As we leave January and continue to embark on the year ahead, stay with your resolutions for change! The key to staying with the change we want to create lies in our 100 percent commitment to our own happiness and well-being -- honoring that which truly makes us happy, joyful, purposeful, and fulfilled. We must "brave the change," beyond fear, busyness, comfort and the "unessential" things that keep us stuck in the same places.
Change Is Our Path To The Life We Desire
Change is the only path forward -- that is what our evolution is all about. The most evolutionary and renewing change is also the most challenging, because it requires letting go of the most entrenched and safest pieces of ourselves in order to allow new pieces to break through. Nature shows us this every day as leaves fall from trees to make way for fresh leaves, branches are broken with the wind and are replaced with stronger ones, water falls and is lost in the ground to create growth in another form, and the sunshine turns into darkness before it rises the next day full of light once again. In this continual process, one thing is certain--leaves will grow again, new branches will emerge, new growth will come, and the sun will rise in the morning.
The more we resist our own evolution, the more we suffer and feel expended rather than expanded. Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. All of those changes form part of our evolution -- the destructive forces as well as the creative forces.
Buddhist monk, Pema Chodron, teaches, "Everything is included on the path to awakening--every agreeable and disagreeable experience."
We cannot choose the agreeable and disagreeable experiences that confront us, we can only receive them as "wake up calls" along our path to awakening. When we master the process of receiving those experiences, without judging ourselves or others, we become the masters of our lives. We are no longer pushed and pulled by the events around us. Rather, we make our own choices to "brave the change" and evolve through the awareness and compassion we gain--through our closer connection to ourselves and others.
The Greater We Open Ourselves, The Greater We Grow: Even In Our Darkest Times
As we move through change, we can take heart in the teachings Pema Chodron shares, "No feeling is final." Even in our darkest moments, we must be strong in our belief that, "this too shall pass," and that light will come. This does not mean that we will not feel the immense pain that comes with trauma, grief, disappointment, and tragedy. Rather, it means we will sometimes feel it more acutely because we fully embrace it--we have opened ourselves to fully experience life and love, without shutting anything out. It means that because we have the capacity to experience all things deeply, we have the capacity to live fully. We have the capacity to make conscious choices filled with compassion and love that will lead to our most purposeful lives--to our evolution.
When we cease the struggle against disagreeable circumstances, and stay with the experiences in their fullness, we experience the vast potential we have to endure all things, and emerge more complete. Even through the loss of loved ones, their absence need not leave us empty, but leave us fuller from having experienced them in our lives.
Let Everything Happen: Transform Fear Into Power
Buddhist philosophy teaches us to "let everything happen." The most significant experiences will often trigger those parts of ourselves that require healing, that are the sensitive spots of our being that have resulted from past hurts, traumas, and other painful experiences. Rather than suppressing the pain of those triggers, or running away from them, our power is gained by staying with them and transforming them into light. Then, we can more clearly see the change we desire, and step into it, unencumbered by the pain that would otherwise hold us back.
Lao Tzu taught us to receive all occurrences, "Don't resist them --that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like."
We Are Already Validated Because We Exist: Passion & Purpose Are Our Best Guide
So how do we unleash the change, especially knowing that the greatest changes will often be the most challenging and painful?
First, we must believe in our capacity to create the change we desire. We must believe in our own being. We are already validated because we exist. There is no need to seek validation from anything or anyone. Rather, we must allow our passion and purpose to be our guide. Along our path, we will take steps forward and backward. We must be gentle and compassionate with ourselves. As long as we keep moving forward, aware of the lessons in each step, we are making progress. We are evolving, which is the point.
Second, we must not sabotage our efforts for change. We must be aware of how our thoughts sabotage us. We must have "circuit breakers" that will stop a limiting belief as soon as it emerges, and switch it to a positive belief. For example, shift the thought, "This won't make any difference," to, "This will bring me the happiness I want in my life." Say it as many times as you need until you feel it. Then, make the choice to stick with the change.
We must also be aware of how our actions sabotage us. We often seek relief from the "pain" of change in the things that produce negative outcomes in our lives, and sometimes the very things we are trying to change. We give in to our bad habits. For example, we drink a little too much to numb ourselves, we eat unhealthy foods to give us temporary pleasure--things that give us instant gratification but long term pain, and take us off our path of change. Our bad habits often hide our bad feelings, so we must not seek refuge in the habits that hide our pain or we will be forever stuck.
Third, the gain from change must be worth the pain. We must be aware of the pains and gains from the things that keep us stuck. Sometimes we get so used to the pain that we become desensitized until it reaches a critical point--creating damage to our health, our loved ones, our work, and our dreams. Likewise, we need to be aware of the gains from change. When we are clearly aware of the gap between the pain of staying stuck and the gain from change, we will be highly motivated to move from pain to gain.
Our Choices Create Our Change: Dream. Believe. Be.
The choice to change is in our hands. The Dalai Lama teaches, "The secret to my own happiness, my own good future, is within my own hands. I must not miss that opportunity."
So, as you continue into the year and unleash the change you desire, remember:
- Dream big for all the things you most passionately and purposefully desire -- you are here to be extraordinary.