In my younger days I was naive enough to think I could control change. I’ve learned, but not quickly enough, that no one can control or stop change. And, here is an interesting little fact: Charles Darwin believed that those people who survive the ones who can adapt to ongoing change. They are not necessarily the strongest or the smartest, but they are the survivors. That thought of survival brings me to today’s topic of change and how to understand it a little better.
First, that things will change is predictable and inevitable. Think of those individuals you know who, despite painful adversity, have been able to go on even after their world fell down around them. These individuals accept - sometimes hourly - the inescapable reality of change.
Second, change is difficult. We humans seem to believe that as long as things remain the same we are safe, secure, and sitting as pretty as the Venus de Milo in the Louvre. Well, actually, she’s standing there but here’s what I mean. Using couple counseling as an example, I’ve worked with several men and women whose marriages ended painfully because one or both parties wouldn’t change a negative or rigid behavior even when they knew it was a problem in their relationship. Maybe it was pride. Maybe it was an addiction. Maybe it was repeating communication habits learned as a child that needed to be reevaluated and changed. Sometimes people hold onto behaviors out of a family loyalty but they are not emotionally healthy choices.
Additionally, and be encouraged here, Moms, I’ve also been privileged to watch hundreds of individuals’ relationships blossom, their intimacy deepen and the fun return when each person in the couple accepts new changes and does a little adapting to the stages their partner is moving through. It’s wonderful to experience that kind of emotional growth for them.
Third, change is rewarding. You were laid off, depressed and stressed out. Less money prompted you to take think outside the box and start a produce business by growing and selling your own organic garden vegetables. Now, not only have you saved money but you’ve learned a new skill that you feel good about plus. Additionally, your family is eating delicious and healthier home grown vegetables and you have a reputation for being very resourceful and organic. Carry it the next step further and have the kids involved where they learn how far a dollar goes and put them on commission! Seriously.
Fourth, and I think this is the most empowering stage, change is adopting the words the American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, wrote in his Serenity Prayer about accepting the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference. I try every day to live that way now. Yes, better late than never. It’s made me feel more peaceful and less responsible for everything that happens in my world. Simply put, I’m happier now. So, Moms, I pass these thoughts onto you with the hope that they will help you, too.
Mary Jane Hurley Brant, M.S., CGP