Saturday, June 26, 2010

Three Choices When Faced with Change

In the last few weeks, I have found myself embroiled in a situation that I don’t want to be in. A major client of mine changed their business model, which triggered a series of changes, which ultimately affected me. The client’s changes forced me to change. After being upset about some of these changes, and secretly hoping that life would go back to a previous time, I stumbled upon a DVD of a talk given by David Whyte. For those of you not familiar with David Whyte, he is a wonderfully eloquent Irish poet who interprets poetry for soulful people living and working and struggling in the real world.

In “Live in San Francisco” David reminds us to “look the present straight in the eyes.” He describes the three possibilities and choices we have when life “gently and not so gently pulls the rug from under us”:

  1. Pretend it never happened, and make people go along with you regarding the version of reality you are holding, which is a representation of something that at one time was real.
  2. Accept that it is happened, but “create a characterization of victimhood about yourself, so that you can bank down into a lovely downward spiral of self-pity.”
  3. Look it straight in the eye, and face both the bitter and the sweet of existence. Stop telling yourself all of the stories you tell yourself that aren’t real. Take the next step into the actual reality that surrounds you, instead of trying to find what is more comfortable for you.

I realized that I had been primarily vacillating between 1 and 2 above, neither of which was working for me. Without accepting fully that the situation I was in has indeed changed, I would not be able to make peace with it and intentional choose how to move on. I realized that I must choose the third path: taking the bitter and sweet of change, and being gentle with myself as I process through the loss of what was and what has changed.

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