There are a lot of books and writings we all get our hands on that speak to changing our lives or transforming ourselves in some way or another.

We all suffer in life. Whether it’s deep emotional pain, physical pain, or just wanting to avoid an upcoming work project, the mind is constantly on the lookout for how to fix this suffering.

However, what we are often times offered is a romantic version for how to alleviate the suffering. We read the book or watch the programs that tell us simple steps on how to change our lives. These in themselves can be helpful, but not if we don’t do the work.

The truth is, real transformation and change takes a kind of discipline and can be hard work. The mind wants to rebel against this and tell us it’s not true. We can change at any time, witness it in someone who smokes cigarettes and says, “I can quit at any time, I’ve done it hundreds of times.”

Through the course of our lives we’ve developed an internal monitor in our minds that views life in a particular way and makes decisions below our awareness that is based on past experiences. The beliefs are deep, “I can’t do this” or “I have no time for that” or “I haven’t spoken to my sister in a while, but I’m just too busy right now.”

It’s almost as if we need to retrain our brains to see life differently and that doesn’t happen at the surface. That happens at a deeper level and in the same way that it was trained before. We need to learn new ways of relating to life, practice and repeat them.

Over time, we’ll more automatically be present to life, more compassionate, more flexible in mind, and have greater clarity on what is most important.

But it can take hard work, we must not fool ourselves. Anyone can read a book, go on a retreat, or watch a movie and feel changed for that moment.

But once we get back into the routine of life, the automaticity of the mind guides us back into the well worn grooves that have been practiced over and again. Before we know it, we aren’t viewing life from that place of insight and wonder how we ended up in the same place again.

The mind may protest, it’s OK, that’s to be expected as there is a big part of us that doesn’t want to change. There’s a certain comfort to status quo. However, for many of us, it’s just not where we want to be anymore.

So, whatever change you want to make, you may need to leave the mind behind for a bit and allow action to speak for now. Set up a schedule, get a buddy, and stick to it.

Only through practice can we grow new neural connections in the brain that creates new well worn grooves in the mind and makes healthier decisions more automatic.

As you do this, you may be pleasantly surprised at the fruit that is born.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interactions create a living wisdom that we can all benefit from.



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    Last reviewed: 1 Sep 2010

APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2010). Why You May Need to Leave the Mind Behind for Real Change. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 2, 2015, from


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