The Difficulty With Change
The way we meet change in our lives greatly influences the quality of our experience of life. Have you ever heard the expression “life is change?” This statement may be a bit more profound than most of us suspect. The statement is not “life offers us many changes.” The statement is “life is change.” This means that every particle of life is change. There is nothing substantial about any part of life except the constant flow of change.
If the above proposition about life and change is anywhere near correct, why would anyone have difficulty with change? Yet, have you ever met anyone that always faces change with ease and grace? Change, especially sudden unexpected change, can be frightening, unpleasant and unwelcome, which really puts a twist on the statement “life is change.” How is it that we allow life to become, frightening, unpleasant and unwelcome? I believe this behavior is connected to the other “un” word in the above sentence, unexpected. If we derive security and peace from our expectations of the way things are, or will be, any dashing of those expectations is likely to be experienced as frightening, unpleasant, and/or unwelcome.
So, are expectations a problem? Some would say yes. If we are expecting everything to remain the same, then we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. There is an old adage that goes, ‘There is an inverse relationship between expectations and serenity.’ This sounds nice, but is it correct? If one expects to be miserable, there is a high likelihood that this will lead to misery. Expecting to accomplish something increases our chances of accomplishment. There is something else leading to fear and discomfort when the unexpected arrives other than the mere presence of expectations.
We sometimes lose our sense of ground when the unexpected happens. This has much to do with how much of our identity is tied up with what has shifted. If we are used to being a certain way, and have a lot of investment in that way of being, when a shift happens in our reality, that no longer allows us to be that which we believed ourselves to be, this change is often experienced as overwhelming, dramatic, and sometimes life threatening. This is existential anxiety. It is important to remember that it is we who choose to identify with a way of being, and it is we who choose to hold onto that way of being when the world shifts.
It is interesting how much of a role responsibility plays in the quality of our experience of life. We want to believe that change happens to us, that we hold no responsibility for what happens, especially in the event of unpleasant, unexpected change. However, we do hold responsibility for what we bring into our lives. We are also responsible for the way we relate to it, and how we perceive it. My mentor and colleague, Dr Betty Cannon often says’ We do life. Life doesn’t do us.”We often invite the change that we resist so desperately.I will illustrate this with an example from my personal experience.
I once put out to the universe that I wanted to open up to unconditional love, unconditional forgiveness, unconditional acceptance. I also requested that the unpleasant drama that had been unfolding between my partner and me come to an end, or at least, quiet down. Then, in less than two weeks time, she left me in a very unexpected and unpleasant manner. This set me into a tailspin of despair, confusion, groundlessness, fear, and a questioning of everything I believed in. This painful disintegration led to my receiving everything I had put out to the universe in my request. I did not request that she leave me, especially the way it happened. I am still licking my wounds and wanting things to be different. Still there is no denying that my life is now filled with more love, forgiveness, and acceptance, and way less drama. Furthermore I also requested more abundance in my life and my business has since doubled. I find that the intentions I set have at least some influence on the events in the world around me. The meaning I make and attach to those events absolutely determines the quality of my experience.
This is equanimity, accepting change, no matter what it is. Accepting that on some level this change is rising up from the divinity that is you, and loving this change even as it stirs the anxiety that often comes with the unknown. This anxiety and the change is an infinite blessing. Life is change, life is an infinite blessing.
It is easy to like fluid
when it’s no longer scary.
Once the river flows past the carnage
and all the destruction of recent battles,
the smell of burnt powder and rotting flesh.
It is easy when it’s all flowers and meadows,
birds, butterflies, sun sparkling on my fluid movements.
It’s easy when it’s easy,
when the howling is a distant memory
and heart space is placid.
Heart fluid moves without interpretation
and the demons rest on shore sunning themselves,
belonging like birds, butterflies, sparkles, and fluid movements.
Memory dances openly when it’s easy,
paints the meadow with pastel impressions,
forgoing her primary pallet
of core insults and rocky regressions.
It is easy when memories are just memories,
sunning themselves on the shores of fluidity,
belonging like rocks in a river splashing agains all that changes.
All that is changes with the flow of the river.
A robin’s song reverberates, death in each breath.
Life spirit resonates
River’s eternal drone.
When it’s easy,
death and life make love at midday
on the open shores of transformation,
without the veil of secrecy or mythology.
Life is easy when it’s easy.
And drowns so easily in this sweet fluidity.