Recently I’ve been contemplating the concept of what it means to change. I’ve been thinking about change on a small scale yet I’ve been focusing on ultimately making big changes. These are changes so big that from where I’m standing now, I can’t envision the outcome, yet I know it’s there waiting for me. I wonder about what these changes will do to my sense of self and my emotional well being. What good will they bring to my life? Will they finally leave me feeling happy and satisfied? And where do I even begin?
Needing to bounce some ideas off of a willing sounding board, I sought out a dear friend who has given me inspiration and motivation for action in the past. We discussed these thoughts over dinner and although my friend did not express any specific opinions, our conversation left me in an emotional tizzy! I felt like this was a conversation we’d had many times before yet even though months had past, I’d made no progress with the big changes I desired in my life. I felt incredibly frustrated, even judged, and I wondered why my current life just doesn't seem to ever measure up. I instinctively reacted to these feelings of inadequacy by wanting to change everything about my life - instantly. I wanted my life to be grander, more meaningful, BIGGER, and I wanted it now! My heart was screaming at me to push though the process faster while my logical side slammed on the brakes and spoke of fear and regret. Frustrated, I tried to calm my thoughts and simply asked myself “What do I really want? And WHY do I want it?” I repeated these questions to myself until the answer came softly, and it said, “What’s the rush? Slow down. Enjoy the process, learn from the small steps, rejoice in the details, and smile at the subtlety. Your change is here now, in this present moment. Just notice.” And after sitting with this for awhile and absorbing the instructions, I understood that this is how real, positive, satisfying change happens.
Attempting to live a life that isn’t in sync with our own natural time table leaves us unsatisfied, crazed and feeling empty. Just as nature shows us in subtle ways how the earth is changing because of our choices and lifestyles, our emotions are subtle indicators of how sustainably we are living our lives. Pushing ourselves beyond our emotional capacities on a regular basis and carelessly wasting our emotional resources wears us down. We are left dried up, lifeless and numb, unable to express or even recognize our true selves. Moving too fast and constantly being distracted by what comes next - what we “should” be doing, what we “have to” accomplish, who we are “expected” to be - is living in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction. At the opposite end, getting ourselves wedged so tightly into a state of “comfort” that our desire for growth and progress completely disappears is living in a perpetual state of status quo. Striving to find the balance in our emotional environment is essential for living an emotionally sustainable life.
This life is not a competition it is a journey that is individual to each one of us. All of the small changes that occur in our everyday lives, most of which we don’t even notice, are imperative to the process of getting to our desired point of big change. We renew our emotional resources by taking the time to slow down, get quiet, breathe deeply, and become aware of the subtle shifts of change. Softly asking ourselves “What do I really want? And WHY do I want it?” When the answer is honest and emotionally sustainable, it naturally leads us on our life path to change at a pace that brings us happiness and deep satisfaction.