Photo by Ana Martinuzzi on Unsplash
As the midpoint of the year 2020 fast approaches, it has unquestionably provided us with more twists and turns than even the best psychic could have predicted. During this time, most people were forced to make adjustments and for some, those changes were drastic indeed. The old adage, “the only constant in life is change,” has presented itself in an extremely uncanny manner.
What may be one of the most unnerving aspects is anxiously anticipating how life will emerge once some semblance of normalcy returns. The thought of not knowing how or when this will transpire magnifies the unease in society and hopefully will not spark other tumultuous or unforeseen events.
If there is one thought on which we can all agree, it would be that there is an inevitable change coming to all our lives.
Realizing, “the only constant is change” doesn’t require a scientific mind nor does it take years of wisdom to formulate. Undoubtedly, our earliest ancestors, and every generation since, believed a similar philosophical thought.
The first person attributed to making this claim was the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Nearly 2500 years ago, he was born into a wealthy family but forsook his fortune and went to live in the mountains where he observed nature and spent much of his time reflecting on those observations. He noticed objects in nature and that, “Cold things grow hot, the hot cools, the wet dries, the parched moistens,” and determined everything in nature is in a perpetual state of flux. He eventually concluded - Nature itself, is change.
Time for a change
As we currently observe things changing around us, it’s up to each one of us to adapt to those changes to our best ability. However, what is more important than adapting to these external events is remembering the changes we as humans constantly undergo. Do they help us to become more thoughtful, kinder, and compassionate? Or are these turbulent times excuse not to put in the effort for self-improvement?
The global situations for the most part, are out of your control. Being vigilant is certainly wise, but the final outcome will not be determined solely on what is best for your growth. Consequently, it’s vital to keep in mind positive, individual progress will help you get through this pandemic in the best possible way.
Whether or not we want it, change on a personal level is inevitable. Let’s take a cue from Heraclitus and look at nature. A pool of stagnant water will eventually decay and become useless to anything but decay and deterioration. Is it an unfair comparison to make a similar assessment about an individual who claims change is not a vital part of life?
Change can be hard
Change for some, is a difficult task. Not only does it require an honest self-assessment, it also demands we recognize there is something mistaken in our thinking or judgement. No one wants to readily admit they were wrong. People don’t plan celebrations honoring your errors or misjudgments. It’s a natural inclination to hold fast to our philosophical viewpoints and defend our intelligence. It’s also a natural inclination to defend ourselves when others seemingly attack us for how we think.
We’ve all felt that little rush of adrenaline in this situation. It’s a biological trigger based on our “fight or flight” response. But this kind of reaction doesn’t mean our original assertions were correct. The key is to observe our defensive reply while it’s happening and not allow it to provoke emotions which cloud our judgment or blind us from our own flaws.
Although there are countless ways our faults can be pointed out to us, frequently the main culprit for a harsh retaliation and swift denial, is our own fragile ego. When someone points out a deficiency in our reasoning, we believe it may negatively impact the way we wish others to perceive us. Or it may also skew the image in which we would like to perceive – or perhaps more correctly deceive – ourselves.
I am not suggesting we start volunteering for others to come forward and castigate us with their judgments on how wrong we are. Nor am I suggesting every time we are criticized the other person is right. It is about not fearing the perception we were or are wrong. If we are truly a person who continually strives to be the best version of ourselves, we are not incumbered by the possibility of having faults or being incorrect.
A key ingredient for change
Positive change first occurs because we need it. However, there is usually something which triggers the necessity for change. This happens naturally when we choose to be vulnerable. Vulnerability allows us to become aware of our weaknesses and flaws which inspires us to transform them. Being vulnerable also initiates more self-awareness which is the catalyst for improving other admirable attributes. It is the foundation for integrity and empathy. As we strive to increase these positive traits, it also helps influence others to work toward those very same goals.
Society needs to change the way it perceives vulnerability. Thankfully, more people are realizing being vulnerable exhibits a true inner strength rather than the perpetuated lie which traditionally taught it was only seen among the weak, submissive, and miserable.
Predicting how the world around us will change is nearly impossible. Too many scenarios are possible even for how life will exist in our own communities. Instead of putting ourselves through this mentally treacherous maze of circumstances, let’s focus on how to make the changes well within our own grasp.
Our own ability to change will always be a work in progress. However, unlike nature, sometimes we need to fight against natural inclinations and do what may not feel normal. Thankfully, the more open we are to positive change and work toward that end, the easier it becomes to transform ourselves and become an example for others to follow.
My thanks to Ana Martinuzzi on Unsplash for the beautiful photograph and I look forward to your thoughts.