My mom liked to move the furniture around. On any given day, and for no particular reason, I’d come home from school to find the living room couch on the opposite wall, or my dad’s recliner somewhere new. Those minor changes in the house made me feel disconnected and disoriented. And I’m only talking about the furniture changing. People? Now that’s another story.
I used to say “people don’t change.”
I have discovered, however, that people do, in fact, change. Sloppy teenagers become obsessively neat when they are no longer living with a parent or two. High school kids who graduated with a C+ average become straight-A college students when they find their passion. Siblings who used to ignore their little brothers or sisters are now parenting their own kids with immeasurable love and enthusiasm. A real estate agent who was once the number one producer in her office slowly burns out while her colleagues climb ahead. And what about the once-loving and highly sexual spouse who no longer wants to share intimacy in the marriage? Or the closeted gay person who finally has the courage to come out to his/her family and friends? Or someone who ultimately transitions to the opposite gender?
People do change. So why is it so hard for us to accept it in others? Does life’s manual come with a chapter on how to handle change?
It’s important to understand that we all adjust to change at our own pace. Honor that. Nobody else can put a timetable on it for you. If you’re being faced with a change in your life that’s not of your own choosing, and if you’ve never read, “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr. Spencer Johnson, you might want to read it now. Especially relevant is the concept about choosing to adapt to the change because it will inevitably lead to something better. This is true whether you’re getting a new supervisor at work, or your marriage is ending, or your best friend is moving to Singapore. If you choose to adapt to change with the attitude that it will eventually lead to something better, guess what? It will. You might get a surprise promotion from the new supervisor; you might get married again to someone who’s better for you; you might plan a vacation in Singapore and go on to Thailand.
The challenge is to shed our old habits, whether it’s the habit of a relationship, or the habit of stopping by your supervisor’s desk on Monday mornings to talk about your weekend. Be patient while you’re letting go, but not too patient. And while you can’t exactly see what’s around the bend in the road, it just might be a secluded lake, or the ocean, or a garden in full bloom, or a bucket of money, or a puppy. I could go on and on, but you get the idea, don’t you?