Once when I was a teenager, I was sitting in an old chair in my mother’s pink master bedroom, talking to her about some now forgotten concern. Giving a mother’s advice she said to me, “Well, people don’t really ever change.”
I remember feeling suddenly shocked and indignant and scared. People don’t change? What?
Likely it was not the reaction she intended to evoke.
I thought to myself “Of course people change! How can they not? I will change! I will improve and get smarter and stronger and wiser! I refuse to believe that people don’t change.”
Of course, this was a classic case of my young mind not yet being able to embrace opposites as both being true.
Because my mother was right: There is something in a person that is the same from the moment they pop out into the world until the day they leave the planet.
And I am right: People can change a lot. Life changes you. Challenges and getting older and sudden trauma and hard personal work can all change you. Old age shows it. Yes, there is the unique signature of a person that is still there, yet how that signature has been sculpted over years is plain to see.
The kind of change I am so fascinated by is the kind of change that I inflict upon myself, purposely. The kind of change that evolves a person. Evolutionary change makes us bigger, wider, more flexible, more competent, more free and fluid. It gets us closer and closer to our true, original nature, which is Love.
You’ve met people like this — people that are free from the inside out; that can discern precisely, and are not scared of being tough and who also are huge-hearted and so full of love, even as they masterfully wield the sharp sword of no-bullshit that awakens, not cuts. They are aware, liberated from blind adherence to norms, and embrace their limited humanity with humor. They know just how to be right with you instead of imposing their own ideas on you.
The good news is that every single human being on the planet has the potential to evolve into this way of being. Including me, thank the Lord!
The bad news is that it’s scary as shit to really change. And painful. So most of us, including me, tend to avoid the kind of change that truly liberates. It doesn’t help that our brains are designed to give us warning/danger signals when we encounter something new and unfamiliar.
Venturing deep into the new and unfamiliar is requisite when the call for evolutionary change comes. We’re all being faced today with some serious new and unfamiliar, as the pressures of climate change begin to be felt and our technology is distancing us more and more from earth and from each other.
Other parts of our brain have to be online enough to override those reactive danger signals, to discern that some new approach, response, way of thinking or acting is healthier for us. We have to be willing to push through the sometimes massive discomfort until a new way of being becomes familiar enough to feel comfortable.
Then there is the fact that we ourselves cannot see the obstacles that keep us from staying small and safe (and numbed and addicted and distracted). If anyone tries to touch those mechanisms of defense . . . woe be to them! We clobber them!! Defending our very lives! At every turn, we avoid change at all costs. We don’t even realize we’re doing it.
You’ve seen this in others. Know that you do it too. I do it.
The really super good news is that real, sustainable change — evolution of your whole being — is the most freeing, empowering, magical, meaningful, amazing feeling. It’s not a destination . . . you don’t ‘arrive’ at evolutionary change. It’s more like clearing out and opening up new space inside, which shifts your perspective about all the confusing and frightening things about being human. They are easier to hold.
I write this now because as an evolution junkie I am presently in the process of having my blind spots revealed in a masterful way by a coaching certification program I’ve gone and enrolled myself it. I am exposing my tender self to people I have great trust in — not because I know them, but because of the way they ARE; because of their inner quiet, their non-rufflability, their mature responses. This I trust, and so I am willing to expose myself; to have them expertly point to ouchie tender spots to show me where I am blind, and offer me practices that help me embody the evolution I’m ready for.
I find when just the right spot gets pointed out and I’m willing to let it in, a whole chain of insights ensue, and suddenly I am the one evolving myself.
I want to be a person who can be with another without teaching and preaching. I want to be ever more unboundaried inside and very clear and appropriately boundaried outside. I want the skills to do for others what is being done for me — evoking transformative, evolutionary change with the gentlest of touches.
So on the days when my inner structures are collapsed into heaps of chaos, I rally my courage and do my practices and allow my old ways to die, bit by bit. The heavy heart, knotted stomach and thoughts of terror is the price I pay.
I think it’s worth it.