Check all that apply:
Change is ...
While change always happens, sometimes we invite it in specifically. Maybe we want to alter something about ourselves—an attitude, behavior, feeling, habit, etc. More often than not, what we really want is for things to be different out there. In our mind's eye we see the world changing while we remain much the same, except now our life is better.
Years ago a veteran activist told us that if we wanted to create change in the world we must be willing to be transformed in return. He warned us about trying to convince people about what we believed without truly listening and being open to having our minds altered in the process. A large rip in reality opened up for us as the profundity of his observation and its implications resonated through us. Gradually we learned to spend more time asking questions of others and ourselves, especially how are we willing to change and be changed to create a different reality.
One of our clients had an employee whose communication style challenged her, so we worked with the employee to develop less contentious ways of expressing himself. When we asked our client how it was going, she said she was disoriented by the employee's new, more congenial approach. She wasn't used to agreeing with him; it felt odd not to have their same old arguments!
Check all that apply:
Challenges to personal change are ...
☐ neurological and biological wiring
☐ lack of resources (time, money,
space, knowledge, etc.)
☐ competing agendas
☐ familial or cultural opposition
☐ transgenerational legacies (stuff
that happened in our family before
we were born)
Given this list, it's a miracle we move forward at all. Actually people are becoming increasingly adept at making bigger and faster shifts. Why? Growing self-awareness. This is not something we notice on a daily basis, but if you think back to the mindset of your grandparent's generation and compare it to yours today, the psychological evolution over a couple generations is dramatic.
Expanding self-awareness is one of the great gifts of our era. We live in a cultural stew of resources that supports discovering the fascinating and infuriating creatures we are. While becoming supremely self-aware may not be at the top of everyone's to-do list, not developing our awareness in these times comes at a cost, like choosing not to learn how to use a computer or similar technologies. You can think of cultivating your mind and spirit as your investment in consciousness technologies.
One necessary ingredient for developing self-awareness is time, specifically time to reflect. In case you are not familiar with this concept, the idea is to stop doing stuff and instead think about stuff. This engagement with the mind is more along the lines of mental meandering (a.k.a. daydreaming) than anything Einsteinian. Some of our reflection may be structured—time with a counselor or attending a workshop—or it may involve a practice such as meditating or writing. The majority of our contemplation occurs at less obvious moments while we are doing essentially nothing or something easy that doesn't require a lot of focus like being in nature, taking a walk, bathing, or imbibing a favorite beverage. (Note: Reflection is allergically incompatible with texting, e-mailing, tweeting, and watching kitten videos.)
So here's the deliciously mind warping irony: we need to slow down to think if we are to expand our capacity to change quickly and successfully. By taking the time to ponder we are better poised to appreciate life's undulating rhythms, and to surf them with more skill and more joy.
Consider a time you wanted something to change. What were the challenges? What personal changes did you experience in the process?
Schedule some reflection time this month. Experiment with how and when you do it, making a point to give yourself more time than usual. (One client scheduled her reflection time between appointments giving herself a 15-30 minute breather before her next meeting.) At the end of the month, reflect on how it felt having more time. Warning: having time to think can become habit forming!
Wishing you all the time in the world,
Beth and Eric
This monthly slow essay is from Beth Meredith & Eric Storm of Create The Good Life.
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