Surviving (and even Thriving with) Change
The topic of this MuseLetter is Adapting and feels like an organic extension of Cradling A Hurting Heart written about earlier. In the months between those topics, I have been deeply immersed -- sometimes almost submerged -- in the need to adapt to various new realities. Because life is inevitably a mixed bag of feelings and experiences, there have also been absolutely joyous, fun, and rewarding times plus sweet, meaningful, and soul-filling connections with others. Underlying them all, however, was the unsettling knowledge that life had changed and adaptation was required.
Because I had no idea how I was going to adapt and sometimes little hope I'd be able to effect change in compassionate and compelling ways, lots of primal feelings danced around the campfires of my mind. The mind-devils of Resistance, Blame and Shame (along with Anger) that I wrote about in Cradling, goaded my mind-angels of Acceptance, Compassion, and Gratitude with thoughts of, "You can't…. He won't…. Stop being selfish… Be a better person!!!" Or, probably more accurately, "Be a perfect person, woman, mother, mate…."
Thankfully, my hubby, Gene, and I had a completely honest and loving "State of the Union" talk on July 4th. The understanding gleaned from it is illuminating our present adaption path.
My first book ,The Courage To Be Yourself: A Woman's Guide to Emotional Strength and Self-Esteem, contained a major "how to" entitled the Three-A Map. I've touched on segments of it in previous musings. In brief, the map is:
AWARENESS: Become aware of your feelings. Inner awareness is the beginning
of outer change.
ACKNOWLEDGE: Tell trusted friends and/or counselors about your awareness.
ACCEPT: Honor where you are and what you are feeling. Be gentle with yourself.
You are okay just as you are, even as you seek to change.
In The Courage To Be Yourself, I pointed out that the Three A Map is a practical tool for altering the course you wish your life to take. I still believe that to be true and twenty-five additional years of life experience have also taught me that, while we can always alter our own attitudes, there are unalterable realities we are asked to adapt to, incorporate, and--with the help of intention and grace--eventually embrace.
Our Reality Now
Whether we like it or not, life is a continual spiral of transition and change.
As my son, Mike, sagely asked, "Isn't adaption actually a matter of survival?" Yikes!!! Mike's question caused me to become more more realistic about what's riding on my ability to adapt to what's up right now. In light of Mike's question and my awareness, Survival of the most adept at adapting seems to be a complementary addition to the Survival of the fittest adage. How we adapt to transition and change determines how happy, satisfactory, and productive we can be.
Various stages of life provide different AO's -- Adaptation Opportunities. Because Gene and I are older than many of you, it's natural that our AO's have to do with age and energy issues. In our State of the Union talk, the current reality of our union was lovingly brought to light. It is: After a lifetime of taking care of everyone and everything, decades of helping family, friends, and strangers alike, both constitutionally and emotionally, Gene needs to live a very quiet and simple life style. In order to maintain his optimal health and sense of well being, Gene needs to limit his exposure to stress and anxiety as much possible. The fly in the ointment is that I neither want nor need the amount of simplicity he does.
Adaptation needed! And adapt we will… are. We followed the three A's and became truly aware of where we both are, acknowledged it gently to each other, and are now in the ongoing process of accepting and adapting. The honesty, openness, and understanding we now share is allowing us to drop individual denial, resistance, and frustration and become partners working together to adapt to reality as it IS right now.
What About You?
What Adaptation Opportunities face you right now?
What transitions and changes are manifesting in your life?
Are you still in the process of becoming aware of needed adaptations, acknowledging them to safe individuals or groups, accepting reality as it actually is rather than how you wish it were? Is it possible to alter anything other than your attitude? How might you need to adapt?
We all adapt in our own unique ways. You will know the best ways for you. Personally, I need to wait for the campfires of my mind to cool before I can move willingly toward acceptance. Being aware and sharing with others helps the flames of my agitated mind diminish and allows me better access to the safe and accepting center of my own heart.
Life enhancing adapting is a moment by moment mindful choice.
Love and hugs, Sue