A Walk Towards the Stars
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin
I was meeting a friend for lunch. We were sitting up in a two-story balcony overlooking Tempe’s Mill Avenue, enjoying the dull roar of the traffic below and the throng of college students nimbly weaving between cars to get to class. The day was sunny and warm, the kind of day that is more spring than winter but this was Arizona.
I haven’t been back in years. Not because the place reminds me of something unpleasant. My reason for not coming is the opposite. Mill Avenue fills me with happy memories of my own college days goofing off with friends. I like to keep happy memories safely encased in a snow globe of my mind, untarnished by time and progress.
My friend, a particularly evolved human being, was discussing our favorite topic. Our personal revolution. While we were excited about the future we want to create, we also knew the value of assessing how far we’ve come.
As you drive along on the road of life, a periodic glance in the rearview mirror is necessary. It prevents things from your past from sneaking up and surprising you. They do, and you will be surprised. Even if you are someone who possesses the calm capableness that only a lifetime survivor with multitudes of scars is rewarded with.
When you think you got it handled – bam - out of nowhere, you’re angry again over a past hurt. You’re ashamed about something you already forgave yourself a million times before. You’re resentful of the people you are supposed to love.
So you will find yourself disappointed. Disappointed in yourself for not reaching that adult place where there is always forward motion and never a backward slide.
I don’t have a name for that adult place. A higher plane of consciousness maybe? An evolved state of being perhaps? For now, we’ll just call it an “adult place.” A place of forward motion.
I mean, whoever heard of a butterfly reverting to a caterpillar. But we humans do.
After finding our wings, we then quickly find ourselves, repeatedly, crawling back into our worn shells.
Psychologists call this behavior regression. It’s a type of defense mechanism. A backward slide is change staring us in the face, and we feel overwhelm and ill-equip to deal with it.
But listen, it’s really okay. It’s okay to backslide. Embrace your humanity. Isn’t it great to know that you’re not alone?
Here are questions – distilled from one who is master of the backward slide - to help you get back on track.
What is causing me to repeat these patterns?
Should I accept this situation? If not, can I change it or leave it?
Is this problem truly a problem or is it my attitude toward it?
Is it possible for me to look at this situation or person differently?
By the way, that adult place we couldn’t come up with a name for? Brené Brown calls it “wholehearted life.” To want that life is to want the journey. The destination is a secondary concern. Brown on wholehearted life:
“Wholehearted life is not like trying to reach a destination. It’s like walking toward a star in the sky. We never really arrive, but we certainly know that we’re heading in the right direction.”
For more like this one, read “Find Your Center” by clicking here.