When you ponder the place you are and the place you were and the process that got you from there to here can you see the steps that made that happen? Can you know them if they come again? Is there something underlying them that is recognizable as a pattern that can be used for our good? Somehow implemented, instead of reacted to? Perhaps even used on others to move them away from complacency?
These were the questions I was asking when I was listening to a guy talk about the process of change. He was describing it in large terms of society and done over years of quiet action and passive leadership. I was listening and thought that they are common things for anyone that is going through change. Either self directed or lead by another motivation, the steps are the same.
First is the issue of “stasis”. This is also termed status-quo and has as its main tenet of value “Self-restraint”. Its chief enemy is entropy, and it has inertia on its side as a resistance to change. Things are ok here or you would be changing them. Entropy is generally slow enough to not be recognized, or it will be accepted as “normal” and complacency is its companion. Self-restraint is applied as a conscious thought against the 7-deadly sins, and as such you are stabile and moderate in your actions. It is this that keeps your car, your TV, house, or job in the same place for many years. It is why your marriage or lack of is as it is. Status Quo.
The second station is “Demoralization”. It is what happens when self-restraint is overrun and the idea of “something else” gets implanted in your mind. It is why, when you are looking for a new blue car, that you suddenly see blue cars everywhere, especially if you are restrained by something from getting one. The next version of this is to get one and then find out yours was the last version and the new one looks totally cool and you are stuck with this version for years to come… Demoralized. For a woman it can be to know that the lady sitting next to you at lunch with the baby has fit back into her bikini and this is her fourth child! Or any other temptation that is common to us all. It is interesting what will bounce off and what will get through the defenses… Why is that? We would have never been bothered by something said by any other person, but from that “witch” or “brother-in-law” and wow does it get in deep… demoralized… I deserved that promotion…
The third is Destabilize. This is when there are active thoughts performed at resolving the demoralization, at least in our minds. You will assassinate the character of the person, stop by the car dealer, look over craigslist etc. Anything but go back to self restraint. The movement has begun, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion until another action effects it. So we look for the bigger boat, or harbor ill thoughts and don’t tell anyone. We think and ponder and stew. It is what we do…
The next stage is Crisis. It is the thoughts put to actions. The internal version of crisis is a “civil war”. The in-house squabble with our partner about some “small vanity”. We get tattoo eye liner or silicone or lippo or some other soothing makeover. We splurge on the boat or the bike or the house, the new business venture, or trip. The external version is an “invasion”. This is when there is a flame that excites and a divorce starts the path in a new direction. It is why we quit jobs, marriages, organizations, friendships… Why? Do we need a reason other than we “deserve” to be happy, don’t we? Civil war, or invasion. Either way we are ready for the war to begin.
What is next? “Normalization”. It is the “New Normal” actually. It is not usually anything close to what was the normal we knew, but it is now… for a while at least. This is what we will call the changed but stable version of what took place after the crisis period. The divorce may have been unsettling for 3 years, or the new car or boat and the angry spouse will last for a while but this is now the new normal, stony silence or caustic jabs… either way, it is now what is going to be our “normal”. The new spouse’s kids in the basement, or the small apartment all alone, but that is the new version of my days.
Can it be good, or happy or a great move? Sure. Certainly, but not when the program follows this path. You want a new job, car or eyeliner? Fine. Great! But do it from a position of purpose and with self restraint. To follow this path of demoralization driven behavior is to run far from contentment. Can you choose to start today with a re-evaluation of the current situation and commit again to self restraint? Absolutely, but that is to also deal with the effects and results of the last crisis that you went through. The divorce, the car payments, the stony results of betrayals and lies… those will need to be tended to and some will last many more years to come. There are many angry children in their 50’s and 60’s dealing with the treachery of friends or the behaviors and choices of their parents. Choose today to be something new and perhaps there is time to reconcile a friendship or bank account. But do so because it is right, not out of guilt. Not out of remorse only, as much as contrition has a part in it, but because it is right.
The old adage say’s that “you have to be before you can do”. If you have done, it is because you became. You will need to own this, and then begin this process in the correct order this time. It will be for better reasons and produce better results. You will need to confront apathy and lethargy to get moving. You will be demoralized by your flakey and transparent behaviors, own them. Confront them in yourself, and then forgive yourself. You cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube or the feathers back on the chicken, so deal with that reality, but move away from the guilt of that. Own the issue with honesty, not the emotion. Accept the fact that owning the “stuff” will be destabilizing to you, your new friends, perhaps your banker or new spouse, and your kids. This destabilizing will be worthwhile, but hard. It may lead back to crisis. That may be, but you will be different this time and the results will be different. Perhaps your “new normal” will transform and become your next “new normal” after the crisis that you have just created by choosing to be less flakey. So be it, it is a change for the better this time… Now you can begin the next “new normal” with a renewed Self Restraint. That is a normal that you can count on. It is one that is worthwhile. Your contentment will be deep, even in the midst of the storm.
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