Now, think back for a moment to one of the times when you thought, “Nothing ever changes.” Was it a happy moment? Was it a moment of uplift and hope? Or was it a moment of sadness and despair? Was it a moment when things were going wrong and you felt the feeling of hopelessness, and nothing would ever change? Then the moment or event passed and something changed.
Maybe the experience came back, or maybe it is a recurring event in your life as in an illness, or the illness of someone else. Maybe it’s a break up or a devastating divorce. I say “devastating divorce” because some divorces are not devastating, and it’s actually the best thing the couple ever did. I know of some of those!
The thing I want to point out is this there is NO moment in time when the phrase “Nothing ever changes” is accurate. It is NEVER a fact that “nothing ever changes.” I don’t like to use the word “never,” and in this instance the word is accurate.
Things are always changing.
Things are always in flux.
Let’s bring the thought that “nothing ever changes,” down to the lowest common denominator. The thing that this feeling has in common every single time, is US. It is the “ME” that is always present in every situation where I can exclaim that nothing ever changes ….. that it’s the “same ol’ same ol’.”
When I have moments like these (and I do), every single day, I try to ask myself a few questions. I ask myself if “I” have changed. I ask myself to look around and see at least one thing that has changed with the experience around me. Perhaps I can see that the venue has changed, or my clothing has changed, or that there are different players in the scenario.
Now, here is the tricky part, if the players have changed and IF I am still irritated and feel like nothing ever changes, COULD the problem be ME? Now you ask, “Hold on a minute Indrani, you want us to blame ourselves when crap happens? Is it not enough that “crap” just seems to follow us around?”
No, I am not trying to lay blame. I am asking you to investigate the situation to see if YOUR reactions and/or behaviors have anything to do with the recurring outcome of the experience.
Let’s take a simple example:
Let’s say I am driving, it’s a lovely day and I left the house being very happy. Suddenly, someone cuts in front of me and I start screaming at them. (Mind you, they can’t hear me because they are not in my car). In my car, however, are my young children. I’m taking them to school, and they were happy, too. But now they are scared and hate it when I scream, and on top of it I am cursing! I drop them off at school and I am still fuming at the “horrible driver,” and I forget to kiss the kids goodbye. At the end of the day, I pick up the kids and the teacher is waiting for me. The oldest has detention because someone cut in front of him in the lunch line and he cursed at the kid.
See the connection here?
Now, I ask the kid, “Why are you always in trouble? Why is it always the same ol’ same ol’?”
I have to accept responsibility for what I did in the car, and accept that it set the kid off on a bad morning. So, if I always scream and curse at bad drivers, then I have a responsibility to change my behaviors and model behavior change for my child. I have to be present to my part in the whole outcome of the day.
Author, Amy Cuddy, defines “Presence” as, “The state of being attuned to and able to comfortably express true thoughts, feelings, values and potential.” In her book, “Presence,” she tells us in easily understood language that being present in any situation allows us to be empowered within the situation. I may not be able to affect my desired outcome, but I will be able to think and act in accordance with my values. She tells us “it is NOT a permanent transcendent mode of being. It comes and goes. It is a moment to moment phenomenon.”
In the above instance with the cursing in the car, if I am HONEST with myself (honesty is one of my values), then I will tell the teacher that I lost my cool in the car and was cursing that morning, and I think I set my kid up on the wrong foot. If I am not honest, I tell the teacher that I do not know where the kid learns these words and it’s the father’s fault. Even though I have honesty as a strong value, I can still choose to lie and not live by my value system.
If you want to know your top 5 values, go to www.viasurvey.org and do a short survey and get your top values for free. Knowing them is one thing, but trying to live by them is quite another. Living intentionally and with our values is the foundation of our daily, even moment by moment practice. It requires us to be honest with ourselves when we mess up and requires us to have the courage to step back onto the values path the very next moment.
If you are in a work environment and you feel and think that nothing ever changes, I challenge you to live with your values and have the courage to be the one to change in any given situation. The next time you hear someone say, “Same ol’ same ol’, do the opposite of rolling your eyes. Be curious and say, “What do you mean?” Try to engage the negative person to see if you can change the energy in the situation. Do not succumb to the negative, step away when you feel like you are losing your own positivity.
You take control of YOU, and take YOU out of the negative equation. Give it a try and see if same ol’ same ol’ can become “same situation, different me!”
Love and light,
(P.S. The referenced book by author, Amy Cuddy, is called, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges)