“Sometimes change is thrust upon us, while other times we plan it. For many, change is a great source of stress because the outcome of change cannot be known in advance. That is a known outcome. There are lessons to be learned, deepening to be done, and inner transformation to take place. That is the role of change, and all change is perfect.”
COVID-19, social distancing, stay-at-home orders, lost jobs, homeschooling through online learning and social upheaval have all been thrust upon us. It is challenging and difficult to deal with situations in which we feel we blindsided or out of control. And, the current state of our communities, nation and the world definitely feels out of our control. Most of us hate not being in control or thinking that we are not in control. But, here’s the thing—we are not in control. And, we never really have been. But, that’s never really kept us from thinking that we are.
The difference between the normal status quo of our normal lives and now is that most people have realized that change is inevitable and that we do not have control over COVID-19. While most people also like the idea of embracing change, most of us resist it, especially in times of uncertainty. Given all this uncertainty today, I keep wondering—hoping really—that we can develop a new paradigm in this time. I want to see us believe that embracing change is truly possible and trust that everything has been and is always unfolding perfectly.
What other choice do we have? At least right now? As I wrote about in a recent blog, Are You Thriving Or Just Surviving? How To Thrive In Today’s Whirlwind World, we are not able to deal with the level of chaos and discord outside of us. Our only choice is to up-level our inner consciousness to deal with the external world.
As you’ve likely heard, what you resist persists. In a profound Psychology Today article, You Only Get More of What You Resist—Why?, author Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D writes:
To sum up, it can hardly be overemphasized that to maximize your chances of getting what you want, it’s foolish, and futile, to dedicate your time and attention to resisting what you don’t want. On the contrary, what’s needed is to reapply your energy toward what you do—and plan a prudent course of action to get there.
So what do you want at this time? How do you want to be? Are there opportunities in you embracing change in this time versus resisting something that is not even in your control? Have you given yourself permission to think outside the box?
Why We Resist Change
What is change? To begin with, it’s constant. So why do we resist it?
We resist change based on the illusion that we are in control and we think we can fix situations or make things happen. This is the illusion of control. We want things to stay the same so we feel secure. We get identified with the way things are, and when they change, our sense of self is shaken. Not our true selves, but the ego-self. Change evokes fear that our sense of who we think we are, we are not.
In my work—both personally and professionally—I am always looking to what is below the surface. My UPROOT curriculum is based on the metaphor of a tree and the root causes of issues that affect us most.
The Roots Of How We Resist Change
Almost all of us resist change rather than embracing it. And it’s usually due to what’s under the surface and how that shows up in our lives. Let’s take a closer look…
What is below the surface of resisting change?
Trying to find consistency in an ever-changing world.
Needing normalcy in order to feel safe.
The illusion that security will come from keeping everything/enough things the same.
The false belief that things can stay the same/don’t change.
Fear of the unknown.
How does this show up in our lives?
We attempt to control things, events and people to have the illusion of safety.
We feel that the sense of “who I am” is threatened by too much change.
We continue with old ways of being, even though they don’t work, simply because they are comfortable and reliable.
Skills to be learned…
Learn that your stability comes from an inner sense of security.
Start to recognize your controlling behaviors.
Learn how to stay open to all the possibilities, even in the midst of chaos.
Moving The Cheese
All this reminds me of a story I read years ago called Who Moved my Cheese by Dr. Spencer Johnson.
Who Moved My Cheese is the story of four mice. These mice live in a maze where they have plenty of cheese and are all doing fine until one day someone moves their cheese. The story then goes on to tell how each of the mice deals with the changing of the cheese. Sniff looks ahead and anticipates change. Scurry moves ahead and bumps into change. Then there is Hem and Haw who discuss, debate and contemplate versus moving forward or taking action.
Ultimately all four mice discover “the writing on the wall” of how to deal with change. Here are their insights:
- Change happens. Someone keeps moving the cheese.
- Anticipate change. Get ready for the cheese to move.
- Monitor change. Smell the cheese often so you know if it is getting old.
- Adapt to change quickly. The sooner you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can get new cheese.
- Change. Move with the change.
- Enjoy the change. Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese.
This whimsical story helps us understand that we can never just be comfortable with what is. The only thing constant is our world is change. We are ever-evolving physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It is an illusion that all things will remain the same. It is the human experience that we grow and adapt.
Which mouse are you? Do you see the writing on the wall? What resonates with you? What is your preference for dealing with change? Is it working for you?
We all have a choice here. I know times are hard and challenging for so many people. I lost my mother just a month ago, and I now believe it was COVID-19 related. I am sad, grieving and in the midst of a worldwide pandemic with all of you. This could bring me to my knees if I let it. I choose not to.
I write this with the hope that you will come to understand more deeply about who you are and what opportunities you have to choose differently in the chaos of it all.
One of my favorite, must-reads in graduate school was Margaret J. Wheatly’s Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World. In it, she writes,
We live in a time of chaos, rich in potential for new possibilities. A new world is being born. We need new ideas, new ways of seeing, and new relationships to help us now. New science—the new discoveries in biology, chaos theory, and quantum physics that are changing our understanding of how the world works—offers this guidance. It describes a world where chaos is natural, where order exists “for free.” It displays the intricate webs of cooperation that connect us. It assures us that life seeks order, but uses messes to get there.
The key learnings I took and still take from this book and her wise words are that: Relationships are what matters—even at the subatomic level; Life is a vast web of interconnections where cooperation and participation are required; and Chaos and change are the only routes to transformation.
Yes, this massive change did come unexpectedly and was thrust upon us. And, it is natural to want to resist change because it really does threaten our sense of safety and sense of self. Yet, by embracing change and choosing how and what you desire through a change process can bring more inner stability and choices. Staying open-minded in these times gives us many opportunities. As Wheatly says so eloquently, we need the new in order to create something out of this chaos. People, relationships, family, connections and collaboration are not new to us, but they have not been at the forefront of our county, systems and structures for a long time.
What else is possible by embracing change in chaos?
For me, it is to love, serve and remember that we are all connected and all one.
May this time provide for greater love and peace on our planet.
Here’s to embracing change.
Much love to you all,