There is a dichotomy in how many of us deal with change in our lives and within ourselves. On the one hand, we seem to be always looking forward to the next goal, the next stage. From the time we begin thinking in terms of what we will do or be when we grow up through all the milestones of life that we eagerly reach for from year to year, we seem to embrace the changes as a gate to arriving at what we think will be a more fulfilling place in our lives.
And yet, on another level, we cling to the security of what we know, what is comfortable, the semblance of stability. Depending on the circumstances, we waver between eagerly anticipating transitions and being fearful of them. Naturally, not all changes are pleasant or welcomed, but change in one form or another is inevitable. It is one of the few constants of our existence.
The abruptness and unexpectedness of unplanned changes in our lives accounts for at least part of the fear we have of transitions. We want to believe that we can control or stop the transitions that come to us. We want predictability in our unpredictable lives.
No less disruptive are the internal shifts that we all go through. I am generally quite surprised when something that had been little more than a vague idea hovering on the edges of my awareness takes root and establishes itself as a guiding principal in my life, altering both my understanding and my behavior. At any given moment, most of us are quite sure of what we believe, what we do not believe, what we will do and what we will never do. When these internal transitions take place it can shake up all or part of what we think we are sure of, about life and about ourselves.
These types of shifts can be quashed if a person chooses to ignore their advent. When we do this, however, we are actively rejecting an opportunity to explore ourselves more fully. Some of this may be due to fear, but I also think there is a reluctance to let go of what had been sure and certain to us. Contentment is a very comfortable place to operate from, particularly given the outside forces that bombard us constantly. And there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes we are simply unable to take the risk.
These internal shifts often appear abrupt to those witnessing them from the outside, but they are actually very gradual, beginning in some deeply buried reaction or thought. Their emergence is slow, like a seedling pushing up through the soil. It has been germinating unseen long before we are actively aware of it. And even when it breaks through, it may be too small to see or as yet too unformed to be recognizable for what it is. Therefore, when we do recognize it fully, it is deeply set within us, despite having a feeling of shooting up from nothing. We have the option of totally uprooting it, if that is what we wish to do. But we risk leaving a hole in some essential part of ourselves that may not be able to be filled with something else.
If only we were able to live into the changes that appear. If only we could respond with curiosity rather than fear, a sense of acceptance rather than rejection, a sense of adventure rather than reluctance. I don't know that it would make major changes any easier to adapt to, but it might. Perhaps such an approach would help us glean more from the experience. Perhaps we could find a security in the changing. Perhaps it would help us to grow into more authentic versions of ourselves.
Teacher Voices: Stewart Matthews - Here's another post in my continuing series on teacher voices. I'm interviewing some of my former students who have gone on to become teachers. In this po...
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