Knowing that life is in a constant state of flux, many attempt to control their environment, situations, and others. However, control is an illusion, because at any given moment something totally unexpected can happen. Understanding this very principle, that change is an illusion created by the mind to mitigate fear of the unknown and anything that challenges the status quo, is essential in accepting what is.
Humans are creatures of habit, and if you reflect on what you do on a daily basis, knowing that you are going to work the next day, or if you are a student going to school, you’ll see that your schedule brings a sense of order and ease. Some individuals are extremely structured and create this life to feel they are in a state of control. Just recently I re-watched the movie, As Good As it Gets featuring Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear, and Cuban Gooding Jr.
Jack Nicholson is this famous novelist who exhibits OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, which, due to his need to maintain a sense of control, performs certain rituals like making sure his door is locked, avoids walking on lines or cracks, and is a germaphobe. However, unexpected life-events that occur to/for his neighbor and waitress force him out of his normal daily routine.
The more Jack attempts to get back the life he is accustomed to, the more he finds himself slowly changing. He is confronted with having to get in touch with his feelings, and his heart begins to open after taking care of a dog. He finds his attachments to certain obsessive-compulsive rituals that he thought were once to stay safe, shift to being attached to the little dog, his waitress, and becoming empathetic to his neighbor. Without even realizing it, the more he tries to maintain the life he thought he wanted, the more unexpected events come up to force him to change, and eventually open himself up to love and living life.
There’s one scene that is quite memorable. In the midst of all these changes, Jack goes to his therapist to make sense of all that’s happening. He shares how he doesn’t feel like himself, he feels queasy, unsettled, and in a state of confusion. This scene is representative of how increased awareness of your body, its reaction and response to stress or change, can make you feel unsettled and not yourself.
As you start connecting with your body’s signals and identifying how certain stressors or changes impact you, you may feel a sense of ease initially, but to then shift your ingrained behavior patterns, you may notice it creates internal and external physical distress. Recognize that anytime you shift out of an old behavior pattern, there will be a great amount of resistance, and you have to overcome the inertia of your set ways to establish new behavior patterns.
This is where timing and a shift in your value system will help you make the necessary adjustments in order to perpetuate the change of a new behavior. I learned that change occurs spontaneously once you hit the threshold of awareness, which prevents you from denying the fallacy of your old behavior patterns, and the willingness to embrace new behavior patterns.
Be kind to yourself for not changing sooner, and rather, take a look at how the old behavior pattern served and benefitted you. By recognizing how this old behavior pattern was the best option at that time, you will be able to accept yourself and what is, instead of judging yourself harshly. Remind yourself that what you do or don’t do is always in alignment with where you currently are in your life. Take a few deep breaths in and knowing that change is a constant, will help you to navigate your life with more ease and acceptance of what is.