If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

If it Ain't Broke Blog Petra's Dog Resource Center

We are, on the whole, a pretty pessimistic society. We focus on what is going wrong, what went wrong and what could potentially go wrong. Which means, inevitably, things are going to go wrong…and prove us right. If we do find something that works for us, we stick to it. If we have had a modicum of success with something, we’re relieved and positively reinforced. That worked for me so I’m always going to do it like that. Not only are we hesitant to change what we did to get there, we actively resist it. After all, so many things could possibly go wrong!!

It’s really not our fault. We are wired to watch out for “danger”.  That was helpful for our ancestors that lived in prehistoric times. In today’s society however, “danger” comes in the form of failure, public ridicule, not achieving a goal, not making enough money, etc.  We are also wired to create behavioral loops that we repeat over and over creating habits. Our brains love habits. Habits are efficient and require little effort. So why in the world would I want to change a habit? Why put in all that effort when everything is just fine, especially since change is not easy and moving into the unknown is scary. Breaking a habit requires consistent, conscious, concentrated effort over time, especially since our subconscious mind loves the status quo and will do everything it can to thwart our efforts.

We all want a better job, more money, a better relationship, success with our hobbies, better health, etc., but we are willing to settle because of our habits—because we believe that this is the best we can be. Humans on the whole are very risk/failure averse. If I leave my current job, I could end up making less money, being less successful, or unemployed. I would be embarrassed, humiliated, shamed…not to mention broke. Very rarely do we think that if we leave our current job, we could make more money, be more successful, love what we do, feel fulfilled, and all the positive feelings that go with that. We are just too afraid. Personally, I’ve discovered that any time there was a major change in my life that caused a disruption, the result has been a significant improvement in my life. Sometimes I had no control over the circumstances. Other times I did, and chose to take a deep breath, jump in and see what happened.

Many people will stay in unhappy relationships. I totally understand, I’ve been there. If you ask them why, they have lots of reasons. None of them sound very convincing to someone from the outside. They would rather stay with what they do know than take a risk on the unknown. They never give a list of reasons on how things could be better if they weren’t in that relationship. Trust me. There are tons of reasons, and it can be much better. You have to change your mindset. Be willing to take the leap, and believe that if things have the potential to get worse…they also have the potential to get better. It’s a mindset.

Take dog training. There are many methods out there. Some use compulsion, and they work. Some methods always blame the dog and seek to punish the dog, and they work. So why change them? I mean, if you do, you could fail. But the truth is, not only is it possible that it will work, it can work better than the method you used before. I’ve been fortunate to have some success with competition dog training. Many methods I’ve used in the past worked extremely well, and I could have left it at that. Just continue using the same methods. But there are a number of reasons I didn’t. After some time had passed, I realized that I really wasn’t comfortable using compulsion for a hobby that I enjoyed… that I, not my dogs, chose to participate in. I also love challenges. I wanted to see if I could train my dogs using different methods. I’m actually always experimenting. Could I fail?  Absolutely. Did that make me nervous? It used to, but I’m willing to take that chance, because I truly believe that my training can improve. It can get better and better—and it has. I’ve made mistakes, many of them. Ultimately, I feel that my training has improved by leaps and bounds. The new methods I’m using are backed by science and have proven more successful than many of the older methods, and I plan to continue improving and evolving.

We also have a set of beliefs that we’ve amassed over the years. They are rarely based on fact. They come from the people around us and society, when we are growing up and now. They come from our insecurities and fears. Subconsciously our behavior constantly reinforces those beliefs, but the reality is, we can change those beliefs. Very easily. We can reinforce a new set of beliefs and change our reality! As we get older, we believe we will lose our memory. Every time we forget something we say “see, I’m getting older and I’m losing my memory.”  I know that personally I’ve never had the best memory. I walked into a room and forgot what I was doing in my 30’s, 40’s and now 50’s. My memory (or lack thereof) is exactly the same. When I was running in my later 40’s, every time I had knee or hip pain I thought to myself “my time is limited, my joints are going to get arthritic and I won’t be able to run.”  I actually stopped running for about a year because I was too old to run. When I realized what I was doing I decided to change my belief. At 53 I’m back to running 4-7 miles multiple times a week, and my times are the same as in my 40’s. I’m going to increase my distance over time and my runs are going to become faster. Why? Because I believe it, and that’s really all that has changed. My belief.

As we get older, we become less curious, less adventurous and less likely to change. That doesn’t mean change isn’t good or possible. It doesn’t mean your life can’t improve. You’re just more entrenched in your beliefs and habits. I can say from personal experience that change can be exhilarating. Change can lead you to a job you love. It can improve your health. It can bring you peace and joy. It can bring you success. It can enhance your relationships. Change can make you better at…well, everything!

Changing what we think and believe is difficult. It can be scary. Or exciting. We can maintain our status quo, or  we can grow, evolve, and create a new future that fulfills our dreams. Now, as soon as I say that, many of you will come up with a list of reasons why not. I challenge you to take a few minutes and list the same number of reasons why life could be better.  Take a few minutes to dream and see how that feels.  Own your power, tap into your courage and make a change. If it seems overwhelming start small. Once you succeed you will be motivated and inspired to continue on your journey.

In today’s technology age, there are countless resources available to you, many of which are free, and many of which are highly effective. Currently I’m working with Dr. Joe Dispenza and in a few short months it’s already had a significant, positive impact on my life. Yes, I work on it every day, but that’s a small price to pay to move from a satisfactory life to a highly rewarding, exciting life that meets and exceeds your hopes, expectations and dreams.

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