Live A New Life Story™ Of Wellness
Mentoring Life Story Changes

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? Even when their lives depend on it? And so much is preventable.

• 61% of the U.S.population is overweight ( The National Institute of Health).
• 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 Survey).
• Stress undermines work productivity in 9 of 10 companies (Industrial Society survey).
Obesity, diabetes, and heart disease have reached epidemic proportions—and almost all are preventable (American Medical Association).
• Over 50% of personal bankruptcies in the U.S. are due to medical bills (Harvard University Study)

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 Author.
• “My anxiety took over.”
• “My doubt stopped me.”
• “My work eroded my free time.”

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 new territory.

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.

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. 7 Steps to Live A New Life Story™ is a new delivery system for life story transformation. This unique and effective program mentors participants to create strategies for success. This approach--the culmination of two and a half decades of helping people change and create new stories--integrates the dynamic insights of psychology and new research in neuroscience with the principles of strategic coaching to guide systematic change. This system of change includes the seven step ROADMAP™ for a New Wellness Story program to provide the fundamentals of lifestyle transformation and applications for success.

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.

Copyright David Krueger MD and MentorPath Publications

Author's Bio: 

David Krueger, M.D. is an Executive Mentor Coach, and CEO of MentorPath, an Executive Mentor Coaching, publishing, and wellness firm. His approach integrates the insights of psychology, neuroscience, and professional coaching to help clients to help executives write the next chapter of their business stories. Author of fifteen trade and professional books on success, wellness, money, and self-development, and seventy-five scientific papers, his coaching and writing focus on the art and science of success strategies: mind over matters.
A Mentor/Trainer Coach and Dean of Curriculum for Coach Training Alliance, he writes a regular feature column for Networking Times magazine, has been quoted in Money, Fortune, Forbes, Town and Country, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. Dr. Krueger gives keynote addresses nationally and internationally.
Dr. Krueger formerly practiced and taught Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis and was Clinical Professor of Psychiatry. He was listed in The Best Doctors in America (Woodward/White, Inc. Publishers) annually from 1996-2002, and was listed in America’s Top Psychiatrists (Consumer Research Council of America, Washington DC). He founded and served as CEO for two healthcare corporations, co-founded a third startup that went from venture capital to merger/acquisition.