Change. Growth. Personal development. All powerful words that strike a chord with a noble desire for progress that most of us can identify with. Out with the old, in with the new! These rousing battle cries can stir a response in even the most risk-averse among us! But what does it really mean? We can get so fired up about these inspiring ideas for revolution that, in reality, usually demand so much more than we had anticipated.
How often do business leaders preach that change is something positive that we should learn to embrace? Or boisterous office wannabes brag that only the weak-willed and inadequate can't handle this roller-coaster ride to certain success?
So what makes us continue to strive for improvement, and how can we stay sane through the process?
Because you know what? Even when it's invited or premeditated (which is often far from being the case!) when shift actually comes knocking, it's here for the long-haul. It means business, and it demands results. It's a ruthless taskmaster - and BOY is it hard work! And the thing is, once you've opened the door, there is simply no going back. No refund. No choice. No return. It's started, so now you simply have to finish - sink or swim, for if you fight the mighty wave of change you will surely drown. Or at best be buffeted against the craggy rocks of guilt and failure, then spewed out on the shore of shame and derision.
No, our challenge here is to learn to ride those waves. Gear up for the challenges ahead. Always keep our eye on the goal. And always remember that no matter how dark the skies may become, or how choppy the sea, behind the clouds the sun is always shining, and beneath the waves the sea is calm.
"Yeah - great platitudes, Mel, but if you're so damned smart, tell us exactly HOW to do it?"
Well, I guess that's become my intention through this blog. It started off as a vehicle to vent my feelings. To purge my anger, disbelief, hurt and bitterness about the living nightmare that had suddenly become my life. To make sense of the journey - navigating the new roads that were opening up, and letting go of the routes that had closed.
But now.... well it's growing. I'M growing. And while I'm still worlds away from having all the answers, I have a whole heap more than I had just 12 months ago! And I'm now in the position where I can honestly and openly give thanks for what happened. Every single bit of it. In fact, every single facet of my life since birth - for without all the so-called good and bad events I've experienced, or the wise and stupid choices I've made, the successes and failures of projects over my 45 years on this earth, then I wouldn't be who I am today.
And today, I can look back at all of it with a genuine smile on my face - and the dawning realisation that I have never ever truly been able to do that before. At some point, at some level, there had always been a lurking feeling of guilt or shame that no amount of analysis or conversation has ever truly shifted. But now it's gone. I'm free. For the first time that I can remember. And you know what? I don't even know how it happened - or why.
But I DO know that now I'm on a mission to keep writing about what's happening for me. I know I'm on an adventure. I know I am responsible for my own experiences. And I know beyond shadow of a doubt that I'm about to step in to a whole new world of excitement and opportunity.
And I have absolutely no idea how on earth I'm going to cope. Or even how I'm going to survive long enough to reach that place. I just know that I AM heading in the right direction, and that whatever is now thrown up in my path, I have the tools and experience to cope with them. For I have found that when shift happens, the best route is surrender. And this is just some of what I've learned:
Feel the emotions - don't try to block the pain. Ask for help - for by sharing with someone else, both people benefit. Accept assistance - stop blocking or thinking we should be able to cope on our own. And be real. We don't have to put on a show - we never did. We don't "have" to be anything or anyone, and there's absolutely no need to seek approval - so be yourself, and not who you think people want you to be. For that's not real - and it cheats both people of an authentic experience in the process. And it's only once these protection barriers are knocked down that we realise they'd lost their value a long time ago, and had instead become a prison. They were keeping us down, not protecting us. For in the end it turns out there was nothing to be afraid of all along - only our own misguided fears.
Yes, change is hard. It's frightening. It's challenging. It brings in to question everything you thought was real. And no, it's not something I shall ever be able to look forward to - but it's something that now I can learn to embrace. For through the toughest pain, I'm learning to shine. And I hope my experiences help others to shine as well.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
(Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles", Harper Collins, 1992. From Chapter 7, Section 3])