What if your approach to life has actually made you live less?

Resisting change is futile. Wrong-headed.  

The opposite of the point of life.  

Life is a series of changes, and we must adapt to survive.

from a mid-1990s personal journal entry

Given that little taste of my collegiate journals, I imagine that it wouldn’t surprise you to learn that I was over-earnest and pensive in college.  But that pensiveness ended up being a fire-starter for me because it ultimately encouraged me to not just grow at that time of my life but to come to understand that it would always be not just important to grow but essential to my way of being in the world.

 Now when I look back at that journal entry, there’s just a little editing I want to do.

Embracing change and growth is necessary,

whole-heartedlly the point of life.  

Life is a series of changes, and we should adapt to thrive.  

Sometimes, we give a lot of lip service to the changes that we are making.  We talk and talk and talk about what we want, how we are open to growth but if we got really quiet and paid close attention (or asked our loved ones for their opinions on our growth), we would learn that we are just talking the talk and not walking the walk.

Talking about change really isn’t changing. Making the smallest step towards change is. And then adding one more step and another until suddenly a new habit or a new way of being is in front of you is actually not just changing, it is really truly living. It makes every day meaningful and expansive. It gives us a purpose, a sense of evolution, an intentional practice. And we are at our best when we are purposeful, practicing and evolving because it means we are in whole-heart; we intentionally show up; we are receptive to what life and others offer us because we believe we have more to gain, that others are in our lives for a reason, that someone else’s thoughts and ideas and wisdom can be just as vital to our development as our own, that we aren’t already fully formed with nowhere to go. And there is a realization that there is always somewhere to go.

When I talk about self-acceptance, for example, I am not talking about a final destination. I am talking about a way of being in the world. I am talking about a way to go through life.

Self-acceptance is a practice and not an end game. It allows you to give yourself grace when you wake up one morning with an eye swollen shut from pinkeye, your face puffed up from sinus infection swelling, and an angry rosacea outbreak. You look in the mirror and don’t love what you see but you also know that what you see IS NOT who you are. And so all you deal with is the information- oh, maybe I need to see a doctor about this or maybe I need to take the day off or whatever- and not the judgment. There’s nothing to judge here. You have some infections and inflammation going on. There are actions you can choose to take about them. And that’s it. Your worth doesn’t change. But did you not even notice the stuff because you are SOMG self-accepting? Maybe not. It’s just that when you practice self-acceptance, the information does what it is meant to- inform you. Not derail you.

When you embrace the concept that life is a series of changes, and we should adapt to thrive, the same thing is true. A friend comes to you and says she felt ignored when you kept interrupting her stories during supper club to tell your own, and you are not upended by it. You don’t tell yourself, “she’s being entirely too sensitive” and block yourself from learning from the situation. Nor do you just say, “I am the biggest bitch ever.”  Instead, you understand that this is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and to grow from it and so you examine the situation with grace and realize, oh, it has just been me and the kids for so much of the time lately that I am just aching for adult company and really did dominate that conversation or whatever the case may be.
Deciding to be observant of ourselves, to listen to what others have to teach us, to be open places a high value on our growth and evolution and is a vote of confidence in our self. It tells us that while what we have now is good- that we can enjoy life even more by taking it up a level.  And it acknowledges that we are capable of taking it up a level.
Sometimes we resist growth and change because we are scared of what it means. If there is room for us to grow, then we must be really flawed. And if we admit that, people will be on to us and that feels scary and what do we do with ourselves with all that truthiness?  But isn’t hiding from ourselves far scarier?  And isn’t just settling the scariest of all?
For me, the greatest liberation came when I realized that I didn’t have to be perfect.  That I didn’t have to know everything.  That I didn’t have to be infallible.  I have friends that I call to work through ideas and just the very ability to do that allows me to see even more possibilities then the ones that my brain can drum up all by itself.  In those moments, I am so glad that I was not too afraid to ask and that I had such a strong desire to know the way forward because it led me to a solution that I couldn’t have envisioned solo, telling myself that I had everything I needed already.

 Moreover, opening myself up to the possibility that I wasn’t meant to already be fully formed– that life- every day of life- is about forming you and so if you are still living, you should still be shaping yourself– has allowed me my greatest joys, my most infinite of possibilities, my best stuff.

If you could make yourself understand- deep down inside really understand- that you do not have to be perfect, that you do not have to have it all figured out, that life is a process and not a destination, what would become possible for you?

Imagine that possibility as just a beginning.  And get going.

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