Are You Pushed by Pain or Pulled by Possibility?

In Blog by Patricia AlbereLeave a Comment

Change. Transformation. Improvement. Development…..

As we begin the New Year, these words seem to surround us. It’s a time of New Year’s resolutions, and as the long winter nights start their slow shift towards longer days, we look to the future with a sense of optimism, hope for newness, and the creation of a better world.  

How do we get there? Will our New Year’s resolutions move our world to a better place? That depends. I recently read a study which showed that 80% of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by the end of January. This news might make us feel demoralized, to throw out the impulse to change, but I would argue that our natural desire for change is a great thing, and the reason we fail to follow through on our resolutions has more to do with the place in us that desire to change is coming from.

For many of us, the desire for change is very personal. There is something that we want or something we feel we need to change or improve. But there’s a deeper impulse for change that is far more compelling. It’s a desire to become more for the sake of something much bigger than yourself. It’s rooted in an understanding that we are each an intrinsic part of the whole universe, and by extension, when we transform ourselves, we actually positively influence those around us. Our society, our world, transform because we transform. This is a far more exciting approach to our personal and collective change. It is based on waking up to our fundamental connection to the universe and seeing ourselves not as separate individuals but as deeply connected to everyone and everything else in the cosmos.

To get in touch with these two different approaches for change, think of people you know (or are aware of) that fall into the following two categories:

  • Those that are very successful, but only “in it to win it.” These might be people with a lot of wealth or power or success, but who are not necessarily inspired by a greater vision.
  • Those that are on a mission to improve the world in some capacity, whether in politics, religion, environmental activism, human rights, etc. They are successful, but their success is a byproduct of their dedication to a greater mission.

As you think of these different individuals, you can get in touch with the different parts of yourself that are reflected in these different approaches to change.

Making the Shift

So how do we make this shift? How do we get access to the part of ourselves in which we’re connected to this call from the Universe to become more?

This greater call to evolve arises out of what I think of as our “origination point” at the center of our being. Thomas Merton beautifully describes this origination point:                                         

At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely …

When you get in touch with these timeless depths in yourself you are able to drowned out the chatter of your ego–your needs and desires and wants and anxieties–and start to hear the subtle beckoning forth from the future.                                                    

The Universe Needs You

These are urgent and important times. As human beings, we have the power to destroy our future or to save it.  And we need more of us to wake up to this deeper call for change and evolution. There have always been human beings that have given themselves over to the leading edge of evolution, of what is possible. The visionaries and pioneers that have always moved the world forward have, to some degree, been awake to this larger context for their own change. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, are all top of mind examples of people in our time who have answered this call from the center of their being to shape the future of our world.

So, thinking about this with a bigger picture in mind, it’s still important to get into shape or be kinder to your co-workers or find the right mate, but it needs to be for a higher purpose! Maslow’s Hierarchy still applies and we need to have our basic needs met. But for many of us, our world will benefit tremendously by taking that heroic leap beyond merely trying to improve ourselves and our own lives, and focusing on those higher possibilities. When you wake up to this higher motive for change, there is an energy that starts to pull you. You no longer have to “will” yourself to get out of bed and work on improving yourself. You are getting in touch with an infinite pool of energy that is pulling you towards more, higher, better.    

We have the freedom to choose, and at this time of year, the time of resolutions, we can choose to be motivated by pain or we can choose to be available to the call of the future and discover where evolution is moving us.

Waking Up to the Future Inside You: An Exercise

If any of what I’ve shared with you here is inspiring, here’s a little exercise you can do to find the deeper call to evolve within yourself. It will give you the sensitivity to be aware of where that emergent edge is and lean into it rather than subtly being pushed away.

You can do it on your own with a journal or with another person. Without any restrictions or fear of being politically correct, answer the questions:

  • What are you pushing away from in your life?
  • What are you feeling finished with?  
  • Fed up with? Uninspired by? Tired of?

Let yourself include things that seem like they are just part of life, a de facto part of the reality we exist in that we’ve all learned to unconsciously accept as the “norm.”  For example, are you tired of compromising your own integrity to make other people happy, or to avoid conflict? Are you uninspired by constantly working on yourself? Do you feel frustrated by your inability to respond to power imbalances, and not knowing how to handle situations where others are selfish and self-serving?

Once you’ve made your list, take a look at what is on the periphery of your experience.

  • What is calling you?
  • Flirting with you?  
  • What is pulling you?  
  • What is attracting your attention?  
  • What are you longing for?  
  • Wanting to move towards?  
  • If nothing were stopping you, where would you want to go?  

Take a look at your list. Sense into yourself and feel what this exercise is opening up in you. It’s very subtle, so be sensitive. Can you hear the call of the future? If so, listen to it, cultivate it, share it with others. Take some action in relationship to it. It doesn’t have to be big, but do something in response to this call and notice what that leads to.

Dare to let it take over your life and see where it takes you. It might be scary at first, but it will lead to unimaginable possibilities.

The Universe needs to you to follow this call. Make it your New Year’s Resolution to do so.

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