1. Dissatisfaction in and of itself is not a genuine call for change
According to Eckhart Tolle, change based solely on resistance to what is happening in the present moment won’t work. If we are trying to escape the moment by jumping into something different, odds are we will find ourselves in a different setting, having an eerily similar experience to one we’ve had before.
Resistance to the present moment tends to arise from deep-seated negative emotions that we have not yet uncovered and released. If we can learn to stay with the present moment, including any negative emotions such as anger, fear, boredom, frustration, and disappointment, we will begin to see the root of some of these patterns and this will enable us to release their grip on us.
For example, not too long ago I felt completely helpless and stuck at work. Through staying with this feeling without trying to change it, I realized that what was truly agonizing me was the feeling that I was stuck. I felt powerless to change the situation. This was a pattern in me, that was not objectively true, that was causing me suffering.
2. You are free to change at any time
So often in life we feel that we are a victim of our circumstances. And this causes suffering. While there are certain situations such as extreme poverty, illness or imprisonment that make it quite difficult to change, ultimately we can always make small, tiny, sometimes even imperceptible changes that can profoundly shift our experience of reality.
If you stay with your thoughts of being stuck for some time, you will likely come across some of these excuses as to why you can’t change:
- I don’t have enough money
- I won’t have enough security
- My family won’t approve
- I’m not talented enough
- I won’t be successful
These may all be true to some extent, but the concern with not being good enough or the fear of the unknown only arise when we are in the midst of contemplating some final state that is so different from where we are. If instead, we focus only on a small shift in mindset or action and let go of the focus on the end product, we can maintain a sense of safety as we change.
When I contemplated starting a mindfulness coaching practice, I concerned myself with all kinds of issues including whether I would have to do this full time, the kind of training I would need, what my husband would think, and whether I would be good at it. Eventually, I just sent out an e-mail to a group of people saying I was offering it. I let go of all the ifs and shoulds. Slowly slowly, my practice is growing, and organically I am finding the next step without having to have a complete picture of the end result.