On my contract with my 1-on-1 coaching clients, I explain my coaching process and my strict cancellation policy. The reason for this is that the mind loves to play games with us. You never know when your mind is “making you busy”, busy enough to have to cancel your coaching appointment, when what really is happening is the mind’s protection mechanism stepping in to take control.
To change our behavior is one thing but when we change our beliefs and values, that’s the closest thing to who we are as a person that we can get. Our beliefs and values make up a large portion of our identity and are closely held in our mind. So when the coaching starts getting more involved with strongly held beliefs, sometimes I get last minute phone calls with begging & pleading to change the appointment. It’s not a big deal to change the appointment but I do like to remind my clients of one thing before they make the change:
Are you looking for evidence of the new belief or are you looking for evidence of your old beliefs?
Let’s look at an example. I had a client once who came to me because she wanted to succeed in her new job as a division manager and was plagued with the belief that she wasn’t suited for the role. Our first few appointments identified her specific fears and the strategy she was using to maintain her fears. By the third session we were exploring her beliefs about herself and her capabilities. And then she called and tried to change her next appointment because she was really busy at work. I asked her, “Since our last appointment, have you been looking for evidence of how well you are suited for the job as division manager or are you looking for evidence that supports your belief that you should step down?” She didn’t reply. She kept her original appointment and we chatted about what was really going on.
When you look for evidence supporting your old beliefs, you continue the same patterns and same programs that you’ve been operating with for years. If you have no desire to change, keep your old beliefs even if they don’t serve you.
But if you do desire to change, you need to start looking for evidence to support your new beliefs.
Let’s look at another example. I have many friends with small children who always complain that their children wake them up really early in the morning on weekends. Their belief is that this is what parenting is all about. There’s nothing they can do about it. And then I tell them the story of my friend Mary. Mary is a genius when it comes to creating an environment that supports the beliefs that she wants to have. Mary didn’t want to be the parent that complained of lack of sleep or children piling into her bed in the wee hours of the morning. She wanted her own time. So she started looking for evidence that could support her beliefs. What did the kids actually do when she did get out of bed? They wanted her to make breakfast. And for her children, that meant cereal. She had to get the bowls out, the spoons out, the cereal out and the milk out and place them all on the kitchen table while the children watched cartoons. The whole morning really didn’t have anything to do with her. She devised a strategy that required her to move things around in her kitchen. She created a “kids” cupboard on the bottom of her kitchen cabinets. In it, she placed the bowls, the spoons and the cereal. Then she moved things in the refrigerator so she would put the milk in the door on the bottom shelf. When she explained to her children that they could start making their own breakfast, she noticed that they still came to wake her up. Sometimes it was because something spilled. Other times it was because one of the children was burning toast. Instead of looking at these situations as evidence that she’d never get any sleep, she saw it as an opportunity to modify her strategy. She taught her kids to clean up spills. And then she laid down the rules: No toast. No cooking of any kind. This solved a lot of the problems but the children still came in every once in awhile and woke her up. She put the last rule in that changed everything. No TV after Mom gets out of bed! So, if her children wanted to watch cartoons in the morning, they had to be quiet as mice, make themselves cereal and watch TV to their heart’s content. She never heard a peep from her children from that day on.
Some parents will read this story and claim that for whatever reason, Mary’s strategy wouldn’t work for them. That’s because they have no desire to change their beliefs even if those beliefs cause them problems. It’s easier for their minds to stay the same then to go through the hassle of creating a strategy, modifying it, tweaking it until it’s right, and then being consistent with the new strategy. It’s so much easier to follow the same old path.
I hope you choose to create new beliefs by looking for evidence that supports you in your quest to build a better you!