Change is inevitable! We experience change at some level every day. It may be as small as using a new coffee cup to as big as changing jobs. Regardless of the size or intensity of the change, we have all established coping strategies. We probably all know people who struggle with the smallest of changes, and we may know people who fly through life as if they hardly notice the changes. Why do people cope differently? It’s because as individuals, we all develop strategies for getting through life. We have decision-making strategies, coping strategies, and adjustment strategies. Our strategies are developed very early on in life and are the result of our perceptions of the world. It’s well-known that young children are able to thrive in some of the worst conditions if their caregivers are thriving. Children who tend to be reactive, often have one or more caregiver who is reactive. The good news is that although our strategies are pretty well ingrained, we do not have to be held hostage to them. We CAN change. In this article, I’ll take you through some practical steps you can use to not only learn how to survive major life changes, but to thrive during them by understanding your decision-making strategy.
Identify Your Strategies
Since all of our behaviors are the outcome of our perceptions, the best place to start when trying to identify your strategies is with your sensory system. In the field of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) our primary senses (seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting) are called modalities. For our purposes here, we will focus on the three major modalities that are most influential in the development of strategies. They are the Visual (seeing), Auditory (hearing), and Kinesthetic (feeling) modalities. To illustrate how you use modalities as part of your decision-making strategy, consider the following scenario and fill in the blanks with the answer most appropriate to you. The words you will use to fill in the blanks are: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic and Auditory Digital (Ad=self-talk).
You go to your favorite store to purchase some shoes. You know what type of shoes you want to buy. They are (tennis shoes, dress shoes, casual dress shoes, etc.). Upon walking in to the store, you head directly to the shoe department. The first thing you do when you get there is to (Look, Listen, Touch, or talk to yourself). After you’ve found the pair of shoes you think you like, you (touch them/ try them on, or ask yourself if they meet the criteria you were looking for in a shoe). At this point, you might be ready to pay for the shoes, or you might decide to continue looking (this will happen if the shoes you chose don’t fit your criteria or don’t fit right). Once you find another potential pair of shoes, you repeat the above step (touch them/ try them on or ask yourself if they meet the criteria you were looking for in a shoe).
There are a few possible decision-making strategies that could emerge from the above example.
• You look for the type of shoes you’re interested in buying (Visual)
• After you find a pair, you try them on (Kinesthetic)
• You ask yourself if they meet your needs (Auditory Digital)
Some of the possible strategy patterns could be:
• V -> K
• V -> Ad
• V -> K -> Ad
• V ->Ad -> K
Can you find your pattern? If you think of other scenarios where you have to make decisions, you’ll probably find you use the same strategy over and over.
Decide to Make a Change
Now that you know your primary decision-making strategy, you should be enlightened about how you make more important decisions in your life besides buying shoes. Generally speaking, your strategy will be the same. Consider a situation in which you are looking for a new job. You might see a job posting or advertisement that represents the type of job in which you are interested (Visual). After reading the job description, you might either ask yourself if it feels right (Kinesthetic), or sounds good (Auditory) or ask yourself if the requirements and your responsibilities meet your criteria for the type of job you want (Auditory Digital).
Keep in mind-no one strategy is correct! Your strategy is the one that has worked for you. If, for some reason, it doesn’t work for you, there is always the option of changing it. This won’t happen over night, but it is possible. Think about someone who is a compulsive shopper. Maybe their strategy is to go to the store, see things they like (V) and buy. Other levels could be added to the decision-making/ buying process to help them be less compulsive. Note: Before you take this step, make sure you have permission from the person you are accompanying. Giving unwanted input could destroy a relationship. It’s that powerful! If you have permission, you can add a step to their buying strategy by inputting the question: Do you need that? every time they pick something up to add to the shopping cart. By doing so, you’re adding an Auditory Digital component (in this case it’s not yet self-talk) to their strategy. Eventually, the compulsive shopper will start asking themselves the question in the form of self-talk, thereby changing their buying strategy to V -> Ad. Consequently, they will be less likely to succumb to spontaneous buying.
Similarly, if you believe your decision-making strategy has been less effective than you’d like, you can change your strategy by consciously adding or deleting modalities to your strategy. Eventually, your unconscious will take over and your strategy will change to one you believe is more effective.
Making Decisions about Major Life Changes
Making decisions about major life changes are the ones that cause us the most stress. The majority of the stress comes from not trusting ourselves and having a fear of the unknown. While these are certainly legitimate concerns, the root cause of the stress probably stems from an internal conflict regarding whether or not you’re making the right decision. Sometimes being aware of your decision-making strategy is enough to provide you with the added insight you need when making decisions about major life changes, or when major life changes occur that are not the result of a choice you made consciously. However, there are times when knowing your strategy isn’t enough and you feel like you’re left sitting on a fence. The to do or not to do dilemma can produce a very uncomfortable feeling. The what ifs can cause major stress, which sometimes trigger secondary reactions like depression and anxiety.
Get Your Parts Together
When you feel like you’re sitting on a fence, it’s usually because a part of you feels one way and another part of you feels another way. The only was to get off the fence and make a decision you can live with, especially if it involves a major life change, is to get your parts together.
Getting your parts together is easier than it sounds, but it involves some serious reflection. In NLP, we use a technique known as parts integration to help clients do just that. Although it is a technique you can do on your own, it’s much easier if someone you trust will work with you.
Start by identifying the problem:
Part of me wants to do [blank], and part of me wants to do [blank].
Hold your hands out in front of you, and have the parts come out on your hands by associating them with something you can see, hear and feel.
Then do the same with the other part on the other hand.
The next step is to do what we call, chunking up. This means you go from concrete to abstract. Here’s an example a client recently experienced: Part of me wants to move to [blank] and part of me doesn’t. To guide the chunking up process, ask yourself, or better yet, have someone ask you, “for what purpose,” or “for what intention.” So, for instance, you’d say: For what purpose do you want to move to [blank]. Keep repeating these statements until you chunk high enough and you’ll find that the purpose for each part is the same. In the case of my client, she discovered that the root cause of the problem (whether to move or not) was a feeling of guilt. Once the parts were integrated, she was able to make a decision about whether to move or not.
Parts Integration is a very effective technique. It does take some practice and is usually more successful if done with assistance. Identifying your decision-making strategy is quite easy, however, and can be a very powerful tool you can use in most any situation in which you are looking at making major life changes. When used together, you can not only survive major life changes, you can thrive during them.
Article Source: How to Survive Major Life Changes