When a new year rolls around we often look to things that might improve our lives: small changes we can make, new habits we can adopt or old ones we can shed.
Sometimes, we get so caught up in small self-improvement tweaks or keeping the status quo that we neglect the real issues: the toughest, most transformative changes, the ones that will have the most impact on our lives. But this is no accident.
In general, we avoid the most meaningful changes with everything we’ve got. Because they’re big, and because of their transformative power, we’ll call them “Big Changes”.
Most often, the Big Changes have to do with one of the following:
- Living Circumstances
- Physical or Emotional Health
- Facing Addiction
- Some Other Fundamental Life Change
Big Change Theory
They’re the most meaningful changes, yet difficult. They are of the self-directed type, the kind that brew under the surface for a while. They’re born of deep desire, an inner knowing. Once born, they bring with them their own energy, even before we make them. We could say they arise from the very human quest for happiness, the life force, or our own evolution toward a higher good.
Regardless of where they come from, we know making them will result in very powerful and positive transformation in our lives, the type that permeates our being and trickles into everything else we do. Some say they are our aliveness coming to get us. Yet, we put them off.
Initially, we don’t embark on them for a variety of reasons: we’re not prepared, the time isn’t right, it’s hard, we don’t know how, we don’t want to hurt someone, our finances aren’t in order, there’s something we don’t want to give up, etc. And though the reasons abound, they really don’t matter much, because the energy of these changes doesn’t go away. Instead, it stays with us, just below the surface, fighting for our conscious attention.
At times we can put these changes out of our minds for a while, but they remain there in the background and continue to haunt us. They exert their force on our subconscious even when we’re not thinking about them. Still, oddly enough, we avoid them not just for weeks, but often months, and sometimes even for years. How does this happen, and why?
Sure, change is uncomfortable, we already knew that. And with this type of change we’ll often face much more of the unknown than we know what to do with. That’s scary, too. But it isn’t really fear that holds us back. It’s the misdirection of our energy.
The Holding Pattern
We tell ourselves we’ll embark on this change later, when we have more energy. We just can’t see ourselves having the energy, focus, and will power to make it through right now. Somehow, (we hope), we’ll have what it takes later. And therein lies the problem.
We always have a limited amount of energy and will power available to us at any given time. And we end up using everything we’ve got to hold things together where we’re at right now. We’ve entered the Holding Pattern.
First, it takes a lot of energy to keep the force of one of these meaningful changes at bay and out of our minds (which really doesn’t work, anyway). Next, we use the rest of our available energy trying to keep the familiar working for us, trying to keep the comfort in what has now become uncomfortable.
We choose the familiar because we think it’s easier, that it somehow doesn’t require effort and energy. And maybe at one time it didn’t. But now it does. Because when one of those Big Changes is born in our consciousness and brews there, every move we make to stay with the status quo, every amount of energy we expend not choosing that change, suppressing it and choosing instead our current routine, is extremely taxing.
We also think sticking with the familiar is choosing the path of least resistance. It’s not. It’s actually choosing the path of resistance itself. We’re holding back the force of that change on our minds and spirits, holding together our current unsatisfying circumstances, and all the while we’re scrambling to deny or hide from the discomfort all of this creates. The toll on our energy is enormous. All of our will power, all of our energy is directed at resisting, and that takes a lot of work. It’s why we feel so tired.
This is how even the thought of dealing with that Big Change becomes so overwhelming to us. It’s hard to imagine having enough energy for something in the future when the present is leaving us so depleted.
We go in circles trying to find smaller, more manageable things to inspire or divert us. To make the present comfortable like it once was. But nothing really lasts, or feels very alive. And once the diversion subsides, the discomfort returns.
When we’re in this place, inspiration is hard to find, and motivation doesn’t really last all that long, either. The impact of the smaller changes we chase instead is minimal at best, and nothing really, truly excites us. That’s because all the positive states we crave, along with the stuff of real, lasting change, flow through the same emotional pipes as that Big Change does. And we’ve got those pipes blocked up.
The Leap into the Void
Sometimes (but not always) time spent in a Holding Pattern can be used to prepare and plan for a Big Change. But that time is limited. There’s only so much planning and preparation one can do, because the rest of that Big Change often means flying through the great void of the unknown, and just going with it.
If you’ve got a Big Change on deck, I’m not saying to run right out and make it tomorrow. These changes often cause disruption before things settle down. They’ll be a lot to deal with for certain. But if you’re in a Holding Pattern, you can at least recognize that you’re there. Only you know for sure if you’re resisting a Big Change. And if you are, you’ll understand why the things that seem like they should work aren’t working, and why you often feel exhausted and uninspired.
However, when we do take that big leap, that first, committed, and sometimes irrevocable step into a Big Change, something amazing happens. All that pent up energy is unleashed. It’s becomes ours to use. We’re no longer in a state of resistance, holding back with all our might. Instead, we’re flowing with life. Inspiration and motivation are reborn, passions arise anew, and joy is found more effortlessly.
This isn’t to say that flying through the great void in Big Change is all peaches and rosebuds. It’s not. A different discomfort awaits us. Not the one of resistance, but one of newness, of the unfamiliar. We might find ourselves groping around in the dark for a while. Tears may await, too. Because now, the flood gates are wide open. There will be turbulence, and uncertainty. It will definitely be exhilarating, sometimes scary, and the charge will be high. But our energy will rise to meet us. It’ll be palpable. And then we can flow with it, use it, and leverage everything that’s been unleashed… It will be there to help us find our way.
Hurtling through the void, we just may learn how to fly. ~Danaan Perry