May be this sounds like a contradiction but... the first step in any personal change and growth, is to accept yourself the way you are. To appreciate what it is that you don't like; those aspects of yourself and your behaviour that you would really like to change.
What do you resist?
So many people I work with in leadership coaching, and I too, often reject and push away the things in ourselves that we want to change. In my case for example, I was so dependent on the approval of others for my feeling of self worth. For you, may be it's that you're fed up with playing the tough guy, or of always making choices based on meeting others' expectations, or of wanting to deliver perfection in every task, or of cutting yourself off from your feelings, or of keeping yourself small, may be even invisible,... the list goes on, and on!
These things, and we all have them, are patterns of beliefs and behaviours that we have developed in order to survive and get on in the big wide world. Developed when we were young. Sometimes very young. And they served us back then. They got us to where we are now. Helped us to achieve some of the things we are proud of.
Often these beliefs and behaviours arose in order to protect us. And there is always, always a positive quality hidden in the thing we want to change. Pushing it away, judging it and rejecting it, will just ensure that it hangs on tighter to you, and will continue showing itself in a way that will frustrate you. What you resist, persists!
"But I want to change it!" you say,
"It's not helping me anymore, it's holding me back!"
OK. Ready to make a change?
First pause for a minute and ask yourself how the thing you so would like to change has served you and helped you, up to this point in your life? For example, my so wanting to be appreciated and valued by others ensured that I achieved some great results and had some great experiences in my education and work life. Things I am proud of and grateful for. Fun things. They helped get me to where I am now.
Seeing the quality in the thing I wanted to change, meant that I could relax with it and be OK with it. At least partially! And then it started to loose its power. I stopped rejecting a part of myself, and by that very act, it loosened its grip on me, and on my behaviour. I was then able to start focussing my attention and energy on developing myself; specifically the more autonomous part of me. The part of me that I had hidden away so well, I wondered if it even existed: She, who doesn't actually give much of a flying f*#k about what others think of her!
(Not) giving a flying f*#k!
Step by step, I practiced making choices and doing things that I felt called to do, regardless of others' approval. Often small things. Sometimes bigger stuff. And in doing this, I invited along the side of me that craves appreciation, and listened to her too. Now and then! She ensured that I paid attention to the input of others, prepared well, and didn't swing too far to the side of not giving a flying f*#k!
And practice makes (almost!) perfect...
I am now able to express both elements in my behaviour. It's not that I don't like appreciation from others anymore, of course I do (so please do 'like' this blog! Haha) but it no longer strongly drives - even overrides- my behaviour. I write this blog because I feel motivated to write it from within, with or without your appreciation.
Accept yourself the way you are
So, returning to my original statement; the first step in any personal change and growth, is to accept yourself the way you are. Appreciate the trait that you want to change for how it's helped you and got you to where you are now.
This creates space to then focus your energy on the new quality you want to develop. The tough guy practices asking for help, the perfectionist focusses on relaxing into '80% is good enough' and the invisible man takes his opportunity to step up and speak out in front of a group. Concrete steps, one step at a time, to becoming a more whole and effective person.
Shift from resistance to appreciation
What would you like to change? And what is it's greatest quality? Shift from resistance to appreciation. And create the space to focus on and practice the new beliefs and new behaviours that it's time for you to express.