Explaining Change to those who Misunderstand You

7 steps to shift from outer to inner stability

I change a lot. I change everyday. I find every day, every moment as an opportunity to grow. This frightens people especially my family. So, how do you explain change to those who are unable to understand?

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

1. Change is just me making a few additions and deletions:

Every day, I add something new to my life, remove what doesn’t work and retain what I am not sure about. I do this so I can make my today happier than yesterday. I am a work in progress and happiness is a journey. I am a dish that is being cooked all the time, and yet its flavors keep changing as I add new ingredients.

My flavor is what you see. The dish is what I am. Deep down I am the same (a dish), yet on the surface I have changed.

2. Change is me choosing the life I want, based on who I am today

People find it difficult to perceive inner power and choice. Your family and friends find it easier to change when they can find excuses based in the outer world—

  • “ I had to move, the house was leaking” sounds better than “I wanted a new location that resonated with my new self”
  • “I have to travel tomorrow, the boss has asked me to” sounds better than “I asked for a travel assignment so I could see a bit of the world”
  • “My wife will kill me if I don’t leave now” sounds better than “I just want to be alone for a bit and am fed up of sitting in this bar”

Change based on inner choice is oddly considered abnormal. Change based on helplessness is even more oddly considered normal. We live in a world of cross-purposes.

3. Change is me getting bored of what I am and what I do

Yes, you can get bored of who you are. You can take up new hobbies. You can give up all your hobbies as well. But, you might face resistance if you give something up. You give up a friend that no one likes and people applaud. You cease contact with a family member who no longer resonates with you and people question your every rationale.

People are resistant to what they don’t agree with. Not all change, only change that goes against their values. People may applaud you for giving up alcohol, but will question your every move if you quit your job and start your own venture.

4. Change is about you discovering what you value…every moment

We are surrounded by people who have no idea what their values are. They absorb others’ convictions and beliefs in the hope they will be accepted. When you express the fact that you are aware of what your values are (today), people get frightened. Individuality is frightening to those who lack it.

Further, telling those very same people that your values have changed because you have discovered new ways of being happy, induces more fear.

Your values are not intended to be fixed. The values you have as a 16 year old are not the same values you will have at the age of 25 or 32 or 47. Your happiness comes first- you use your values to explain your happiness. Tomorrow’s happiness should never become a prisoner of yesterday’s values.

5. Change is a journey, not a destination

You might find yourself surrounded by people saying happiness is a destination and you should stop growing once you are happy. But this seldom works- you will discover new things to be excited about, you will get bored with old things. You will find new priorities and discard old ones. Change is not a means to an end, it is a means to a means.

Change is never about reaching a destination, it is about knowing that you still have a million more choices and destinations to choose from, even if you have already tried a million things.

6. Change is achieving personal power

When you decide who you want to be, you gain inner personal power. You achieve the power to say yes…and no. You realize that you cannot control what others say, feel, think or do. The only person you can control is yourself. When you realize this, you shift your energy from outer influences (and blame games) to inner power (and choice to change).

Change is a two-layered thing. It is not just the power to change, it the power to choose that change.

7. Change is about realizing your purest primal identity

When you stop blaming external circumstances, your power shifts:

  • You cease to change because of others and external circumstances
  • You choose to change because you have to, compelled form within
  • Then you choose to change because it makes you fulfilled
  • Then you choose to change because it is a way of life, to avoid the suffering that results from attachment to a false stability

When everything is changeable around you, your friends, family, community, your body, your thoughts, your emotions, your priorities and your values, you come to realize the deepest part of yourself — the unchanging self.

Your deepest self (or soul) is just an observer, couched in silence. Everything else about you is not your true self, and will constantly change. You can choose whether to consciously accept this fact and experience joy, or be dragged through life kicking and screaming in misery as you are taught these very lessons.

Change begins with wondering what others may think, then moves to convincing others of your helplessness, and eventually evolves to finding your inner power and true self. By choosing to be a new person every moment, you begin living in the present, accept external chaos but achieve inner stability and peace.

From False Wounds to True Healing

How to know if you have healed (enough)

Image by 6155856 from Pixabay

Many people begin healing their pain by seeking wisdom, understanding themselves better, and accepting themselves. But their journey never ends. A person traumatized by an event continues to work on his/her trauma all through life. A depressed person embarks on a never-ending search for the perfect state of non-depression. I find this approach doomed to failure.

Healing is an imperfect process. Healing begins with recognizing our incompleteness and ends when we are comfortable with that incompleteness. Once healed, we continue to remain incomplete. Healing does not remove problems from our life — it merely helps us:

  • Move away from our problems (not everything can be solved)
  • Resolve and change things to a new state (resolve or restart)
Image by Zuckerschneggle from Pixabay, Author’s edits

The reason some people never heal is because they evaluate their healing in a flawed manner.

Healing is not always repair, it can be choosing a more natural state

We are works in progress. As we grow, we leave parts of ourselves behind. When we find that we have ‘lost’ a part of ourselves in healing, we believe we are still unhealed, which can be a mistake.

Children lose milk teeth so they can grow permanent ones. Babies give up soft skin and flexible joints so they can grow sturdy, muscular ones. Having milk teeth or soft joints are not wounds to be healed, they are just different states. Healing does not always mean advancing to a higher version of your previous self, it may just require shifting yourself to a new, more natural state.

Don’t evaluate your healing against someone with a different wound

Everyone is on a different life path with their own challenges. Everyone is working on healing wounds that serve as crutches they need to shake off. It does not make sense to compare yourself, a person struggling with math, to a person who is natural at math and struggles with poor communication. You might be a financially poor person with a healthy life- it would be incorrect to compare yourself to a rich person who relies on drugs and caffeine to work 20 hours a day. Since there is no one out there with the exact wounds you have, comparison doesn’t help.

Wounds are to be judged by your perception, not others’

Let me give an unusual example- many decades back, there was an influx of literature on abuse in the media. Upon reading this, many men and women re-evaluated their childhoods and accused their parents of childhood abuse. When they had been children, they had never felt it as abuse (they had accepted it as normal), but when they grew up, they evaluated their own childhoods through others’ eyes and ‘discovered’ wounds that they ‘should have suffered from’. As present day adults, they were well-settled, but in the process of educating themselves, they decided to feel wounded.

Move towards self-awareness, but beware of self-delusion. Education should help you evaluate your life through your eyes, not through others’.

True wounds exist in the present, false wounds exist in the past

Going back to the example above, the adults in the story were happy and settled. If they had suffered trauma, it would have been justified to revisit past wounds. However, as happy adults, the only reason they revisited their past was to validate their education and new self-awareness. This is a perfect example of ‘the idle mind becoming a devil’s workshop’. Since they had no specific problems in their life, they could not use their education to solve genuine problems. So they used their new-found knowledge to find ‘false’ problems to solve, creating a lot of suffering for themselves and others.

Others can project their wounds onto you

A good example of this is seen among over-cautious parents. A child who got bored in class 20 years ago got a scolding and a lecture. After around say, 4–5 years, the child actually found something he/she was interested in and did well at school.

Today, ‘educated’ parents rush their children to therapy, where they are diagnosed quickly with ADHD and given enough drugs to kill an elephant. The drugs don’t actually improve the kid, they shut down the ‘boredom-inducing system’ and also what remains of the child’s creativity. People are afraid to leave kids to their own devices any more, these kids are treated with their parents’ devices.

Bringing up children is partly a waiting game — the child has to grow at its own pace. When parents become impatient, they encounter fear and anxiety. When their child doesn’t grow fast enough to soothe their fears, they project it onto their children and label their kids as disabled.

We see this in relationships and marriages too. It was natural for people to be different a few years ago, it was natural for couples to fight. One partner usually became a more flexible partner, and the other a less-flexible directional one (irrespective of gender). This flexibility differed by area based on each partner’s strengths. Today, with both partners being told that they need to agree or divide everything perfectly, they ‘project’ wounds of relationship abuse onto each other. They rush to pre-marital and post-marriage therapy.

A bully at high school tripping you down the corridor is a high school grudge, it need not become post-traumatic stress syndrome. Being bored with grammar does not mean ADHD, it might mean you need to take a creative writing class. Fighting all the time does not mean your partner is abusing you, it might just mean you are incompatible. A new mother wanting to be alone with her baby might mean just that, not post-partum depression.

I am not commenting here on the validity or seriousness of psychological disorders. But psychology is becoming a bit like selling soap. You might need to bathe just once a day, but by showing you ads where microbes keep crawling all over your skin each time you shake hands or kiss, you are trained to use and buy more soap…or mouthwash. By constantly showing you examples of how you are doomed to unhappiness unless every single thing in your life is perfect, you are urged towards finding new problems and more therapy. With healing becoming a business, wounds become reduced to ‘creating a need in the market’.

If we don’t learn to be patient with ourselves and others, we shall continue to discover new wounds. As long as we search for proof that we have (completely) healed, we shall never heal. A healed person is not complete, he/she has discarded those wounds that serve them no more, and chosen the wounds that he/she can handle. Once you can handle a part of yourself, it ceases to be a wound.

When you rely on someone outside you — it might be your friends, a role-model, your parents, your spouse…anyone, to understand why you are flawed, you create false wounds. These false wounds can never be healed because they aren’t your wounds, they belong to someone else. True wounds are found through introspection, not through comparison.

Emotions are natural — both the ups and downs. The moment you divide emotions into ‘good’ and ‘bad’, you create wounds. The only way to be constantly, everlastingly happy is keep yourself pumped up through drugs and alcohol or by going insane. For everyone else, it is normal for emotions to go through a down cycle to help the body recharge. This down cycle is not a wound — it is how we remain physiologically and mentally stable.

It is okay to be happy and unwounded. Others’ discomfort with who we are does not mean we are flawed or wounded. We need to judge our happiness and pain by our own standards, not those of society. We will find your deepest joy when we see pain and obstacles as challenges to help us grow, not as wounds that need constant healing.

This article is related to my earlier post:

View at Medium.com

Finding Yourself Through Boundaries

Photo by Nick Tiemeyer on Unsplash

Babies learn to set boundaries naturally- you step out of their sight, they cry. You feed them too much food, they expel substances all over you. You don’t leave them alone; they aim a few kicks into your sternum.

When those babies grow up, they undergo societal amnesia. They forget how to say no. They learn to please everyone at their expense. They learn to bully others at others’ expense. When these adults have their own babies, they restart the brainwashing cycle- shaping their babies to be obedient citizens or chaos in motion. Having observed these patterns in many around me (not to forget myself), I felt it might be time to run a refresher on why we need boundaries:

1. Boundaries define what you do

This applies to how we relate to authority- be it our parents, employers, spouses or even our lawyers. If you are in a relationship- personal or professional with someone, you need to know what each of you is going to do. Granted that a lot may be ambiguous not clean cut- say who is going to drop off the kids to school next week, but boundaries help define what you bring to the table. More importantly, they help define what you do not.

Which brings me to…

2. Boundaries help express who you are

If you do all of the work in a relationship (at home or work), then you don’t need the other person around except as an ornament. Sure, there are relationships where your partner may not contribute intellectually or physically, but might provide emotional support. If you are managing every aspect of a relationship by yourself, you might want to (genuinely) ask if you gain any value from the relationship.

Which means…

3. Boundaries give you purpose

Yup. Romantic relationships have a purpose. Friendships do, however casual they might be. Work has a monetary goal. You might not like taking a cold hard look at your relationships, but if your best friend suddenly starts criticizing you every chance he gets, or shows little interest in your life, you have reached a stalemate. If your relationship is in the dead zone, you don’t need boundaries. Conversely, if you want a healthy relationship (without being a doormat or bully), you need boundaries.

Which implies…

4. Boundaries are an investment

Boundaries don’t count if there is no one on the other side. You can put up all the fences you want, but if you don’t have someone (or something like a cow) that is trying to barge into your garden, building a fence will be a wasted effort. Set boundaries when you are sure they will be respected. And remember, when you set up your fence, it marks your neighbor’s property as well. Your boundaries impact others’ as well- you might do well not to stray into their pastures.

5. Boundaries help you focus, not compromise

If you enter a relationship passively, from a place of fear or insecurity, you might focus on keeping the other person out of your space, than defining your own space. This is rarely sustainable. It brings to mind the story of the boy who plugs his finger into the dyke to keep the sea from flooding Holland- you will have to keep your finger in that hole constantly, without being able to move away. If you spend your time fighting to maintain your boundaries, you won’t have much energy left to enjoy your space. Focus on what you need and maximize it, rather than minimizing what enters your space.

6. Boundaries evolve as you grow

As a child, you might have wanted little from the world, the adult ‘you’ seeks a larger playground. Your boundaries will, and should, change in sync with your evolving self. This means that your relationship will undergo changes as both of you seek different things from each other and the world around you. This means that if you and a partner (again personal or work-related) do start traveling in different directions, there may no longer be a need for boundaries. Boundaries are only essential when you are traveling the same path and exploring the same space.

A few final thoughts…

Learning to set boundaries is not natural for many. A great book that can help you get started is Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud . Boundaries are everywhere. You have the freedom to read, comment and (not?) disagree with this article because I respect your boundaries. It is easy to allow people in to make them happy. It is easy to trample over others and make everyone around you miserable. We need maturity and a balanced ego to find and hit the sweet spot.