I watched as Patricia removed a well-used collar from Gnome, her Giant Schnauzer’s neck, and replaced it with a brand new personalized collar. She passed me the old collar and said, “He has had this collar for almost two years. IT is worn out now. I tend to replace the collar every 18 months. I wonder if he knows the difference”. Gnome had wandered away with his nose to the ground, focused and oblivious to the surroundings. The two of us are not convinced that he feels there is much of a difference to the change.
In life, change is the only constant. Even if you felt exactly the same as yesterday, something has invariably changed as in the past day, you may have received a new stimulus, exposed to a new concept, spoke to someone, or simply grew older.
Sometimes, the change is large enough to be perceived clearly, like choosing to start a new habit, job, relationship, or finding out something that dramatically changes your life like someone expressing his or her feelings for you, losing your job or getting pregnant and many more. In those changes, how do you react to them? Do you take them in stride, embracing every little bit of feeling and emotion that comes with it? Or do you try to ignore them, even denying them at times?
When change happens to you, something profound may happen, depending on your reaction. When you choose to ignore it or deny it, you remain the same… or do you? Let’s consider the opposite. If you choose to completely embrace the change, not only accepting the physical aspects of it but also embracing the emotional portions, it becomes much more. It ceases to be merely a change in your knowledge, your environment or your emotions, it actually presents the opportunity that allows you a change in your identity. And that, to some, is hard and often the reason why they may choose to ignore or deny the change.
Humans are creatures of comfort. Once you have found comfort in a way of being, having expertise in some skill or happy at your present state, it almost makes no sense to change that or give it all up for some unknown thing. That is just plain logic.
For some, it may not even be an ideal situation that they are in comfort with. They just simply have gotten used to that way of living that any change (even for the better) may be challenging and scary for them. They are addicted to their struggles. The fear of an identity change to something new and unfamiliar, even if it may mean an improvement in their lives is too much and they would rather stick to their difficult but familiar life and self-identity. They have a fear of success.
Well, I did say “almost”… If you are the type that thrives on changes, you may belong to one of two groups (and arguably, they are the same). You may enjoy the possibilities of the unknown, knowing that better things may happen or your situation is so bad that anything else may seem to be an improvement. You may understand that you are not your thoughts. Any change in your life is a change and may contain the possibility of improvement. You also know that anything less than an identity shift or change will not allow you to become a better version of yourself if you are not able to shed the old self.
You know that any change is potentially exciting, even more exciting to you than anyone else who does not see the possibilities. You enjoy changes that obviously improves your life but especially relish those that bring new challenges to your life, as you know that it is this type that when you have overcome them, you would have brought about not only an improvement in your life but also an improvement in your self-identity. This type of change is truly transformational, not just transactional.
For example, when you succeed in completing a course, the change would be that you have worked hard and succeeded as a result. However, if you had failed and taken it upon yourself to improve, try again and succeed, your change would be much more than just succeeding.
So, when a change happens in your life, do you embrace it and allow it to change your identity to possibly improve or do you still wear the previous collar of your life?
‘The old you must die before the better you can be born.’ – Anon