The only constant is change !
Change! Evolve! Grow!! For this is to live!
These quotes circle us daily, appearing throughout our culture. I’m guessing they are so popular because more than anything else we are commonly bound by our struggle with shifts in the status quo.
I’m guessing that’s because the amygdala (the part of our brain where self preservation questions are acted upon) was designed for simple questions and simple times like:
“Gronk do I run from this T Rex or will it let me ride it” ?
that way of thinking was soooo 10,000 BC!
Now as continually evolving technologies and a rapidly shrinking planet have us in close proximity of all kinds of unknown, our poor little amygdalas are in need of an ‘all inclusive’ somewhere.
Then there the moments of exceptional change: death of loved one, end of a marriage, a new home, a new job, change in health.
These times in life tend to have us pining for change less overwhelming. Seeking more routine.
It’s at these powerful moments of change in our lives that we are most susceptible to forgetfulness, irritability and further, substance abuse, verbal/physical anger and suicide .
It’s as if we have an amount of different shit we can process and then we hit that predetermined amount of change we can take no more and we just want to escape.
Leaving me to wonder if it was this state that inspired the famous author of the unchanging high school required reading to say;
“Certain things, should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone, “
– J.D. Salinger,
While these may be the musings from a different era, back then things were done the same way across generations because part of parenting was to pass on life hacks to the next to the next wave- (now we have Facebook, day care and reality TV to take care of that)
The Internet changed the pace for us all, the result is exponential growth in awareness, and opportunity. Nothing is impossible and everything is changing faster than (at times) our ability to keep processing it all.
However the downside of the power of the internet is the pace it demands and the expectation of immediacy.
Change and lots of it – is actually the new ‘routine’.
The response to overwhelming change can often be disconnection. For example the reaction of a friend of mine who is going through separation from a long marriage, the twenty somethings leaving the nest, moving to a new home and a diagnosis of cancer was;
“I feel like I’m numb, things that I loved and engaged in bring me less- if any- joy.
I feel powerless, all my milestones have been smashed and I don’t really know which way is true north …so why bother?”
No shit ?!! That’s a Tsunami of change.
It seems that, like a lot of life’s lessons, the secret response to overwhelming change, is wrapped in a paradox,
It is at moments like the Tsunami noted above, that we feel most powerless. Yet it is precisely at the moment we acknowledge powerlessness, that we can shift to become aware of our ultimate (and only real) position of power to play from.
The ultimate gesture of power is surrender.
In that we actually have the choice to accept and surrender, and who isn’t aware that “choice is the privilege of power”.
And surrender centers around the acceptance of what is ‘now’ even when we might feel a wee bit frightened and overwhelmed “by the now” .
It is during the painful resistance to change that we are victims to the greatest fears. Those, as yet, unmanifested outcomes that we have concocted in the vacuum of uncertainty that proceeds our acceptance and commitment to change.
Surrender, however, is not for the faint of heart or the undisciplined. It rolls onto the scene at the crescendo of our resistance. Invariably at the moment when we think “I just can’t do this … I give up.”
When surrender and acceptance appear to us there is a palpable release from active resistance. It can be felt like the change in the air that occurs after lightening finally cracks the sky on a hot, humid summer afternoon.
And yet there is still one more shift to happen if we are to fully “embrace change .
The shift that happens when we acknowledge the outcome is not ours to control is the most revealing and transcendant.
This seems true because it is at that instant we realize exactly how vulnerable we find ourselves when the masquerade of indignant resistance has been removed.
Brilliantly put another way:
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation creativity and change”
Ultimately it seems our aversion to the feeling of vulnerability is truly at the core of our resistance to change. Yet it is the rise from vulnerability that we have the option to feel the most empowered.
The most difficult/painful part of change is our resistance to it.
We are the authors of both our challenges and our conquests-depending upon the view we take of them. Choice and our subsequent perspective is the greatest privilege of being human.
In many ways change inspires us, makes our heart race, and often ache. But are those not the moments we feel most alive?
It is our awareness of all this that makes change so frightening, so it’s hardly surprising that the “King of fright” has some of the most insightful words on the process:
“no one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side ..
Or you don’t”