” If you want small changes in your life, work on your attitude. But if you want big and primary changes, work on your paradigm.”
Stephen Covey

Have you ever noticed a habit that seemed to halt your progress but it seemed as if no matter what you did to break it, it just wouldn’t go away? There are a few reasons this can happen, but one of the greatest underlying causes of those chronic quirks we all have is called a paradigm. A paradigm is a habitual way of thinking and believing that leads to the results we get in life. We’re all born with paradigms, in fact, most of us inherit our paradigms through biology or our environment.

Think of a paradigm like a computer program. The program is written and the computer does exactly as it is programmed to do. The computer can’t see any other way to behave, because it is reading information provided to it by the program and acts accordingly. Just like a computer has a program, we have strong beliefs that influence how we see things and because they’ve always been there, we’re unaware of most of them. Our actions and reactions are based on the paradigms (or programs) we have because we just can’t see another way.

One of the easiest paradigms to recognize is one’s belief system about money. Think about those commonly used expressions “money doesn’t grow on trees,” “you have to work hard to get by,” or “there are no free lunches.” If we look at our relationship with money and resources, I am sure most of us can identify with these phrases and can see how these beliefs impact our behavior around money and resources as well. Maybe we see people with a lot of money as lucky or maybe we think people who are successful are greedy. Just like the computer sees only the information provided by the program, we see the world through the information filtered through our paradigms.

So why even try? What about free-will? What about choice?

Unlike a computer, we are not simply a machine. We have self-awareness and an emotional guidance system to tell us when a paradigm isn’t serving us. It is possible to shift a paradigm to bring us closer to our goals or feeling of happiness. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. AWARENESS: Learn to be aware of the paradigms that are running you. The easiest places to spot them are in the areas of life where things just aren’t working out the way you would like them to or where you are the least happy. Once you have identified an area of your life that isn’t working so well, pay attention to the self-talk that is happening around that area of life. Just like common expressions about money in the example above, you will begin to notice words and phrases that you use to describe the situation that you are the least happy about.
  2. CHOOSE: Paradigms don’t start out as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, they simply are. Once aware of the paradigms that are influencing your life, you can now choose what to do with them. In fact, noticing them and being mindful of them when they pop up actually helps remove some of their power to control how you will react so that you have the power to choose. Remember that you were likely born with these ideas, they are not your fault because most of your life you weren’t even aware of them. Let go of any judgement or guilt.
  3. PIVOT: An easy way to shift a paradigm is to pivot with it rather than trying to resist or break it. Think of our money example. Rather than saying “there are no free lunches” you can pivot to “the Universe recognizes my efforts today and I am richly rewarded above and beyond my wildest expectations!” Pivoting works because as Wayne Dyer famously quoted “what you resist, persists.” Pushing against something robs us of energy. When we let go of our resistance, we gain the energy to act from a more powerful place.
  4. OVERWRITE: Just like you can overwrite the hard drive on your computer with different programs, you can overwrite a paradigm. This doesn’t have to be difficult or take a long time, but it does require a little effort. Some suggestions for really clearing or overwriting paradigms will be expanded in next month’s article, but the simplest way to start is with a daily gratitude practice. Gratitude raises our physical vibration and new studies are showing that it alters our brain chemistry so our thinking is clearer. Read the November article for more suggestions on gratitude.

Because paradigms have always ‘been there’, it’s easy to see why most people feel victim to their habits and thoughts. It can seem as if we really are nothing but programmed computers, destined to do only what our code tells us to do. But the truth is, that we’re not. We’re in control. We may have started with one set of programming, but we are in fact the programmer. We can rewrite the code at any time.

In my coaching practice, I work with people who know that they want something better but who feel “stuck”. Identifying and addressing paradigms is just part of the work that we do. You have four domains in your life: Health & Well-Being, Love & Relationships, Vocation (Career) and Time & Money Freedom. Are there any of these domains that aren’t working the way you’d love? I offer a no-cost 30-minute discovery session to talk about what is bothering you and to present some options for how we can best work together to get you where you’d like to be. Contact me today to set a time. It’s your choice. You can begin to shift your paradigms and to see life differently, and I’m here to help!

“ You and I have the decision to decide what we are going to be with our life! Or we can let the paradigm control us and march along in lockstep type fashion.”
Bob Proctor