Who Are You When Things Change?

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On staying sane in times of change. Part I.

Although we live our lives with a considerable degree of certainty regarding of who we are and the roles we play in our family and society, there are moments in which our own self seems foreign to us. We either feel that we have kind of lost ourselves, forgotten about ourselves or that we simply don´t know where it came from – some part of ourselves that arose in a given circumstance. These moments are, many times, a side effect of transformative experiences such as a significant loss or a painful end, the starting of a new career path, falling in/out of love, or becoming a parent. They deserve our careful attention. 

As we experience such changes in life, we need to re-frame our identities since these circumstances seem to demand something that we haven´t discovered yet or haven’t developed from ourselves (an impressive nurturing capacity, an unexpected resilience, a dormant creativity). We transition from A to B. During this process many things change, sometimes quickly, sometimes gradually, but the first thing that we need to do is to let go of the conditioning of our past experiences in order to flourish again in a new form, a form more appropriate to the present circumstance. 

This letting go is never about the past experience itself – let´s say that you had a boss who made you feel incompetent too often and you changed your job. You don´t let go of the skills you developed at that particular job, nor the colleagues you met or the experience acquired, but the negative aftermaths of the circumstance in yourself. The emotions (frustration, anger, regrets etc.), thoughts and judgements about it (I loved it, I disliked it etc.) is the stuff that, after a while, you will need to let go. And after a while because when the letting go phase takes place, we need to exercise some patience with ourselves and take some time out to process the whole thing.  It´s all about time during this phase.

 “Only understand where you are now, and you rediscover your power to make changes.” I Ching

The letting go phase is needed as much as a certain sense of stability since feelings of uncertainty are very present in the times of change. During this transitional time directing our attention towards what is really going on without prejudices (past experiences) is the source of sanity and the knowledge that allows us to make better decisions, to exercise our personal power, to bring out our skills and manage ourselves in a good way. It´s the knowledge that gives us some foundation and options, that makes us free. 

In order to “see” what is in there for us, what reality brings just in front of our eyes, we need a certain inner quality that is known as “equanimity”. In this context equanimity is the capacity that we have to bear the vision without fooling ourselves, to see what forces are working in the here and now, what are our available resources with clear lenses, without judgement or bias. Although a natural quality of inner balance, there are some exercises such as meditation that enhances it and develop it further and wider according to several scientific studies. And it makes sense because, after all, moments of introspection are not only delightful, but also and mostly, revealing. 

Equanimity can also be understood as neutrality, but never as indifference. Remaining indifferent is a form of escapism, a form of denial of the reality. But here reality is what we get and search for; it is our source of empowerment and sanity in moments of change and transition, not something to get rid of or escape from. Equanimity refers, then, to a certain inner attitude that enables us to deal with whatever is going on without feeling out of place, or worse, out of ourselves. And it is the safest passage to blend with reality.

More on reality, spirituality and all that happens in between coming soon.

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