Updated: Apr 22, 2019
How do you respond in the face of change? Could you see change as an opening for a new path forward? Do you light up in the spirit of adventure or recoil in the face of fear? Is your attitude that you will handle whatever is presented or do you hold on tight to the known in hopes of preserving your safety and security?
If we are to find peace in this seemingly chaotic world, there is one ultimate reality we must come to honor in our lives: external change is the only thing we can ever count on. This article helps you shift your attitude to one of acceptance in a world that is beyond your control. Accepting, owning, and living this condition of human existence is the first step to finding and living a life of freedom.
Life is a powerful journey, a moving, shifting, flowing river. Just as we can never step into the same river twice, we must accept that “life is change.” When we fight this inevitable conclusion, we tend to grasp tightly to whatever we feel is our safety and security. Yet security is a grand illusion, and living in that illusion inhibits our growth with resulting frustration and eventual stagnation.
One of the greatest mistakes many of us make is in trying to control our lives and the lives of others. People who think they can “control” life invariably manifest anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and co-dependent behaviors. They live lives filled with tension, frustration, worry and anger towards the world and toward themselves. Transforming this illusion is the first step toward truly living a life of inner peace.
I invite you instead, to make the conscious choice to view your life as a grand adventure of the soul, accepting and flowing gracefully with whatever change transpires in your life. Further still, why not choose the attitude of allowing whatever happens to take the form of an opportunity? Therefore, no matter what happens to you in life, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” understanding that there is a deeper purpose behind the so-called “random events” of life. The challenge is to open one’s heart to the underlying message and trust that everything is happening for a reason.
Faith Shifts Our Heart
Faith that the universe has a profound plan for us is the key to acceptance of a world that often makes little sense from our ego’s perspective. As we develop faith, we come to accept that from all external events we can glean some wisdom and grow our souls. This transpersonal view suggests that the process of change is a requirement to growth.
Peter Russell in his exceptional book, Waking Up in Time, warns us of a potentially, fiery future for us all: “The winds of change are brewing into a storm of change – perhaps a hurricane of change. How can we cope with such change? If we are to survive the accelerating changes that are coming our way we need first to be flexible. We need to let go of outdated assumptions and habits of thinking that no longer serve us. We need to find the inner freedom to see things with fresh eyes and respond more creatively. And second, we need greater inner stability. We need to be stably anchored in the ground of our own being so that when we meet the unexpected we can remain cool, calm and collected, not thrown into fear and panic.”
Russell argues that once we find our center point of balance, the winds may blow, but we will survive as we open to whatever comes next. As human beings we walk two roads, that of earth and that of sky. We are asked to both ground our beings in the materialistic earth and at the same time offer ourselves in trust to the universal energies of spirit. As we accept the reality of change in our lives, we open ourselves to the opportunity for transformation.
Letting Go is the Key
So when life presents us with a circumstance that will change our lives forever, how will we deal with it? William Bridges, in his book Transitions, says that every transition requires a death before one can move forward. Grieving a loss is an essential phase for moving forward, so give yourself some time to grieve, let go, when the time is right for you, and choose to move forward in faith that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
For many times, these moments are just what we need to shift us into discovering a new perspective and a new way of living. Illness, death, loss of jobs, and loss of ourselves through substance abuse are a few of the many wake-up calls we are given to alert us to what is truly important in our lives. “Wei-chi” is the Chinese word for crisis. There are two characters in the word, one meaning danger, the other opportunity. Underlying every crisis is an opportunity for growth and a new way of being in the world.
Opportunity Through Suffering
Based on the experiences of his ministry, Pastor Wayne Muller shares in his article, Questions that Matter: Stories of Courage and Grace, that “something happens in a moment of suffering, something that can be quite precious—a moment that simultaneously breaks us down and also breaks us open.” We may not understand or like what’s happening to us, yet these moments of seeming chaos are actually opportunities for us to see that there is a new way out. Transition points lead us to the fork in the road where we are able to choose a new way of being in the world.
Will we choose the well-worn road, trudging along in the same old habits, beliefs, and ruts, or will we instead take the courageous step and venture out into the new territory of acceptance? Think of all the adventurers we admire who have done just this. It’s your choice.
Dancing Lesson for Your Soul Challenges as Opportunities
Imagine yourself, standing on a mountaintop watching your life going on below you. You can see it clearly and as you watch, you notice that there is something you are presently struggling with.
As you watch it from above, ask yourself, “what lessons can I learn from this difficulty? What gifts can come from my present suffering?”
Let your imagination flow and journal your responses.
If you are honest with yourself, you will discover that with every new experience you have, you learn, grow, and gain strength. Each of your life experiences holds a gift. Perhaps you will gain a new sense of respect for yourself or others, or learn tolerance or increased patience. Maybe you will learn that every now and then you need to lean on the shoulders of another, or that you have more support than you knew. As you learn to see with new eyes it is quite likely that possibilities you had never even considered will magically appear.
I’ll warn you in advance that this journey takes courage, trust, and fortitude. It requires opening up your mind and heart. The reward, however, is living a more conscious life, a life of integrity, balance, and love. If you’re dissatisfied with the life you have been living, why not give it a try?