Change is inevitable. It's how we embrace it that defines us.
On my list of Favorites in Life is the changing color of leaves. As I was admiring the stunning colors, I acknowledged that autumn shows how change can be so beautiful. This reminder is especially helpful when making changes is not received well by others.
My brain goes into a contemplative state with the shift of seasons. Autumn is a time of transformation, of paring back and letting go of what is no longer of value.
This time of year means the holidays are approaching. There are so many traditions that people feel so strongly about that it takes them almost to a place of judgment if you’re not adhering to their ideas of what is the right way to do something.
The Season Begins
We start in autumn with all decor that often includes pumpkins and leaves of changing colors. For some, the idea of the seasons changing is incredibly comforting with visions of warm fires and hot drinks cozied up on the couch. For others it brings out memories of cold and loneliness with no comfort in sight.
Add in all the commercialization of what the holidays “should ideally hold” for each person and a standard of what we should be thinking and feeling is established. The expectations, making sure everything is the way it ‘should’ be, upholding the standards of others, can be exhausting and discouraging.
After Halloween the big debate starts to occur. Opinions are seemingly everywhere as to whether we are allowed to decorate for any other holiday before giving Thanksgiving its proper due attention. If we decide to buck the traditional calendar, we are met with the judgment of not placing a heart of Thanksgiving on the forefront of our moral compass.
Facing the Discomfort
In the face of this discomfort, comes the desire to defend ourselves and explain why we are breaking tradition or choosing to do what feels more aligned for ourselves (and family). Why do we seek validation from external places when those people don’t necessarily align with our thoughts and feelings?
It’s one thing to have a legitimate discussion regarding philosophies and allowing ourselves to be challenged and being open to change. It’s another thing to allow ourselves to sit with the judgment of others and then allow our self-worth to be determined by their judgments.
When it comes to doing things the way we have always done them, how often do we pause and analyze if what we are doing fits into our own ideas of how life should go or what feels right to us? This can be in relationships across the board, may they be intimate, work related, friendships, or simply with our own inner self.
What is the driving force to stay status quo?
Maintaining the current state of affairs is keeping the peace. Yet, under the ideals is where turmoil can be brewing when those traditions no longer connect with us in the same way as our ancestors.
The definition of tradition is the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation.
Looking at the idea of where something was started and why it continues begs the question of, “Were the people who shared these traditions with us healthy and balanced?” Did they or do they exhibit the types of character traits we want reflected in ourselves?
When facing the demands of those around us to perform in a certain way based on “how things have always been done”, what would it take for us to be able to stand up for what is no longer right for us?
There is and will always be the deeper parts of ourselves that have patterns and needs that are trying to be met. The desire to be seen, feel heard, validated and worthy is often so innately embedded that we don’t even realize it is a driving force in our inability to say this no longer works for us.
What would it take to say to those around us, “It is wonderful that we all have different traditions and ways of seeing things. I am thankful to have people in my life who challenge me and are willing to explore different ways of doing things.”
It would take courage.
Courage isn’t something that just happens. Courage is like a muscle, you have to use it to develop it.
Courage is scary. Fear can be paralyzing. It can hold us back and keep us from opportunities for positive change. Our ability to move through emotional barriers of how doing something different may not be received well and to muster the courage to move beyond those fears is empowering.
I challenge you to make the change you are desiring in your life.
Before you embark on this courageous task, ask yourself:
What are my guiding values and principles? What do I stand for?
Making decisions in line with our values and priorities will help us feel more certain and grounded especially when others criticize. As there will be, the naysayers abound who like to offer their judgments and opinions.
Accept the criticisms knowing you are doing what is ‘right’ for you, which doesn’t always feel good in the moment, but if you’re connected with your principles then you’ll know the right course of action.