March 25, 2013

Spring Forward

Call it Daylight Savings Time, or the fact that open toed shoes are just around the corner, but if ever there was a time I find myself deep in thought over change and renewal, it's at the beginning of Spring.

As of late, I have come to realize that often times the people around us don't like it when the word (or the act of) change enters the equation. Quite possibly because for many, people equate change with a negative idea: abandonment, ridicule, moving on, leaving, isolation, frustration, etc.

When Spring is blooming in the air, though, change is seemingly viewed in a positive light: evolution, growth, blossoming, newness, freshness, wonderment ...

So how is it we are ready to run through the streets with joy when the buds appear on the trees, but when the people in our lives are changing, we want to assume the worst? And furthermore, even mock, ridicule, or even step away from them?

This has happened to me recently, albeit in subtle ways, with some people in my life. I am now at a point where I can step away from it and acknowledge that it isn't personal, but it can still be tricky to navigate. It's easy to fall back in to old tape with people who have known us the longest. And it's equally easy to respond by pointing the finger out of frustration.

What if - when those moments happen - when those we love are trying to keep us in the same place - we actually respond differently?

For me, it has been a huge impetus for changes in dynamics over the course of the last year. I remember rattling on about how frustrated I was over a certain situation with a recurring pattern of behavior - and how "no matter what I do, it just always comes down to the same reaction."

That was when the question was posed back to me, "Well, how would they respond if you didn't respond the way you always have? What would that look like?"

Giving a situation or a relationship a new response comes from a place of love and respect - not only for the other side, but for ourselves. If you're feeling like you're stuck in a pattern and not sure what to do next, stop for a moment and think about how you can react or respond in a new, fresh way. In as much as we are sometimes able to "predict" what someone else is going to do or say, the same goes in reverse. I will admit it may not always be easy - and yes, the unknown of what the new reaction or response may feel scary - but it's worth it.

We have to allow those around us to rise to the occasion and exceed our expectations. When we do not, we are literally stopping the hopes of any evolution within the relationship - quite possibly because at the root of it, we are equally afraid of losing control of the reaction (remember, most people find change as a negative). Expecting perfection is one thing - I'm talking about an expectation that when we enter a situation with the best of intentions - and respond accordingly - the dynamics can change.

It's a lovely, wonderful surprise to see any relationship evolve past the status quo. In fact, dare I say, it is powerful beyond measure. Yes, it is quite possible for someone else to "get it" before we do! If that weren't the case, what's the point of learning from each other? Aren't we all striving to learn the same fundamental life lessons? But as I tell my 8-1/2 year old every day when she's frustrated at her division problems, we all learn things on a different time table.

When you look back over the course of your life thus far, what has spoken to you more: people who have supported you through the process of change, or people who have judged you?

Which person are you going to be?

xx JN

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