Change — It’s Going to Happen
Things Worth Considering, By Gord Riddell
February 2019 Newsletter
The age-old saying that change is inevitable is true.
Also true, people do not like change. Yet without change we would deteriorate, whether it be people, organizations, governments or, importantly, our environment. A pond of standing water begins to stagnate becoming quite smelly without fresh incoming water flows. Quite an image of what happens when change is halted. We cannot stop people and things around us from changing, no matter how hard we 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 bring to the surface unresolved issues from early childhood. Also, the unhealed hurts and angers of old relationships will simmer in our mind.
What makes unexpected change difficult is simply the opposite of what makes it positive, that is, when we feel we have no say or choice in the changes. When change appears to be thrust upon us, we will invariably have a strong emotional reaction to it and will resist, attempt to control, or just plain stop 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, called resilience, 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, the status quo; 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.
Our attachment to the status quo, stops us through fear of loss. There are two things we humans are averse to, one is loss and the other is risk. Yet we can never know the risk or the loss because of any of our choices until we move towards a new situation. The more we are attached to people, places or things the more we will fear the imagined losses because we risked pushing into new territories. Fear is the great illusionist, populating our every thought with images and feelings of distraught, destitute, lonely and failed existences, we turn back from those images and fear has won by enforcing the other great illusion of status quo. The reality is everything is in a state of motion, of change, even the universe. We have a right to be here and we have the right to fearlessly embrace uncertainty and our own growth.
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 true reason why any given person is on the planet nor will ever understand the path each person must take for themselves. We may think we do but in fact it is part of the mystery and we are not privy to such information. In the same way, why you are, or I am here, continues to be an evolving mystery in which we never have the full 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 life whether it is relationships, family, friends 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 learning is presented to each other. 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, our self-worth dependent upon the validation of the object of our attachment. 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 without fearing the loss of self.
The more aware we are of ourselves 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 that supports and is in alignment with our growth. That is not to say unplanned surprises will not occur but if we know in our heart that we have an innate ability to adapt and change, we will be 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 ourselves 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.
Yours in the light,
~ Gord Riddell