Controlling Change?

You can’t really control change and change is the only constant in life.  What you can control is how you react to change and the attitude you choose towards it.  I began to cope with living more effectively when I started incorporating this belief into my life.

Madisyn Taylor of DailyOM is one of my favorite content posters.  As she notes, “When we experience change in our life, we can control our response and reaction to the changes that are happening … When we no longer resist change and instead regard it as an opportunity to grow, we find that we are far from helpless in the face of it.”

My marriage encompassed my longest and most intense adult relationship. (The relationship officially lasted from 1983 to 2003, but we remained friendly after the divorce.)  We started as friends who wanted to break away from home and explore the world.  He joined the Army and I joined him.  We began with compromise, with one another and our circumstances.  We met challenges together.  It was us against the world.  Then it became “the world is against us” and “you should plan for the worst.”

Neither of us was happier living this way.  My then husband had seen and participated in things to deepen his distrust of human nature, especially when associated with religion and ethnicity.  For example, he was sent to Bosnia, Qatar and Korea.  I learned personal assertiveness because people do not automatically act fairly.  Change embodied probable bad luck for him.  For me, change encompassed the possibility for good, bad or mixed outcomes.  Change was chance … and planning … and preparation.

Refusing to embrace the possibilities of change can leave you stuck and stagnant, repeating the same actions over and over again with the same results.  While that is good scientifically, not much personal growth results.  Eventually, every question I asked him became an attack on him personally.  The type of question didn’t matter and could range from “why do you always choose to drive an extra block going home from work” to “do you think Bush is telling the truth about Iraq.”  I was either challenging his actions or his belief in authority and the status quo.

I like questions.  I don’t believe in absolutes.  I prefer a baseline of guarded optimism.  I will argue against my own belief if that expands understanding … and is entertaining.  Given all this, our eventual divorce is hardly surprising.  However, he hated change so much that he forced me to suggest divorce rather than initiating it himself.  Change is the critical ingredient of life … fear is the limitation.