My life has changed from what I thought it would be and it has changed from what I thought I wanted. It has changed in so many massive and minute ways, but the biggest change was that I made change and growth a positive part of my life.
On reflection, I have always thought like this but major turning points in my life have really cemented the concept. For example, the diagnosis of MS continues to mean I need to reevaluate my approach to health and busyness. A relationship ending means I need to reevaluate what I want and what I can do differently next time. A loss of a wonderful partner means I need to reevaluate who I am on my own. Being a single mother of teenagers means I need to reevaluate my parenting style and embrace open communication with my children.
These turning points have given me opportunities to become really clear on what I want and who I am. Lately my legs have been sore, as a result of this heat, and so I have had to listen to my body and acknowledge I needed to rest (or find air conditioning stat). I needed to surrender to the fact that I can’t do everything and just accept the changes that MS bring me each day. Don’t get be wrong, I am no hero, sometimes I really feel like giving up but I don’t because my mindsets actively looks at ways to grow from challenges. When I’m frustrated, I persevere. This could mean simply finding a stool at a function and accepting that standing all night just isn’t going to work for my legs right now. Growth for me is made up of the hundreds of small but important choices I make every single day. When you are empowered, you are fully aware of the challenges you face — you see them with eyes wide open — but you know in your heart that you have the determination and courage it takes to navigate through them successfully. Self empowerment is not about being perfect or having all the answers, it can also be about finding balance in your life.
Have you seen the below image before or looked at what a Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset is? The concept of these mindsets has been well researched by renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck. You can apply these to a larger scale like in education but I found it helpful to apply it to myself personally.
I was excited to learn about these mindsets because I felt that they finally explained why I value growth so much. Take the time to read over each one and work out which one you can relate to the most. There can be a misconception that you are one or the other but in reality everyone has a mixture. It is good to identify which is your most dominant mindset and watch for what your fixed-mindset triggers are – we all have them.
I do not want to dwell on the past but I was astounded when I recently saw the above image. My very first thought was “oh my goodness that is why my relationship last year ended“. To be honest I could never really put my finger on it, he was a nice guy but something just wasn’t right for me. His inflexibility was a major contributor. I made the mistake of saying on our first date that “I don’t want to change you”, which I meant but I didn’t think that this would close the door to any possibility of any growth, flexibility or self reflection. Really for me actions speak louder than words so you can’t just ‘talk the talk’ you have to ‘walk the walk’. It was an amazing wake-up call and a massive gift to learn that I am looking for someone who is open to change, who is adaptive, open to being challenged, will challenge me and who can enjoy a fun, joyful turbulent-free life. It now seems abundantly clear to me how crazy it was trying to relate to someone so fixed in their ways when growth and change are basically my anthems.
Next time a poignant question I will ask in any relationship is “how much work are you willing to do on yourself when s#%t hits the fan?” “Will you run away or will you really discuss the issues?” I am looking for a shared willingness to becoming conscious. I do not want to change someone to suit my needs but I do want to be with people who are interested in growing with me and also growing for themselves. Why not also ask “What are your expectations of me?” These questions are applicable to both romantic relationships and friendships. Of course this requires more work, and no small amount of courage, but the rewards are also far greater. I am very aware that being so vulnerable and transparent will not be everyone’s cup of tea but that is ok.
I believe the world we live in insists there be change but it doesn’t have to be hard if you recognise where you are resisting change and get creative in how you can adapt to it. Resistance to change can mean suffering whereas embracing change means happiness – it is all proportional
Life is a constant lesson and happy people tend to be well aware of that. Not only are they always open to change, but they truly listen to suggestions, respect and consider all opinions, and take criticism constructively. Some of the happiest moments in my life occur when I let go of what I can’t change.
Being flexible and resilient helps me to bounce back and cope with changes in my life. It has been said that flexibility stems from a well-developed sense of knowing who you are. Change is not about being submissive, for me it is a powerful part of my life. Change means growth, learning lessons and becoming stronger. I never ever want to stop learning from life. Right now, I am just proud that I have survived every bit of pain and loss that has shaped me up until this point. I choose growth in my life. I choose becoming stronger, being flexible, developing a strong sense of my self. I choose me.