Change happens on three levels. First - within our self, over which we have total control. Second - in the thoughts and behaviors of others, over which we have no control, but perhaps some influence. And third - in the big wide world out there, over which we have no control and almost no influence.
Obvious Truth: An obvious truth is that we can never control any event in the world more than three feet away from us. We certainly cannot change other people. And yet, almost all of our feelings of stress arise from our perception of others’ behaviors and our attempt to control other people’s behaviors and the world.
The Enlightened Soul: An enlightened soul realizes that the ‘emotional reaction’ to others’ behaviors is a sign of weakness and as such he does not respond to a ‘remote control’ (others behavior or change thereof) out there. Our belief shapes our perception. If we change our belief, we will keep our remote control in our hand instead of in others’ hands. So, in a world of rampant changes, you need to ask yourself 3 question. Are you READY? Are you WILLING? Are you ABLE?
Are you READY? The first principle of ‘change readiness’ lies in an easy to understand but hard to practice insight which reminds us that, “I cannot control anything or anyone in the world, all I can do is control my response to others and the world”. When fully inculcated, this basic truth begins to restore our self control and sets us free from the energy draining futility of constant failure. It’s this failure that creates the stress, not realizing that we are trying to do impossible task – change others!
Are you WILLING? Most of us want others to change first and when that does not happen, it creates stress in us. But if we can put a metaphorical arm around them, walk with them, listen to them, understand them, gain their trust and respect, we will remain stress free and the opportunity to influence them will inevitably arise.
Are You ABLE? There are many skills and capabilities that we can develop to ‘enable’ us to deal with a changing world. Being resilient when that changing world serves up ‘the unexpected’ means being able learn from adversity, apply the new-knowledge quickly and bounce back strongly. The capacity to stay light and optimistic, to forgive easily, turn any apparent problems into opportunities, help others and inspire others, are all recognized competencies of the change agent. But it still leaves us with one particular question.
Question: What are the key changes that you see are likely to impinge on your life in the near future?
Reflection: What skills, qualities, abilities etc. do you think you will need in order to navigate your way forward?
Action: Take five minutes three times every day this week and practice slowing your mind and just being still. Notice the effect it has on the quality of energy that you give to others.
Adapted from Mike George’s article “The Anatomy of Change” © 2012