Making Change Easier
Making Change Easier
by Gord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak
American President Barak Obama ran his campaign with one key slogan – We can change. His commitment to that idea would eventually bring him to hold the highest office in the United States. While enough people believed in wanting change in principle, to actually elect him: a more common experience is humans do not really like change.
The age old saying that change is inevitable is true. Without change we would become stagnant, whether that is people, organizations, governments and, importantly, our environment. A pond of standing water without fresh incoming flows literally begins to rot and becomes quit smelly. Quite an image of what happens when change cannot happen. We cannot stop people and things around us from changing, no matter how hard we may try. There is also no way to stop yourself from changing as well. In fact the more you resist the inevitability of change occurring the harder the experience will be and the possibility of ill health, both physical and mental, increases.
Change occurs because growth needs to happen. It takes place on many different levels, from the physical to the emotional to the spiritual. We do have choice around some change if we are conscious of our internal and external world, but if we resist we may suddenly see change happening to or around us. Change can come from the outside in order to foster growth on the inside.
Change is scary. It presents challenges forcing us to draw upon inner resources we may not have known were there. It forces us to learn new skill sets in order to reach our next plateau. It brings to the surface our own uncertainties about our ability to enter into another phase of our life. In short, it can make us very fearful and we can act from that place of fear in order to try to stop or slow down the inevitable – change.
Not all change is bad, far from it. Entering a new job, engaging in a new relationship, moving into a new home or adding a child or pet to our life are all deemed to be positive changes. What makes them positive is, we had a choice, a say or desire for these changes. Yet even positive changes can carry with them immense challenges as they force us to examine what we are experiencing.
A new job carries all the stress of fast learning curves and challenging new skill sets. A new relationship will surface many of our issues from early childhood up to and including unhealed hurts and angers of old relationships as we attempt to include a new person in our life.
What makes change particularly hard is simply the opposite of what makes it positive, that being, when we feel we have no say or no choice in the changes. When change appears to be thrust upon us we will almost invariably have a strong emotional reaction to it and attempt to control, stop or just plain resist what is occurring. The harder we resist something the more painful it becomes. The idea of “going with the flow” or “rolling with the punches” are probably the most apt clichés to help us through these events. There is no magic formula. Our ability to adapt to change is the inner resource we all need to learn and draw upon.
Honouring our Journey
In Buddhist philosophy, there is a very important concept called impermanence. In its most basic meaning, nothing in this world is permanent. Everything changes. Humans, in spite of being surrounded by the changing seasons, the cycles of birth and death, have a very difficult time wrapping our brains around the idea that we to have our cycles and seasons. This difficulty is caused by two things, one is our investment in keeping things just as they are; we do not like unplanned for change. Number two, in staying with Buddhist thought, the more attached we are to anything or anyone emotionally, the harder any change will be. Attachment is considered the root of human suffering.
Many people struggle with the idea of attachment and detachment. They often feel that to be detached is to not have feelings, to not feel love or compassion or even passion. Loving detachment, however, recognizes within an emotional framework, the individuality of each and every person. We are all on this planet for our own individual soul reasons. We have all come here to learn something. Neither you nor I know the real extent or the true reason any given person is on the planet or will ever understand the path each person must take for themselves. We may think we do but in fact we are not privy to such information. In the same way our own reason for being here is always an evolving mystery in which we never have the full big picture.
To practice loving detachment is to embrace the sacred soul journey of each individual while honouring their experiences and the choices they may have to make as they seek to fulfill their own soul’s journey. People will come and go in our live whether it is relationships, friendships or co-workers. Our task is to learn what we can while we have the experience of each other in our life. We do teach each other but only if we take the time to appreciate and comprehend what we give to each other as learning. Often it can be many years before we are able to see what other people in our life taught us. If we spent less time being afraid of losing them we would appreciate their presence as soul teachers on our personal journey of consciousness.
Detachment, while recognizing other peoples’ journeys, will allow us to see we are on our own personal journey and will honour the choices and decisions we must personally make in order to further our growth and journey. Attachment keeps us focused outside of our self, detachment keeps us focused on our self, while loving detachment keeps us focused on our self and is inclusive of those who cross our path.
The more aware we are of our self and the journey we are on the easier change can become. The more aware we continue to be the more we can identify and plan for change so that it does not have to be a huge upset. That is not to say unplanned surprises do not occur but if we know in our heart that we have an innate ability to adapt and change, we will be much better able to flow through the event without feeling like we are a ship at sea without a rudder. Humans are amazingly resilient and adaptable. We as a species would not have survived if this were not true. Now if we can only convince our self that we personally have these adaptive traits to help us plan for and navigate through the many changes yet to come in our life and society.