Although it’s human nature to resist change, sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we keep going back to the same place over and over… hoping for change, wishing for change, but continuing to receive similar outcomes.
This can frequently happen when we are confronted with transition. Either uninvited or invited changes cause us to dip into our tool bag of strategies that worked in the past. What if your old strategies stop working? What then?
During a career transition phase often times the old rules no longer apply.
Recently, I met with a frustrated client who lamented the futility of getting hired in her new area of career focus. She’d been to all the training classes, taken specialized tests to determine her preferred career path, networked like crazy but was having difficultly with the actual interview process itself.
Amy easily got a first interview with several companies. She had marketable skills, a top notch educational background and years of success, but time and time again she never received a call back for a second interview. She quickly became angry, hurt, bitter and resentful; the energy seeping into her normally optimistic and positive self.
She found herself starting each interview with a sense of negativity and foreboding as she attempted to steel her feelings against further rejection. This negative behavior was undermining her opportunities for success.
In response to Amy’s frustration I shared a story about resistance and our need to change.
This story is called “The Woman and the Hole”.
Each day a woman walked down the same street and fell into the same hole. Each time she was astonished, and upset. One day, she ran into a Wise Sage who was standing by the hole as she was preparing to fall in…(this was a habit) The Sage’s presence caught her eye and she paused for a just a moment as she heard the question…”Have you had enough?” the Sage whispered
“What did you say?” The woman asked with irritation… “Have you had enough of falling into the hole?” the Wise Sage repeated her question. “What do you mean?” the woman asked getting more defensive and agitated. “I said have you had enough of doing the same thing over and over again?” The Sage queried…This angered the woman who proceeded to jump full bodied into the hole.
The next day the woman showed up and the Wise Sage repeated her question “Have you had enough?”. “It’s the damn holes fault; it’s the city’s fault. If it wasn’t in the middle of the road I wouldn’t have to fall into it everyday”…the Woman cried…The Wise Sage added, “You have a choice”….
”“What do you mean I have a choice?” the Woman demanded. The Wise Sage asked, “What would happen if you changed one small thing about your relationship with the hole? And what if by changing your relationship with the hole you stopped falling in.” Arrogantly and with complacence the woman countered “I’m not certain what you say is true or that if I did change it would make any difference.”
The patient Wise Sage whispered, “follow me”, and proceeded to guide the woman toward another street. She instructed the woman to observe what was going on. Initially perplexed, the Woman looked up and down the street, as it appeared to be a virtual mirror replica of her street; the same type of buildings, sidewalks, activities and big hole in the middle of the street. The only difference is that the people on this particular street were doing all sorts of different things… some were walking down the street and falling immediately into the hole, some were walking up to the hole looking at it and then falling in, others were walking around the hole and refusing to fall in at all…
The Wise Sage softly asked the woman “What do you see?” The woman besieged with emotions burst into tears and fell into a heap. “Why are you crying?” asked the Wise Sage. “Because I never knew I had a choice. I felt so stuck and unhappy doing the same things over and over again, but I didn’t know a different way.” the woman wailed, surrounded with grief. The kindly Sage looked upon the woman with compassion and asked her to look once again at the street and open her heart even more…. The woman now intuitively trusted the Wise Sage and complied with her request. Looking at the intersection of the street, the Woman could see many people refusing to walk down the street… “Why are they doing that?” the woman asked still a bit confused. The Wise Sage responded, “They are learning that they have a choice on how to do things differently in their lives and that life becomes easier when you steer away from habits and decisions that make life hard. They now look for streets that are free from potholes.”
The woman’s mind was a bit blown by now, but something inside her had changed at a deep and almost imperceptible level …”Why didn’t I think of that? I just kept doing that same things over and over again and I didn’t even know I had a choice or that a street without a hole even existed” The woman questioned the Wise Sage. “You are human, and to be human means that pain or frustration must be experienced at a level that catches our attention. You were ready to see life differently.” The Wise Sage continued…. “People need to be shown a different way exists before they can make a change, and we never open our hearts fully to change until we are absolutely ready.”
“Now that I am aware, how do I know that I can actually do it, make the change, avoid the potholes and even find a new and better street on which to travel? How do I know that I’m different from all those people choosing to walk down a different street or even fall into the hole?”… The Woman was quiet, contemplative… “You won’t know until you actually go out and try it. Change takes practice and help from others who show up to steer you away from the potholes in life.” The Wise Sage added….
The woman now full of gratitude and reflecting upon the day’s events opened herself to a new beginning….
Epilogue: The woman is still occasionally choosing to walk down the same old street and fall into the hole, but more often than not, she is choosing an entirely new well-kept street that makes her life easier, richer and more manageable…. The Wise Sage is still hanging around the hole helping others discover their options…
Moral of the story
If what you are doing isn’t working; Try something new!
Experiences can become habits, not onerous reflections of some deep dark personal flaw that takes years to unravel. What if we believed we could effect real change in our lives by taking small micro movements, shifting a few outworn behaviors; would you feel relief, peace, fear, anguish…?
Change is never easy, but there are several choices for gaining a new point of view and perspective and see where our true strength and values lie.
Thanks jasonbolonski for the photo via Flickr
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