Space for Change / by Michelle Cowan

Let’s take a minute to acknowledge ourselves exactly where we are and as we are. Take a breath and accept that. Now, revel in it; realize that we are where we are for a reason and that we are all connected to each other.

Now, let’s look objectively (as objectively as possible) at our lives and the patterns in them. What do we keep doing that we don’t like? What are we doing that we do like? Are there things we want to change? And are we ready to change them?

I used to ignore that last question. My degree of readiness didn’t matter. If something needed changing, I required myself to change it ASAP. If I ended up not changing or realizing that I was incapable of change in that instance, I beat myself up. And if I did manage to change myself or the situation, but the result did not live up to my expectations, I gave myself a mental lashing for that, too.

Of course, my actions and changes rarely met the standard I had set, resulting in a perpetual cycle of shame. Today, I am starting to look at things differently.

I have been taught over the last few years to look at myself and my life without judgment. The way I am now is the way I am meant to be. Sure, future choices can move me in different directions, but the forces that brought me to where I am deserve to be acknowledged. All of my perceived flaws, all the hang-ups, the confusion, the circumstances beyond my control, and also the successes and good fortune, need to be appreciated if I want to see myself as a whole human being.

Once I have assessed these portions of myself and this life, I can understand where I am rather than judge it. Only then can I see if I am ready to change or not. By respecting my feelings, I can allow myself to hang back and not change now and then, especially when I’m not quite sure exactly what action to take. I must ask myself why I think I need to change and see whether my answer comes from a loving place or old, misguided beliefs that still hang around in my brain.

The greatest tool I have found in catalyzing change has come to light during the moments when I think I need to change but have a stubborn part of me that doesn’t want to. This emotional situation will often confuse me, and I begin wondering why I don’t do the things I clearly want to do. Why does a part of me hold back the rest of me that wants to grow?

The key to these moments is asking for willingness to change. I also see this as asking for a space to open up that will allow change to come. I don’t have to enact the change. Perhaps my divided desires indicate that I shouldn’t be the actor. Rather, I need to position myself as a vessel for change.

When I feel stuck, I can ask for a space to be opened up inside of me where innovative ideas can form, new desires can develop, and external change can creep in. Sometimes, the answer to this request comes as an unexpectedly free time slot on my schedule. Other times, it’s a person or thing that shows me a new perspective or way of being. And still other times, my desires quite literally change on their own in time, without me doing anything but asking.

We all wish we did certain things better, but why not seek to understand the reasons behind our current patterns before attempting to change? Perhaps where we think we want to be isn’t where we are headed at all. Instead of continually determining to enact change on ourselves and the world around us, we need to invite change in from time to time.