This week’s Talk Tuesday led us to today’s topic: Change. Did you change because of a goal you set or did it happen as a result of self-realization? Did you discover you could not tolerate a portion of your identity or did a new branch sprout and begin to blossom?
Not So Easy
There are some of us who would rather crawl into a hole and stay there than change. Change is (difficult, painful, inconvenient). The mere thought of changing brings heart palpitations and hives. It always means work.
Why? To change we have to face the way we were doing things was not the (best, most effective, easiest) way of handling the day-to-day and once-in-a-lifetime stressors. Or we must admit our perception was askew. Or we must change our ideology, the core belief system within which we operate.
1. It is not easy to admit you are wrong, even if the only person who hears or knows about the admission is in your mirror.
2. Pioneering is not the romantic story portrayed in the movies. It is about lean times, hostile terrain and the things which go bump in the night.
3. Settling in somewhere new is a pain in the tush. Who wants to live in the Cardboard Kingdom?
Revolution is necessarily bloody. Changing yourself is revolution. You are revolting against what was and embracing something different. Occasionally, it is more like shedding a skin. When we begin to look at things from a different perspective, it can be relatively painless.
More often than not, when we change our ideologies, it is a painful process. We face the possibility we are not who we believed we were. To some degree, it is true. Rather than have a complete identity crisis, think of it more as growing up.
There will be some discomfort until you learn how the joints all work now and the way the muscles control actions and emotions, but fundamentally, you are still the same person.
Changing our day-to-day habits and routines is inconvenient. Whether we like to admit it or not, much of what we do everyday helps us define who we are. Our residences define our citizenry. Our job descriptions define our occupation. Our liaisons define our social standing.
Some truly trivial things help define us. Despise housework? Check one:
- Slob (does not do it)
- Grouch (does it anyway)
- Con-artist (makes someone else do it)
- Refined (hires someone else to do it)
When we change our perspectives and opinions, we are inconvenienced until the transformation is complete.
I meant to do that.
Have you ever intentionally set out to change your character and identity? No, I am not talking about witness protection. Any of these ring a bell?
- Occupation change
- Religious conversion
We change our mindset to meet goals by focusing our energy to become something different. This can be as easy or as challenging as the goal we undertake. For the carnivore, becoming a vegan can be a trying challenge. For the dedicated bookworm, a Ph.D. can be a walk in the park.
Developing new character is a different kind of change. We handle it much differently than we do changing existing identity traits.
Many characteristics are built over time. The gradual nature of the growth eases the growing pains. Becoming a parent is a good example of gradual growth, yet it has a roller coaster effect.
At the moment we discover we are going to be Parent, there is excitement, anxiety, fear and exhilaration squeezed into approximately 0.0062 nanoseconds. Over the course of pregnancy, the idea grow on and with us.
Some days the growing pains of negative emotions are tough. Other days, the positive emotions are just the liniment we need to ease aching feelings. At the moment of birth, we experience the same 0.0062 nanoseconds, but it is a familiar event this time.
Parental instinct grows as our children do, with occasional growing pains associated most often with the toddler and teen years. By design, the years in between give us the much needed time to rest and adjust.
Keeping both feet on the ground is the only way to weather change. Do you have someone to talk to when the world seems off kilter? Do you have a place to go where everything feels right? Is there a song which soothes the changeling beast? What grounds you?
Internally, we each have identity markers which do not change. Sex is one such marker. We can look in the mirror and announce it, or at least be reminded of it. Breath and heartbeat are, too. Survival is discounted more often than it should. Listen to them to remember you are still fundamentally the same person.
The Tree of Life
Whether we are turning over a new leaf or branching out, we change our identities all the time. Little changes or massive ones, our identities shift with each life event we experience from birthdays to career moves to funerals.
Like a tree bending in the wind, our roots stay planted firmly in the ground.
What unintended change turned out to be the most beneficial for you? What is the biggest change you decided to make? What keeps you grounded?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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