When I talk about change, I actually talk about growth. We cannot change into someone we’re not, we want to grow more fully into whom we are.
A bougainvillea might rather want to be an oak tree. She can work as hard as she can on becoming one, and she never will. She’ll always be a bougainvillea. That’s her nature.
She can become the best bougainvillea she can be. And if that’s what she wants, two strategies are essential: to maximize her nourishment, and to maximize her protection from harmful influences. With nourishment and protection she will naturally bloom and blossom, and become the abundant flowering plant she is meant to be.
Humans are much the same. Carl Rogers, the founder of human psychology, calls that self-actualization. The natural tendency to become more open to whom we are, what we are experiencing, and how we are relating to the world. It is the process of becoming more fully ourselves.
In this process there is no stage, no experience that is not welcomed. We don’t rush the little seedling to grow up. Or the flower to bear fruit. Or the fruit to ripen into new seed. We enjoy every stage for the beauty and uniqueness it holds right now.
In this sense growth is much like mindfulness. We accept our experience and appreciate every stage of our life. Even if we don’t like it. We embrace our stress, resentment, and anger and look into it.
We look into the conditions that give rise to our experience. Once we understand the conditions, we can remove any hindrances to our growth. Thich Nhat Hanh talks about wrong perception. Byron Katie offers The Work. Then we can see our lives as experiments in growth. We observe our thinking, speech and actions, and analyze the results. And when we notice something doesn’t work that well, we have a choice to change that behavior. So that we may all be happy, healthy and safe.
I wish you a happy and joyful New Year’s Eve.
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Radical honesty. Nope, not my thing. It sounds nice, but not for me. I rather believe what I want reality to be, than be upfront with what is true.
Byron Katie suggests we increase our self-awareness by turning thoughts about others around to the self. You replace the ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘they’ in the thought with ‘I’.
Castel Sant’ Angelo, Roma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I much rather not do that. It shows up as “I am not completely honest with others about my actions and situation.” I don’t like that at all. I prefer to keep my focus on the other, and judge him for not being completely honest. It’s just easier that way. I have no desire to focus on the not-so-sunny-sides within myself. I rather keep believing that I am completely honest with everyone and everything.
Hum. That doesn’t work either. It creates cognitive dissonance. My system remembers all the times I didn’t disclose information if I thought it would harm me. My system remembers all the times I presented myself much more positively than I in reality was.
Peter Senge describes personal mastery as the ability to be completely honest about your current situation and to hold on to your dreams. Personal masters are those people that don’t get overwhelmed with the emotional tension that arises when they see the difference between where they are and where they want to be. Or who they are and who they want to be. They don’t get discouraged when they are less compassionate than they want to be, they don’t give up when their mindfulness is not as full as they want it to be. The difference between reality and vision generates creative tension, and they use it take a first step to their vision. Their honesty helps them to identify where they are and buy the relevant map to get to where they want to be.
They want to arrive in Rome. They bought a map of Germany, thinking they were in Germany. Now they wake up to reality and realize they are on the North pole. That sucks. And they understand that their German map doesn’t help, and buy themselves a new one. Then continue their journey to Rome. They don’t despair for being farther away than they thought. They don’t blame themselves for being stupid thinking they were in Germany. They take a breath, nurture themselves, get the right equipment and continue their journey.
Hum, that sounds yummy… Maybe I should tell my friends that I have secretively been eating their chocolate, every time I’m at their house. To get more real with who I am. And then take it from there. On my path of more joy, compassion and harmony.