The subject of quitting seemed to strike a chord for a lot of you, judging by the number of responses I received. Job dissatisfaction, relationship distress, the busy pace of modern life—so much isn’t working these days. Sometimes we’re not ready to throw in the towel completely though, and yet we can hardly bear staying stuck any longer. In these situations, it’s important to remember the other possibilities for change.
Here in Austin, we’ve been having intermittent storms come through. One day it’s sunny, and the birds are chirping; the next day, torrential rains are flooding the streets. On a neighborhood walk between storms last week, I marveled at the large branches scattered about the road. To look up at the healthy green canopy on a sunny day, it’s hard to imagine the trees carrying that extra weight for as long as they did. But they stood there tall and intact until nature’s momentum was strong enough to release their weaker limbs.
Counseling people over the years, I’ve heard a lot of stories, and I’ve seen how most of us struggle making decisions using the mind and the sheer force of willpower. Usually the options seem pretty dualistic, such as: should I stay, or should I go? Like the branches broken off in the storm, sometimes we can let go of the parts that are weakening, instead of uprooting everything. Examples are all around if you look for them. The parents who live separately but continue family traditions with their children together. The new mom who shifts from working full-time to being part-time and remote. The couple who lets go of monogamy and invites in other partners, while still loving, communicating, and respecting one another. Traditional structures are falling apart; they’re just not working for everyone anymore. What will survive the massive changes is what still has strength, vitality, and the ability to grow. When we embrace right timing to let go of the parts that no longer bear fruit, we may actually grow stronger once the storm passes.
In this athletic, competitive culture, we’re taught well how to push through resistance, lean in to challenges, and manifest success. We don’t learn much about patience, adapting, and letting go. Most of us need some re-education, or better yet, de-education, in how to let nature take its course and remove what it will. When you know what’s not working, one way to respond is to grab a chainsaw and cut off that part of your life. Another way is to hold that grief with honesty and tenderness until, eventually, smaller breaks begin to occur. When the various unseen forces come together, the momentum will remove parts that aren’t serving their former purpose. Does any of this happen painlessly? No way! We need more love, not less, throughout the whole process, for the gentle light of compassion is the salve.
Regardless of how it occurs, change happens by us, to us, and for us. It is the earth life we came here for. May you find courage through it all, and trust no matter what.
PS— Insight is easy, but how to actually live this stuff in the everyday is where the real work is. If you or someone you know is struggling with change, whether you need one-time or ongoing support, please reach out and ask. Remote sessions are now available, in addition to in-person at The She Shed.