Live a New Life Story® of Wellness
Why Is Change So Difficult?
In studies of coronary bypass patients, when their lives are at risk unless
they adopt healthier lifestyles, how many do you think change their habits? Only
one in nine.
Changing behavior is difficult. What keeps people from doing what they need
to do for themselves? What makes it difficult to change, even when someone's
life depends on it?
Here is a sampling of preventable situations:
- 70% of health-care costs stem from preventable diseases. (NY Times: The
Company Doctor, 6/14/07).
- Stress contributes to 85% of all medical problems (Cooper Wellness Program).
- 70-80% of physician visits are stress related. (US Public Health Survey).
- Stress is the number one reason behind sickness from work (Gee Publishing
- Stress undermines work productivity in 9 of 10 companies (Industrial Society
- 91% of cases of diabetes could be avoided by better eating. (NY Times: The
Company Doctor, 6/14/07).
- Obesity, diabetes, and heart disease have reached epidemic proportions--and
almost all are preventable (American Medical Association).
Some of the resistance is staying in a comfort zone of the predictable and
familiar. Another component of resistance is that our brains are programmed to
operate on the default mode of repetition.
One answer is to have a clear, specific, step-wise program for change.
A Psychological and Strategic Plan for Wellness
Wellness is a choice: a lifestyle that integrates mind, body, and spirit. The
experience of wellness includes self-acceptance, interconnectedness, meaning,
and purpose to consciously live well.
The Power of Story
We learn through stories. Stories are how we understand and how we remember.
A story is a system for holding together facts. A story makes things make sense.
Defense lawyers know this. Little kids standing next to broken vases know this.
We each have a personal story with a plot and storylines. Our beliefs and
assumptions ghostwrite that story. From an infinite sea of possibilities, our
software determines what we perceive and process.
We sort information into recognizable categories and patterns in order to
perceive it. We see and remember what fits into our "plot." Our plot consists of
our core beliefs and assumptions, which in turn transform all available
information into a system that makes sense. We then create life narratives
according to plot.
A life story--whether we read it in a bestselling memoir or participate in it
each day--contains silent assumptions and emotional scripts. Our assumptions
tell us what to look for, and how to perceive and process experiences.
When people construct their personal narrative, what they leave out, as well
as the beliefs that ghostwrite behaviors, are often invisible. A personal
narrative, unlike other narratives, is not announced directly. The narrator may
not realize the story he is living, and can even believe he is writing a
different story than people perceive.
We believe and remember only that which fits in our plot. What we expect to
happen in the present reveals instantly our experience in the past. Someone
abandoned early in life will expect more of the same in future relationships,
even though circumstances change. All subsequent information is absorbed,
filtered, and organized by that narrative plot.
We don't see things as they are--we see things as we are. We see what we
believe. And we're always right.
Two anthropologists were chosen to enter separate, essentially identical ape
colonies to live and observe for a year. They had remarkable similarities of
personality, philosophy, and education.
When the two anthropologists emerged to compare notes, they expected
essential similarities, but instead found remarkable discrepancies. One
anthropologist, after an initial period of transition, was accepted by the apes,
integrated into the colony, and achieved a unity and comfort with the apes. The
other anthropologist never got beyond the social periphery of his colony,
remained careful and vigilant, always seemed right on the cusp of a conflict,
and never reached a harmony.
The anthropologists could not understand the discrepant results, or find any
reasons. They puzzled for months, until they finally found the one difference.
The anthropologist who was never more than a vigilant outsider carried a gun.
His gun never showed; he never used it; the apes never knew he had it. But he
knew he had it; he knew that if things got tough, he had an "out." The
anthropologist who had no gun had a commitment: he knew from the beginning that
he would either make it or not make it on his own.
In retrospect and reconstruction, each of their assumptions created the
reality that they experienced.
We tell our story. Then our story tells us.
A Story Can Define Possibility.
In centuries of recorded time, no one ran the mile in under 4 minutes. It was
impossible. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile in 1954. Within months,
several others broke the four-minute mile as well. The obstacle of the
impossible could no longer be constructed. Today this is common place. When the
mindset of what is possible changes, reality then changes as well.
A Story Can Define Reality
Not only do we actively construct a story at the brain level, we also edit at
the same time. In real life, you can't create and edit at the same time; yet our
brains do on an ongoing basis.
A placebo generates the effect of the accompanying story. A patient is
prescribed an inert pill + some expectations. In the majority of cases, they
manifest. By anticipating an experience, one can create it.
The story generates a truth so powerful that it can even reverse the
pharmacological effect of a real medicine. The placebo is a white lie, a fiction
that becomes a truth.
Things that don't fit the storyline get unconsciously edited, or, simply fail
to register as relevant.
A Story Can Take Over the
Too often we see ourselves as the victims of the stories that we author and
the feelings we create.
Why Do We Resist Change? Even Changing a Story That Doesn't Work?
Why is repetition so compelling to intelligent people while it is so
illogical? Change is not simple. Why do we repeat behavior that doesn't work?
Those actions that lead to stifling debt, disappointing careers, or stuck
relationships? Then do it harder, yet expect a different result? Why is it not
obvious that trying to exit an old story by simply writing a "better ending"
only recreates the same story, and ensures that we remain in it? That a thousand
better endings to an old story don't create a new story? That the past cannot be
changed and is a settled matter?
Part of the Answer to This Question Is In Our Minds.
There is something secure and familiar about repetition. We repeat the same
story because we know what the outcome will be. Predictability masquerades as
effectiveness. The invisible decisions that we make daily become camouflaged as
habits, our collection of repetitions. Reactions become automatic so we don't
have to make a new decision in each situation.
We are always loyal to the central theme, the plot, of our lives, always
returning to it. Any departure, even temporary, causes uncertainty and
trepidation. Being in new territory--developing a new story--creates anxiety.
The easiest and fastest way to end this anxiety is to go back to the familiar:
the old story. And there is always the pull of the old and the fear of the new.
And Part Of The Answer To Why Change Is Difficult Is In Our Brains.
Old habits and accustomed behaviors are like being on a daily commute.
Familiar experiences travel along well-established neuronal connections with
their predictable neural networks. Though repetitive, it is a familiar
superhighway. To change is like coming to the end of that familiar route to
suddenly enter uncharted territory with no assuring landmarks. This is what is
literally happening in the brain as a grooved neuronal pathway and network--the
default mode--is changed to generate new experience. The result is feeling lost,
with temptation to end the discomfort of uncertainty by returning to the
familiar--the old story. No one is comfortable in the beginning to proceed in
The Good News
We are not hard-wired for life. With new experiences, new neuronal pathways
and new neural networks are formed. New highways to new communities in your
brain. This reprogramming can shift to more adaptive and successful modes. New
research shows that we can rearrange brain cell connections (neuroplasticity) as
well as produce new brain cells (neurogenesis) throughout our lives. In other
words, by creating new experiences consistently, we can generate new neuronal
pathways and neural networks. And, some remarkable new research shows,
consistently repeating new experiences even alters gene expression.
When we write a new story--and change our minds--we change our brains. Old
habits and accustomed behaviors are like being on a daily commute. Though
repetitive, it is familiar. To change is like coming to the end of that usual
path to suddenly enter uncharted territory with no assuring landmarks. This is
what is literally happening in the brain as a grooved neuronal pathway and
network--the default mode--is changed to generate new experience. The result is
feeling lost, with temptation to end the discomfort of uncertainty by returning
to the familiar--the old story. No one is comfortable in the beginning to
proceed in new territory.
An Application of Change
Each moment we actively construct what we think, feel, and experience. Every
day begins a fresh page. The dramas of everyday life do not simply affect us,
they are created by us. Yet so often the story closest to us, our own, is the
most difficult to know.
How can we tell our life stories to ourselves in order to know which aspects
of the narrative work and which need to change? How can we identify what is
missing, change an attitude, or generate happiness? How can we shift our
understanding to see life not as a multiple-choice test with certain
predetermined answers, but as an open-ended essay question?
Insights, understanding, even coming to the end of the past and ending an old
story are not enough to create a new story. The process of change itself must be
addressed in an informed and systematic way.
The process of change itself must be addressed in an informed and systematic
way. This approach integrates the dynamic insights of psychology, neuroscience,
and healthcare with strategic coaching to guide systematic change.
ROADMAP FOR A NEW WELLNESS STORY®
- Recognize Authorship
- Own Your Story
- Assess Plot and Storylines
- Decide What to Change
- Map Wellness Strategies
- Author New Experiences
- Program New Wellness Experiences and Identity
Someone has to have a new story to be in before he or she can give up an old
story. This guided journey addresses change from compromising past storylines,
as well as reinvention of a present life story for future success. The
principles and strategies of actively authoring change bring new dimensions of
personal, career, relationship, and financial success.
Beliefs drive behavior. Behavior drives performance. Knowing how to
strategically change your mind changes your brain and your life.
David Krueger MD, Executive Mentor Coach
Roadmap for a New Wellness Story®: 7 Steps to Enhance Health and
Seminar Series on 5 CDs + Workbook www.NewWellnessStory.com
New Life Story® Wellness Coaches Training
comprehensive program to License and Specialty-Certify Professionals to mentor a
New Wellness Story®. Groundbreaking research in neuroscience,
psychology, behavior economics, and quantum physics intergrated with strategic
coaching to catalyze behavioral change, rewrite mind software, and rewire brain
hardware. Presented by David Krueger MD. www.MentorPath.com/training