As we are slowly digging ourselves out of the effects and implications of a global pandemic, we have learned many lessons - as individuals, families, companies, and societies. Constant change, and our resistance to it, have never been felt and experienced so directly, immediately, and intimately by everybody on our planet at the same time. We have all felt how uncomfortable change can be, have had to adapt in many ways, and it has taken us to our limits. But on the flip side, we have accelerated our personal growth and flexibility, have learned new skills, and have formed new friendships, connections, and identities.
Ultimately, it is the nature of our self-identities that drives our relationship to change. Who do we believe ourselves to be? What's our so-called identity - the way we define who we are and who we aren't, what we like and what we don't, and where and how we belong? What are the narratives and stories we live out as we interact with the world?
Who are we?
Who we believe ourselves to be often is much more of a construct than actual reality. We have learned over the decades of our lives to mold ourselves into a certain version of ourselves that is acceptable to society, to us, and to the dreams that we have about who we want to be or become. Hanging on to a clear definition of identity can give us an illusion of stability, of safety, of 'knowing' who we are and who we're not, and therefore, who 'our crowd' is, whose beliefs we share, and how we look at the world.
But this presents a challenge. The way we look at the world can have become so tainted by our constructed identity that we fail to see how our view of reality is itself constructed by the identity we carry. To make it worse, we usually don't realize this, and therefore often lack the humility to understand that we really don't understand it all. This has huge implications for change, as our identities, and the views of the world that come with them, resist suggestions that they may be mistaken, which means that they prefer the imagined status quo over change. We get stuck in judgment and a sense of entitlement that makes us incapable of recognizing that growth requires change, beginning with our own.
No transformation has ever happened without fundamental disruption, no matter if self-imposed or externally driven.
No growth has been achieved inside of what we already were or knew. Transformation always happens in chunks, by opening ourselves up to the influences around us, by being okay with disruption, by questioning what we are and what we truly know. Evolution, progress, and growth have always been driven and achieved by the joining-together of former individual entities with others to form new higher-order organisms that call more and better out of us. By opening ourselves up to the possibility of more, of different, of higher.
Now, for those among us who struggle with the idea and reality of change, who feel more comfortable with an assumption that things might stay as they are, it might be a relief to understand that human beings are quite literally change and adaptation machines - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
We are programmed for growth and change. You are much better at change than you think you are.
If we have needed this last year to understand how capable we are to change, to transform, to accept (despite all of our collective human resistance and frustration with it), it might have been the best teacher we could've asked for. We have learned important lessons that we can now draw on - lessons that shook up our identities, the status quo, and opened new possibilities of transformation.
Let change be our teacher. Let disruption be our friend. Let's open ourselves to what we can become if we are able to adapt and expand our identities.