Those in the game of transformation have told me that “people don’t change.” What can change for people, however, is access to a greater range of choices. With greater knowledge of choice, I can commit myself, to choices that will have my life look different than if I didn’t know I had the power to choose. In other words, if I thought circumstances, my feelings, moods, and disposition, and the feelings, moods and disposition of others dictated what was possible, then I would likely settle for what I’ve got, resigned to the way things are.
I might not like the way things are; I may feel frustrated by the limitations I experience, but without tools or access to the range of choices I have, I won’t know how to change things.
For example, two years ago, I was frustrated by the lack of connection I felt with my family – my mother, father, and sister. Because there were issues of addiction in my family growing up that limited the intimacy I experienced, I was resigned to less than satisfactory level of connection today. This is despite the fact that I’ve had years of therapy, worked a recovery program and made amends.
After entering transformational work, I gained access to he knowledge that I was still harboring resentment; was still living with the expectation that they had to change before I could be close with them; and that they owed me something, before I could be truly open and giving to them. It became clear that I could choose to forgive, I could choose to claim my full adulthood and could choose to offer love, connection, forgiveness and connection without any expectation of getting it in return. I realized that to practice openness, honestly, love and generosity gave me the sense of intimacy I was living without. My power to choose how I showed up and contributed changed, and as a result, so did my relationships. “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” is what Gandhi said. Living it, opposed to having it as a nice idea takes courage, risks, and a willingness to let go of specific results and thoughts of “what am I going to get in return.”
My first call to my mother, intended to open new possibilities in the relationship, started with my heart pounding in my chest at how vulnerable I was about to be, and an uncomfortable realization that my ego was begging me to stop, to hold onto the story that she was worthy of my disdain and distance. It was so clear that my awkward, sincere openness with her was met with relief and gratitude. Our conversations had been pretty much limited to the weather and recent movies, becuase I hadn’t wanted to share with her how I really lived my life. When I opened up and let her in, I could feel a palpable shift to the tender new ground we stood on together. My commitment to weekly calls to her after that, became less awkward, and always started with me grounding myself in my choice –my choice to show up trusting, loving and open, despite any resistance, feelings of self-pity or resentment that may have been competing for my attention. Yes, I may have not changed –still had the uggy feelings come up –but I had access to choice, and a bigger, more satisfying relationship.
In my next few posts, I will explore more about change, and how it can apply to changing our environments, and dealing with issues of clutter.