up as that person, the beliefs and behaviors start falling in place slowly. It requires constant learning and self-correction.
Today, everything I do, I try to align it with my identity as a skilled helper, a coach, a facilitator., a harmonizer. And when I catch myself slipping into any behavior/thought/belief, which is incongruent with this identity, I know there is unfinished business to be attended to.
Connect with Sukeshi Pandit Malhotra, Personal Mastery & Transformation Coach, via sukeshipm @ gmail.com
by Claire Rajan
As I considered the topic for this month’s collaboration, I was flooded by the many ways change can be dealt with. Change affects us at so many levels – personal, professional, relational, societal, and global. It is said that a rule of life is that everything changes and as humans it is our role to adapt to change.
We are beings with drive. We are driven to do, accomplish, make things happen, build wealth, contribute, be useful, add value, have meaningful relationships and make sense of our lives, among many other responsibilities. Each of us are driven within our individual circumstances and we do so in accordance with our current state of inner beingness. This drive that we have to accomplish is a fact of life.
I would like to consider the topic of change while considering a limitation that each of us are subject to – our conscious awareness. The word conscious is defined as what we can focus on and put our awareness toward through the application of thought at any given moment. The scope of our conscious awareness is fairly narrow and limited. Most of us are also aware that there is an unconscious aspect of our psyche which mostly acts independently, animating and influencing our conscious awareness.
We are unconscious to a lot of what is going on in and around us – such as the bodily functions (digestion, breathing, etc.) that happen on their own and outside of our conscious awareness. In fact, research indicates that our natural and spontaneous actions are mostly unconscious even though we think we are acting consciously.
The image describes what I believe to be essential change work. Each of us might be well served in undertaking a somewhat challenging and uncomfortable process of change. Staying with this idea that what we operate from a fairly narrow and unconscious scope of awareness, what naturally flows within that scope is vitally important.
The individual in the image represents each of us having an outward facing persona and an inward experienced reality. Our conscious awareness that is driven primarily on the dictates of our unconscious parts does so by focusing on the external “real-world”. As a consequence, we expend a lot of time and effort in adjusting and rearranging our external world to satisfy our drive to get things done and accomplish.
Such outwardly focused efforts may find fruitful results or not. If our efforts are successful, we feel great and accomplished. When unsuccessful, we might resort to fixes to pacify the disappointment or redirect blame onto others.
(click the image to view on large scale)
What we often miss out on is the important role that the unconscious within us is playing. We miss out on the importance of the flow of information through the conscious awareness. This unconscious part is working surely but silently in the background influencing what we consciously apply our focus on. In the image I depict and refer to the unconscious as a collection of energetic forces that drive our behavior and actions. It holds and contains all that we are about, accumulations from our past experiences, memories, learnings, conditioning and inherited patterns to name a few. These energetic forces pull us in different directions. This is the content that drives us, defines our focus, our motivation and our intent. These forces find their way into our daily life experience fueling our moment-to-moment choices and decisions.
The issue here is that this energetic construct holds within it conflicting ideas, confusions, unrestrained desires that are seeking fulfillments, tensions coming from worry and anxiety, fears, unhealthy attachments, unprocessed emotions from past experience, and wild passions that have not been regulated. These are just a few examples, but you get the picture.
Now consider the results of making our conscious decisions using this type of internal energetic database. Imagine these noisy energetics being channeled through our narrow conscious stream of awareness into every area of our life. Imagine them driving our personal, professional lives and relationships. What would a mixed bag of disordered chaotic, unregulated energetic forces driving our accomplishments lead to in terms of results? Mixed results – some wins, some losses. To make sense of poor results we focus our efforts on desperately rearranging our external reality hoping we have made the necessary adjustments that would lead to a better outcome next time.
Our conscious efforts in rearranging the externals needs to change and this is essential change. Given our conscious awareness is so limited and dependent on what lies within – the contents of our unconscious mind need to be examined carefully. If we neglect to do this, we will have to face the painful consequences of mixed, undesirable and/or fruitless outcomes.
What I would also like to address at this point is that this essential change involves dealing with a lot of discomfort. Discomfort is not something we naturally enjoy. Each of us has our own set of distractors that we use to disengage from discomfort and return to a more comfortable state. When confronted with the discomfort we might cleverly downplay, make excuses or deny the importance of the need to change. Such counterproductive strategies might offer relief in the short term, but they do not address the underlying root cause of the hollow results we get.
In conclusion is my invitation and appeal that each of us consider our role and responsibility in addressing our own individual energetic database. In doing so we free ourselves from the tyranny of unconscious, unruly and unregulated patterns driving our outcomes.
This change to our internal baggage is transformative change work making us individuals with a capacity to adapt more easily and readily to change that life will continuously demand from us. If done with honest diligence the fruit of our labor will be ours to enjoy.
by Sujit Gogoi
Change, for me, is the process of re-inventing the existing so that it becomes new, more efficient, and effective than the earlier. As we can see, things are constantly being changing around us. We can see changes both in the physical as well as in the non-physical world.
Changes in the physical world are taking place through technology, fashion, infrastructure, etc whereas changes in the non-physical world are happening through our consciousness and imagination. We can also say that the changes that we can see outside in the physical world, it is mostly due to changes that are taking place in our human consciousness and imagination.
Change as human beings
I would like to classify individual change in two ways:
1) Progressive Change &
2) Regressive Change.
In Progressive change, we are evolving for something better. In other words, we are growing and adapting to new situations by learning new skills. For instance, during pre-covid, we are all used to work being physically present in the office, but post-covid, we adapt to working from home. The same happened with education. That’s a change that we had to adapt because we don’t want the company to stop flourishing or don’t want to stop educating ourselves. We know exactly what we wanted and according to the situations, we changed.
When we have set a goal or have a cause that requires us to change our mindset, adopt new healthy habits, learn new skills, bring some change in our behaviors and if we are happily willing to do that and take actions, then we are progressively changing and evolving.
When we are not progressively changing with time, we are changing regressively. When we are strongly attached to our own beliefs, our views, old habits, thoughts, behaviours, which is not anyway helping us to evolve, then it’s a sign of regressive change. In other words, if something is not changing for the better, it is changing for the worse. For example, the degrees providing by some of the universities have become obsolete for the current job market. The best companies in the world are no
more hiring individuals based on just a degree but based on the skill the individual actually has. But if the individual keeps on acquiring degrees without actually working on his/her skill, then he will be far away from having a decent job or earning a good money. Regressive changes might lead to boredom, depression, apathy, an increase in fear and anxiety, low Self-onfidence, etc.
With change also comes uncertainty and discomfort. We can’t say exactly what will be on the other side. If we make a transition from one career to another, we can’t say whether it will bring success or failure. That is one of the reason we sometimes are afraid to make that change. We want to be safe and secured. That’s how we were programmed. But being safe and secured also comes at risk. Risk of not living a fulfilled life. Staying on the same job whole your life, doing the same stuff you hate just for the monthly paycheck is unimaginable. We are paying the price of not living a life that we really want. We are paying the price of not building a career we truly care about. And that’s the biggest risk we can take with our life.
Human beings are not build to be stagnant and do the same thing or live the same life over and over again. We crave for some positive change every now and then because that what makes us feel alive. Try this – Choose your favorite food, and for 30 days, have the same food, cooked in the same style in your breakfast, lunch, and dinner without any gap, and let me know how it feels after 30 days. Will it still be your favorite food? I have a doubt but if you are like me, you will start to hate it just after 3 days. This is just a simple example but the same happens with other areas of our life too.
Growth and personal success require constant progressive change. I have realized that if we truly desire to live a happy and fulfilled life, then change is one of the prerequisite for us to live that life. We can’t expect people or situations outside us to change if we, ourselves, are not changing. For a change, we need to break the shell that we previously in and have to let ourselves get into a new domain. There is a chance that you will find discomfort or you might even fail in the way while working towards bringing that change, but that should not be the reason for not making that change. It doesn’t mean that changing your job every single year or changing your partner just because you are not happy will bring you more fulfillment. Fulfillment in life comes when we know ourselves better and we are striving to fulfill our desires without restricting or putting any limitations on ourselves.
Mandy Hale said it so well,
"Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don't belong."
Q) So What changes you need to make to be more fulfilled and successful in life?
Q) What’s stopping you from making that Change?
by Kally Tay
I love changes. For me, life should always be in balance of both ups and downs because only when we experience the low points in life, we can truly appreciate and treasure our wins and momentous events. I have gone through many difficult and challenging phases in my life that shaped who I am today, and I am extremely grateful that I can look at these changes as something positive and call them my epic adventures.
Please allow me to share some of my major twists and turns that I experienced over the years and taught me valuable life lessons.
A Major Change in My Career
I earned a stable, lucrative income as a jewellery sales consultant doing retail hours during my early twenties when a new opportunity, an admin assistant role, knocked on my door. Although leaving my sales job would mean a 50% cut in my salary, I knew that new work could be my opportunity to learn more and challenge myself in a different role. Not working during retail hours also means that I can do a night study in my spare time. It was a scary jump to an unknown universe as I felt inadequate for my new role. I was like a fish out of water, and nonstop thoughts and doubts were running in my head. Back then, I was not computer literate, so I was afraid that the new job would not work out in the end. The worst thing that could happen was I could never go back to my old job. Moreover, jobs like that, with high salary and low expectations, are hard to come by.
But honestly, the thought of being in retail all my life wasn’t something I fancied. I wanted much more than the job can provide. Being a jewellery assistant means 80% of my time included standing at a spot and waiting for customers to walk in. And that was the only time I can serve clients and do my sales pitch. After thinking about the cons and pros, and weighing all the possible outcomes, I made the jump.
Working as an admin assistant means I needed to work on some new skills, my computer skills in specific. I worked twice as hard as others, and I taught myself how to use Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint during my spare time in the office. I also asked a lot of questions, volunteered to run errands, stayed back late to help with marketing promos, and increased my network through clients and colleagues. Soon enough, my efforts paid off. My boss noticed my efforts and decided to groom me. He sponsored my further education and promoted me twice within the same year.
Results: I obtained my certification in business, and I gained experience as a first-time office manager.
Besides that, I learnt lots of hands-on experience by dipping my toes into other departments like marketing, sales, customer service, etc.
If I did not take that step out of my comfort zone, I would probably still be in the retail line, and maybe jumping from store to store without feeling any satisfaction in my career.
And if I only stayed within my job scope as an office manager, I would never learn different things from the other departments. Also, I would never be able to expand my network within the company.
A Major Change to My Lifestyle
After a few years of working in my dream company, I felt ecstatic and comfortable in my role. My superiors appreciated my work and my team and coworkers enjoyed working with me. Within a year into the job, I was approached to take a new opportunity to relocate in Shanghai to be part of the pioneer batch that spearheads the first China campus.
Although my role hasn’t changed, I will be taking on a larger profile and bigger responsibilities in a different country with a different culture. As much as I love to travel as a past time, I didn’t venture to other countries outside Southeast Asia, and I have never lived on my own. It was a huge risk to uproot myself from the comforts of my home and be thrown into the unknown. Besides that, I just started dating someone new.
But the thought of moving overseas to gain exposure and experience was too much to decline. I know I will regret it if I didn’t take up the offer.
So, I moved. I hunted down the perfect apartment within walking distance to my new office. It was only a 10-minute walk compared to an hour of commute that I did daily in Singapore. I also made new friends, many of whom became lifelong friendships. I even switched roles, from sales to training and even to order processing role.
Results: I spent two years in Shanghai and had a memorable, eye-opening experience. I fell in love with the country, and I got to travel to many parts of China. I even met many people from different backgrounds, and consequently, my social circle got wider.
I matured exponentially during my time in China. To live by yourself is a luxury for Singaporeans because rentals are impossibly high. Moreover, you are only eligible to purchase affordable public housing from the government after you got married or reached 35 years old, whichever comes first. For the first time, despite the risk of sounding like a spoilt child, I did my laundry, cooked my food, and cleaned my house. I no longer come home to a meal set for me after a long day at work. I even fixed my own IKEA furniture and light bulbs.
I also got to experience the four seasons for the first time since the weather you can have in Singapore is either rain or shine. Unused to winter, I hibernated under the electric blanket in front of the heater whenever the temperature drops to less than 10 degrees. When my colleagues decked in sweaters during autumn, I was already wearing a winter coat and a sweater.
If I had stayed in my country, I will never experience all of these and come to appreciate how comfortable living in Singapore is and how fortunate I am to be a Singaporean. Most importantly, the 2 years I spent abroad was the test that strengthened my long-distance relationship.
A Major Change in My Status
During my stint in Shanghai, I was offered a huge change again. This time around, a diamond ring and a promise to love me forever. To close the gap of our long-distance relationship, I had to leave my dream career in my dream company to live in another foreign country and be with the man of my dreams.
Once again, I faced it with some dilemma, but I picked up my courage and chose to go to the unknown. I resigned from my job, packed up my bags, and relocated to Kuala Lumpur.
Results: I am now happily married for 6 years with an adorable 4-year-old. I am a proud servant of my 3 lovely cats. I am a founder of the career site MiddleMe.net, and I became a successful freelancer.
Life is all about changes. And change is scary – it is unnerving, it is uncomfortable. It is easy to just stay put where you are. But if we don’t take calculated risks to change our lives for the better, we will never gain memories that will last a lifetime. Staying stagnant, complacent, and idle frightens me more than anything else.
Identities: the obstacle to change
by Mathias Sager
Transitions can be defined as “change from one form to another.” In physical life, change is inevitable. So, we (and all matter) constantly change. Our body that we occupied only a few years ago does not contain the same atoms anymore and might look quite different. All real estate erodes. Paradoxically, it’s that unstable matter that we shortsightedly consider as “real.” Wouldn’t it be more accurate to call “real” what actually is stable and doesn’t change, even in the long run? Isn’t, therefore, our soul more likely our real self?
The problem is that most people solely identify with their fragile bodily existence and not with their eternal spiritual being. We theoretically know that at some point in time, we’ll lose our stuff, and we’ll have to die. Because we tend to deny this for most of the time to satisfy the desire for stable security, change is rejected as well.
Seeing ourselves as spiritual beings solves the problem in that we get a real glimpse of everlasting life, even beyond our earthly journey. Therefore, I argue, this is the one big change we have to accomplish for a fulfilled life: to expect significant material losses and be ready to die during a lifetime to access our real self as divine beings.
What does it take to trigger such change? As explained before, we must, involuntarily or voluntarily, face loss and death. That’s why for many only major life events bring the necessary interruption in their protected sense of stable identity that leads to personal growth. Asking people about the reasons for their major transformations in life usually comes with narratives about some painful (because unexpected) material losses like, for example, losing a beloved one, losing one’s job, or health by getting sick.
Once awakened to this realization, going through change is still challenging. Social comparison and related peer pressure represent an essential factor for not wanting to change, respectively, to remain fitting in. I believe it is still very uncommon to live a spiritual understanding of life. It is popular to post spiritual quotes and be part of religious communities, but the courage to break away from the pursuit of status, prestige, wealth and material security is rare. The illusion that one can protect oneself against inevitable aging, loss and death with material things is too great.
No one is more hated than the one who speaks the truth. – Plato
It’s even difficult life situations, victimhood, and (relative) poverty that people defend against change. Research finds that people often justify the existing social system even when this comes at personal and collective costs. System Justification Theory posits that authoritarian ideologies and cultures, respectively ‘cultures of justification,’ which can also appear through inequalities in wealth in so-called democratic societies, motivate the often-unconscious belief of inferiority most strongly among individuals of underprivileged groups. What role a person takes in society seems less critical to her/him than a stable (and therefore seemingly secure) identification with whatever role.
In summary, it can be said that people with a worldview of an identity that seeks stability and security, regardless of its quality, prevent themselves (and others) from changing. In this way, they deny themselves access to their real selves, the spiritual self, and sooner or later they will be devastated if changes happen anyway, let alone regret not having thought about it earlier and changed voluntarily.
The thinking man changes his opinion. – Friedrich Nietzsche
If you’d like to “question” your worldview/identity and learn how to access a more humanly spiritual way of thinking, you can find a helpful self-reflection tool and related services on www. mathias-sager. com.
Be the change
by Rika Cossey
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” This quote from Gandhi is one of my favourite quotes and it has become a mantra I turn to when I think about my work. There are a couple of things to draw out from this quote when we talk about ‘change’ more generally.
A desire for change
Firstly, there needs to be a desire for change. Sure, it can be a no-brainer when we look at the world today – something needs to change. But, hand to heart, are you ready to change? Are you embracing change or is it rather someone (or something) else who (that) needs to change?
I work with climate change and in the debate around it, there is very often a desire for something to change. However, it’s definitely not the way we live our lives. Politicians should change and understand the severity of the problem. Industries should change and finally understand that they are the culprits. International organisations should finally step up and produce the change the globe need.
But what about us individually? Are we ready to change for the sake of climate change? Do we desire ‘change’ to save the planet?
Sometimes it’s easier said than done. Our desire might be pure and true but the implementation is tricky. And that’s where I encourage my clients to dig deep and ask themselves what it is precisely they can change in their lives. Because only by cementing the motivation for change, will that change last.
Know the options
The number one question I hear from clients is this: what can I possibly change? That task, the task of figuring out what anyone can possibly do is something I turn around to the individual. What do you want to change?
When it comes to living a low-carbon lifestyle, a sustainable life or even a self-sufficient life, the potential is endless. Just google it and you will find countless ideas, lists and examples of what you can do. Celebrities will show you the latest tree-planting project they support, bloggers will share their latest DIY-project for reusing their waste, and YouTubers will take you on a tour of their latest plantings on their farm. All these examples are great and certainly something to aspire to. But, no one knows your life better than you. Only you know if you have the will, patience, and space to plant a food forest. No one has walked in your shoes.
And that is where change can be tricky. You have to understand the options available to you and how they could fit into your life. And it’s your responsibility to do your research to make your ideas come true. Change starts with a whole lot of thinking, research, and gathering of ideas.
Embody the change
And finally, after establishing your motivation and doing all the research, the hardest part begins: being the change.
Gandhi is said to have uttered this sentence about being the change when he was talking to a little boy about eating sugar. The story goes that the boy’s mother wanted Gandhi to tell her son that sugar wasn’t good to eat. But Gandhi couldn’t do that straight away because he himself was still consuming sugar. So, he asked the mother and her son to come back two weeks later. By then Gandhi would have stopped eating sugar himself and he could adequately counsel the boy.
Whether that story is true or not, it shows the importance of embodying the change you wish to see in the world. No teacher is believable when he or she doesn’t live up to their teachings. The same goes for any parent – children will model their parent’s behaviour, not their words. Telling anyone what should be done without doing it yourself will not lead to change. Your actions don’t have to be perfect but they have to be authentic.
Now, I’m saying all this from experience. I’ve been searching for the right path in my life for the past decade. It started with working for an NGO in the development sector where I thought I could make a difference. Upon realising that my work wasn’t the kind of change I wanted to see in the world, I left. I went back to studying and ultimately exploring what it means for me to fail my own standards. A few years down the road and today I have minimised my physical possessions and I’m planning a self-sufficient farm. My motivation is clear: I want to leave a healthy planet for my children. My research is still ongoing and I’m far from perfect but I talk about it to learn.
Change is not linear
My story shows one important aspect of ‘being the change I wish to see in the world’ – it’s not linear. When I first started out at the NGO I was already beginning to embody the change I wanted to see. I also continued learning and exploring what works in my life. All this was still flawed when I look at it today but I lived true to what I believed at the time.
And the word already says it all: change. It’s the opposite of stagnation and it gives us room to grow. And there is no end to it. Whether it’s eliminating sugar or stopping climate change – change continues. And even if you think you have managed to succeed, embodying the changes you have made will continue until there is no one left to learn from you.