We are often afraid of change and are clouded with the fear of “what if” and “what will become.” This is future thinking which in fact is an abstract concept. Since the future has yet to exist, it’s only in our minds do we project outcomes, happenings, and cause/effect without actual proof and certainty. We may be able to make informed decisions, take educated guesses, and weigh out each possibility, but only when something materializes, does it become the reality—for better or for worse. We have the choice to propel ourselves forward in order to take risks and make changes or we can decide to stand still and let life unfold as it takes us along for the ride or simply happens around us.
Society, family, friends, colleagues, and the media place lots of value on one’s endurance and fighting spirit. Stories are recounted based upon failures that turn into successes. These anecdotes include going from poor to rich, sick to healthy, defeated vs. victorious, and depressed to happy. One tends to be defined not so much by the kindness of his/her heart, or the creation of a life that is authentic in his/her own context, along with strengths and weaknesses. Rather one is defined by the institution he/she has graduated from, occupation, relationship/family status, and social position — rooted within the material world of achievements and possessions.
When it’s time to make a decision to walk away, make a change, and go in a different direction that perhaps doesn’t fit the confines of what others may perceive and think to be true or correct, an individual can often suffer the consequences. By stifling what feels right inside or if something needs to be investigated further for personal growth, one may be held back by self-imposed and external anxiety based upon “how things should be” — which is derived from a makeshift set of standards.
Sometimes people, places, and things start in one way only to evolve into someone or something else. When someone or something no longer serves its purpose, there is no need to hold on for dear life and resist transitions and shifts in the tide. Often times the idea of “walking away” or “not fixing what needs to be “repaired” is looked upon as a sign of weakness. If one doesn’t put up a good fight, they are seen to be indecisive and passive. But even the most decisive and driven person knows when it’s time to end something so the new may enter.
We may try to convince ourselves along with listening to other’s opinions that we must remain where we are, that it’s easier to keep things status quo than to rock the boat, and to be grateful for what we have instead of striving for more. There is truth to this — in moderation and if founded through gratitude. But there is also appreciation for finding one’s way, listening to one’s own voice and the supportive voices of others who seek to be helpful rather than harmful, along with realizing that sometimes the boat needs to be thrown around at sea in order for it to arrive safely in the harbor.
My mother imparted a beautiful piece of wisdom to me that is so simple yet profound.
“Forget about the good you’ve done, but remember the bad.”
When I asked her to explain further she replied, “If you’ve done well for yourself or others, then there’s nothing to think about. But if you have caused yourself or someone else harm, then think about it well — so you learn not to repeat it again.” I believe this pearl of wisdom can also be applied when it’s time to change course…as long as it’s being done with good intention, there’s nothing to think about and there’s no looking back. Contemplation is needed if there is an underlying ill-will, because when it’s time to look back, there will be freedom rather than regret.