Buddha Groove’s Guru Series brings insight from experts across the fields of mindfulness, natural wellness, yoga, and meditation. This week, we have wisdom from an aromatherapist in training, Emma Carter.
I work as an acupuncturist and a life coach. My clients come to see me because they are in some form of discomfort, which is often physical or emotional in nature.
My process is to consider who my clients are in the broadest possible context. Regardless of the specifics of their discomfort, I consider where they grew up, their familial background, relationships, work and hobbies, as well as a wide range of physical conditions. I do this so I can discover the deepest imbalance in their lives and help them correct it.
Chances are, they already have some coping mechanisms for their root issue. As a result, an inherent part of my work is looking to see what behaviors they’re repeating which exacerbate their symptoms. I consider it my responsibility as a healer to make my clients aware of how this connection.
Whether it’s a change in diet or exercise, setting better boundaries with their coworkers, or even looking at their situation from a different perspective, when clients recognize their role in the matter, they recognize their power to help themselves feel better.
How much better my clients ultimately feel is often directly related to how much they’re able to implement change in their life. Making changes is not a guarantee that discomfort will disappear, but not making changes is practically a guarantee that it won’t.
What defines whether someone is ready to make a lasting change in their life?
First and foremost, someone has to be willing to make changes. If a client walks into my office because her husband or her kids tell her she should go, that’s not a great indicator of her personal motivation. Instead, it strongly suggests that she is there to make others happy.
If I go to therapy because my wife tells me I need to go, or she is saying that our relationship depends on me going to therapy, I may certainly be motivated to go. However, my motivation is external. My true motivation is that I want to stop my wife’s pestering, and/or I am fearful that my relationship will fail.
Whenever our motivation comes from outside of ourselves, we are going to get help because we want something outside of ourselves to change. What is bound to happen is that as soon as that outside thing changes, we are no longer interested in getting help.
For instance, if someone wants to lose weight for a wedding, they have an external motivation to do so. They want to look good for some event. When that is their intent, there is a better than average chance that right after the wedding, the weight will come back on.
If someone is trying to get in shape to impress a girl, when he gets her, he will likely not have that same motivation. His goal has been met.
In the long run, any and all external things we place our focus on will ultimately fail. People will die, relationships will end, and circumstances around us will change as life continues to unfold. Nothing is permanent.
The strongest indicator that someone is going to make lasting changes, and therefore have lasting success in their quality of life, is that person wants to get better for themselves. They want to feel better from the inside out.
For example, instead of focusing on losing x number of pounds, the focus is on living a healthier life. Or, instead of going to therapy to stop your wife from nagging, go to therapy because you want to make sense of the clutter in your head and be clearer about who you are.
This way, regardless of what happens in your work or financial or personal aspects of your life, the reason you are making your change never goes anywhere. When your aim is to feel better inside your skin, your place of focus never moves.
How motivated someone is to grow and heal, and how much they want to do that for themselves is a primary indicator of whether or not they actually will change.
Change is Possible
Secondly, someone has to believe change is possible. When someone says, “Well, that’s just who I am,” they are immediately putting a limitation on what they think is mutable. There is a finality to that sentiment, leaving no openness to something different from what their experience is.
In order for change to happen, there has to be a belief that it is possible. People have to believe that they are not just a line of dominoes, automatically falling after a flash of discomfort arises and taps the first piece.
When we stop believing that we are just an uninterruptible sequence of reactions beyond our control, we are empowered to make changes to ourselves.
I have been asked many times if someone needs to believe in acupuncture or energy work in order for them to work. The answer is a resounding no. People don’t need to believe that it will, but they have to be open to the idea that it can.
As soon as the door to a dark room is just the slightest bit open, light can come in. From there, change can happen, which can encourage the door to open more. If someone is shut off from the sense of possibility, their door will be completely closed, and no light will get in, proving them right. If I believe that acupuncture is not the right thing for me, it will not have much of an effect.
Open to Process
Thirdly, someone has to be open to the process of change.
Changing is a process. In fact, truly, there is no destination when it comes to change. No one wakes up and says, “Well, NOWI’ve changed and am healthy, so I don’t have to eat well and exercise anymore.” What will happen if they then eat fast food and spend their time on their couch? Their health will deteriorate.
There is a difference between feeling better and living better. People may feel better after they receive an acupuncture treatment, but if they are not living better, there’s a strong chance their discomfort is going to return. However, if they are willing to make changes and live a healthier life, what they have gained is something they can take with them for the rest of their days.
People who want to lose weight, for example, can easily be lured in by a quick fix. “Take this pill, or try this magic diet and watch the pounds melt away!”
Sadly, that approach focuses on the end goal at the expense of the journey required to get there. In order to lose weight, someone has to be willing to go through the process of losing weight. You can’t go to the gym once and then you’re suddenly healthy.
Being open to the idea that feeling better is a journey and not a destination sets you up for success. This brings the focus on living your life in a new and different way. It also gives you the resilience to gracefully handle the winding road that progress entails. When you see change as a journey, a challenge on the path is not an obstruction, it’s a chance to learn, adapt, and continue to change.
Lastly, I often ask clients what they are willing to do to change. “How badly do you want it?”
“I’m willing to do almost anything to change…” some have replied. Well, what are you not willing to do? What action are you unwilling to take or thought process you are unwilling to address? As soon as there’s something you’re not willing to change, you put limitations on how far you can go in your healing process.
I have had clients say to me, “I’m completely an open book, but I’m not talking about that.” I immediately acknowledge that the thing they don’t want to talk about is quite likely the exact thing that most needs to see the light of day and will most likely have the greatest effect on them feeling better.
By not being willing to discuss something or to even look at it from a different perspective, there are strict limitations on how far someone can go to feel better.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Anyone can make changes in their life. How well they succeed on their journey is entirely determined by these factors:
Do they want to change?
Do they want to change for themselves?
Do they believe they can change?
Are they open to the process of change or are they looking for the immediate result?
And what are they willing to do in order to make the changes stick?
I challenge you, reader, to consider this for yourself and see how it applies to your life. When you truly want to change, and are committed to it, anything is possible.