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56. Change

One thing I have realised recently; I cannot write a blog post unless I am genuinely passionate about the topic that I write about. Or better said, I only feel equipped to write about a certain topic unless in the moment of writing that article I am experiencing or contemplating the article's topic in my actual life. Only then do I feel authentic and competent enough to articulate what I feel is needed to be articulated. I hope that makes sense, I am really trying to not make a useless and pretentious artistic statement. If I did, I'm sorry.

Since finishing university this year and editing CANTA, I have felt entirely depleted of any creativity. This year I have found myself squeezing every last drop of creative juice that could possibly be squeezed. When it came to this end of year period where I have basically just existed and have not had to do a lot, when I had the option to not produce any articles or do anything that a capitalist society would deem as 'productive', I chose to not. And to be honest, I could not be more content with that decision. I hope that you're indulging in a bit of fuck-all right now as well, you deserve it hun.

Not that I think it would keep you up at night whatsoever, but I do apologise for somewhat of an absence from this blog's residence. To be honest, this apology is probably more for me than it is for you as I am sure that your agenda of life's worries do not consist of 'when the fuck is Ella going to write her next blog post?!?' But for reasons of a hectic life and no blog post ideas satisfactory enough for my own liking, here we are in December on the fifth blog post of the year. Oopsie. Alas, here we are, dear reader, back again.

It has been happening a lot recently. I finished the Spanish and Psychology portion of my degree, I finished my co-editorship at CANTA this year, I went back into my beloved hospitality work, I have had to say goodbye already to some friends, I have moved back into the parental abode, and in about two weeks time I am moving to Spain. Eek. The 'it' that I was referring to at the start of this paragraph was, of course, change.

It is not just me either. At this point in the year, changes becomes very apparent. It is that point in the year in which people are required to change their living environment, reflect on the year that has been, and actually sit down, reassess, and ask oneself 'what the fuck am I doing with my life?'. Times are a'changin', my friend. And this post is about all things change.

Our homies at the Oxford English Dictionary state that as a noun, "change is an act or process through which something becomes different." I know that we all know what change is, but I find that including a blog post's topic's definition always feels like a nice place to start. In this blog post, we're going to dive into the psychology of change, why change is so frightening, why love our comfort zones, and how we can accept that change is one of the only predetermined absolutes in one's life. Shall we get into it? I think we shall...

For my last few weeks in Aotearoa, I moved home. This was done for a multitude of reasons. But the main two reasons for moving home was first, the financial one and then secondly, to spend more time with the whānau before departing. One thing that I completely forgot existed was mainstream 6pm news. I guess being a part of the hyper-technological generation has subliminally dissolved the need to consume media at one singular point in the day. Now, I get excited to sit in front of the telly with the fellow Gib homies and see what's going on in the world. Might I just take the moment to say though, the news is absolutely overwhelming. The Ella Gibson before watching Wendy Petrie tell me about the devastating state of the world compared to Ella Gibson after is an entirely different specimen. I swear the news did not used to be this stressful. A couple of days ago, the lineup of news stories was actually a joke. The news headlines were basically: "A Dairy Owner Got Stabbed", "Russia Bombed Kyiv", "Everyone Is Going To Have Covid For Christmas", "Frujus Are Not Going To Be Sold In Dairies Over Summer", and then it ended on the light note of, "Avatar Is In Cinemas Now." Thank fuck Avatar's in theatres though.

What this whole news saga has reinforced to me is that the world is a fast-paced, stressful, and ever-changing shit-show. As a matter of fact, it unfortunately won't stop for you or anyone. When I used to watch the news, I swear that shit never used to be this whack and chaotic. Whether that fact is due to me growing up and becoming less ignorant to the world or because the world is exponentially becoming more fucked, the sooner I accept that inevitable, the easier life will become. In saying that, it is hugely important to take your time out of the consuming world when things become too overwhelming to regroup, relax, and recoup. But after that, it is paramount that you find your avenue back into the world once you feel equipped to do so.

In psychology, change can be described as experiential - based on experience and observation. It is often referred to as a construct. But change is not always tangible and it can be cognitive, physical, psychological, and/or emotional. Humans love being comfortable. Comfortability provides both routine and a sense of security in an uncertain world. Change can be stressful, unfamiliar, and it can act as a threat to our comfortable routines. Of course when our world was first ridden by the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, that caused a lot of disruption and change to how we would normally operate.

Change can be both a positive or a negative experience. Improving your health, leaving a negative situation, or meeting some new people can all be extremely positive experiences of change. On the flip side of that, losing a loved one or health scares are examples of incredibly negative experiences of change. Change that we can consciously control or have agency in is exciting. But changes that are unpredictable and occur unconsciously require one to adapt to the new reality are frightening, overwhelming, and sometimes mind-boggling. Unconscious change can really shake up one's world and flip it straight on its head.

While researching change for this blog, I kept stumbling upon the academic work of Stan Goldberg, Ph.D. Goldberg's psychological work on change was catalysed by his mother's sudden passing on Christmas day of a massive heart attack. Obviously here, this is a very evident example of a negative and unconscious change. Successive to that event, Goldberg spent the next 25 years researching how people change. The homie collated everything that he discovered and established 10 major principles that encompass all self-change strategies. And because Stan is undoubtedly more equipped than I to speak on these change strats, I will now make a cutie list on Stan's change strats. Big ups to Stan for providing the goods.

Disclaimer: most of these strategies are not necessarily applicable to unpredictable change. Some of it maaaay apply, but it is directly applicable to planned change.

1) All Behaviours Are Complex

Basically, what old mate Stan is trying to get at here is to say that one should try to break down the behaviour. Psychologist James O. Prochaska, Ph.D. found that change occurs in stages. Essentially, if you want to increase the odds of a successful change, you should break down your desired behaviour into small and more self-contained units. For example, if I wanted to live a more healthy life, I would list the areas that contribute to my overall health. If you can work out how you can manage and improve your behaviour in each of those areas, the likelihood of achieving a healthier lifestyle would be much higher.

2) Change Is Frightening

In this second principle, Stan been stating the obvious: change is fucking scary. What Stan suggests you should do here is to, “examine the consequences.” What are the consequences of sticking to the status quo? And on the other hand, what are the consequences of throwing yourself into the unknown deep end of change? If there are more positive consequences - yes, consequences can be positive - associated with the change, you'll know what to do.

3) Change Must Be Positive

In the don behavioural psychologist B.F. Skinner's early research, he found that reinforcement rather than punishment is essential for change. Reinforcement means reflecting after acting on a desired behaviour. So Stan says, "enjoy the act, admire the outcome, and reward yourself" when it comes to change.

4) Being Is Easier Than Becoming

This one hit a lil too hard. Change is hard. It requires discipline and commitment. Both of which are things that I often find I lack. King Stan suggests that you should, "take baby steps, simplify the process, and prepare for the problems." Do not set unrealistic expectations for yourself. If you do that, you only increase your own odds of disappointing yourself. Not the buzz.

5) Slower Is Better

While you might be impatient and want to see immediate results of change, everything has its own natural speed. Stan knows best, of course. The homie suggests that you should, "establish calm and appreciate the path." You know I'm about to hit you with the classic quote about enjoying the journey over the destination. But hey, here it is actually psychologically proven to be more effective in behavioural change.

6) Know More, Do Better

Do ya research! No matter what change it might be that you're trying to implement, knowing about the inz and outz of your desired behaviour will help you a shit tonne. Stan the man (I couldn't get away without saying that once) says that you should, "monitor your behaviour, request feedback, and understand the outcome." Being active in your change and making it happen is basically what the homie is getting at.

7) Change Requires Structure

The word 'structure' itself has a negative and restrictive connotation. But sometimes, spontaneity (structure's fun aunty) is the quickest method to sabotage your desired change. To mitigate this, Stanny (not me trying to give Stan a new nickname for every strategy) says that you should, "identify what works, revisit your plan regularly, and logically sequence events." Kind of like the sixth strat, become an active participant in your change journey.

8) Practice Is Necessary

Practice makes perfect queens. And if Stanley (don't know if that's his full name or not but alas) knows this, we gotta respect the legend. In essence, practice of desired behaviours makes them automatic. Stanny says you should, "use helpers and practice in many settings." Those helpers can be friends to hold you accountable on your change journey. Having another homie aware of what you're trying to achieve is huge and could be annoying, but effective! As well, practising these changes in different environments will make maintaining them easier.

9) New Behaviours Must Be Protected

Hey now, peer pressure is a real thing! New behaviours are unfamiliar and vulnerable to external factors. Stan states that you should, "control your environment [work out what does and does not help your change] and use memory aides." Sweetie, you've gotta work for these changes, the changes won't work for you.

10) Small Successes Are Big

If you're able to celebrate the small successes, you won't find failing yourself as much of a common occurrence. Stan advises that you should, "map your success." Break it down, baby, you'll be a lot more stoked with yourself!

Stan outdid himself on contributing to this blog post, let's give him a hand!

Homies, change is scary! But if you take one thing away from this word vomit of a blog post, please let that be the fact that you are capable of dealing with change as well as being capable of achieving desired changes. Try to not let the rat race convince you that you can't, because that's bullshit. And by the way, that is what the rat race is trying to do. Uncertainty is frightening and overwhelming. Simultaneously, it is also exciting, rewarding, and stimulating.

Dear readers, have the merriest Christmas and the happiest New Year. Thanks so much for reading, I appreciate it so much. Lots of love, El xx

Artwork by Chloe Bolingford Thank you so much for reading! If you have any further questions based on this blog post or anything else in regards to this blog, be sure to get in contact with me through this website or through the blog's Instagram linked below.

LINKS: ~ Link for previous blog post: ~ Link to 'Born In 2000' instagram: ~ Link to 'Born In 2000' opinion form: Make sure you send through recommendations, considerations and comments in regards to this blog. If you have anything that your wanting to hear, Ella is listening! Be sure to subscribe to the mailing list and become a member to receive notifications and more information. This blog encompasses the life of a 22 year-old kiwi chica. Composed of stories, advice, life lessons, worldly observations and whatever else Ella's life brings to surface. For all of this and more, read my new found blog 'Born In 2000': established on the 28th of October, 2019. Where Ella Gibson explores her life that exceeds all limitations. Publications should be expected once a week. Be sure to take this present moment now and rock it!

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