157: How We Change
To change is human, but only as long as you realize that you need to do it to yourself as much as you want the next person to do it. How do we change, exactly? It is often easier said than done. A quick look at any aspect of human existence will show you how resistant we are to change when it comes to ourselves. In this rapidly changing world, we need to constantly check on this important responsibility to ourselves and the world around us. Join in as Thane Marcus Ringler brings this powerful message to us in this episode. Plus, tune in for Thane’s six reminders when facing change in our lives and in our world.
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How We Change
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This one, I titled How We Change. In the midst of all that’s happened in 2020 and all the changes we’ve all experienced, I wanted to offer up some reminders for facing change in our lives and our world. This has been going on for a while and this desire ultimately led to a series of blog posts that I did in April and May offering up a handful of reminders that we often need when facing change. They are helpful refreshers. I’m going to say them again here, but if you wanted longer discourses on all of those, go to ThaneMarcus.com and you can find those on the blog. Here are the six reminders when facing change.
Reminder number one, regardless of how much change we are going through, we can always remain grounded through practicing our daily rhythms or our cornerstone habits that keep our lives in place. Reminder number two, sometimes the most helpful thing you can do is to show and extend more grace to yourself and others, especially in tumultuous times of change. Reminder number three, change causes us to operate out of fear and assumption but if we want to thrive in the midst of uncertain times, we must strive to operate out of love and belief. Reminder number four, change itself is a neutral reality. What we do with it is a result that can be either good or bad. Reminder number five, the experience of change is drastically different winning community versus isolation. Reminder number six, beauty can be found in all things if only we would look for it.Facing external change is often an easier pill to swallow than internal change. Click To Tweet
These are the six reminders that I’ve found helpful for myself and can be helpful for others when we think about facing change. All of these reminders are geared towards the external reality of change, the way we experienced a change in our environment, and in the world around us. The other important facet of change is an internal reality. How we, ourselves change and grow throughout our lives. As with most things in life, changing the environment or the external is usually far easier than the internal. Even facing external change is often an easier pill to swallow than internal change. We are all scared of change to some extent. We are scared of becoming someone different than we once were.
On the other hand, we all want to be somewhere else and where we are. We’re in the midst of this tension of being scared to be someone different than we once were, but also longing to be somewhere else than where we are. In order to arrive at a different destination, we have to do the work within ourselves to reach that desired goal. One of the aspects of change that’s interesting to note is that we’re able to see the need for change in others far easier than the need for change in ourselves. If we’re honest with ourselves almost on a daily basis, we’re telling ourselves or others how much we wish someone else would change and often so that they would be more like ourselves in some way.
As narcissistic as that is, we can all relate to that. We have a lot of conversations on how we wish other people would change to be more like us. This is comical because we are often blind or ignorant to the ways in which we need to grow and change ourselves while we become experts in diagnosing and addressing the way someone else needs to change. It’s a human malady, a human condition. We missed out on the change that we need when we constantly address the change we think others need. The other aspect of change that is important to understand is that we never change someone by telling them to change.
If we think back on childhood, what was our typical response or any child’s typical response when any adult, especially a parent says, “You need to do this.” It is always often a compelling and resounding, “No, I’m not going to.” There’s a rebellious nature, or even what could be called an independent nature within our bones that responds with repulsion anytime someone tells us what we “need to do.” This is true and we see this everywhere, even within ourselves, as adults. It points to that we don’t change others by telling them they need to change.
In our world and especially within America, there are a plethora of areas where we want to see change. Race in the way that we see human beings differently. We want to see a change in politics, promoting unity and said division based on generalizations, whether you’re left or right, liberal or conservative, all these general terms. We want to see a change in media or news outlets, where we see perfect pictures or clickbaity headlines. We want to see the change in businesses and corporations that care solely about the bottom line and not about the humans on the receiving end and on and on it goes. There are many areas within our world, especially in the midst of America, where we want to see change.
Typically, we want to see it in other people first and this is where a few quotes come into play. The first one is from Dallas Willard, he says, “It is human nature to resist deep inward change for such change threatens our sense of personal identity.” This goes back to one of the fears we face with the change that we are fearful of changing from who we once were. It threatens our sense of personal identity, as Willard says. Another quote by Kerry Patterson says, “As much as others may need to change, or we may want them to change, the only person we can continually inspire, prod, and shape with any degree of success is the person in the mirror.”As a person changes their own nature, the world’s attitude towards them also changes. Click To Tweet
What Kerry’s pointing out is that we always want other people to change, but the only person that we can continually have success in changing is ourselves, the person in the mirror. Finally, the quote that’s often attributed to Gandhi is, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” What I’ve found out is that Gandhi, didn’t probably say that, and what he said is more likely this quote that, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.” This is a little bit longer way of saying the same thing, that if we want others to change, if we want the world to change, we must change ourselves.
We must look inward and focus on internal change if there’s ever going to be external change. Thus, how we change is as follows, at least in my perspective. First, recognize the need for change in ourselves. Robert Pirsig said, “The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.” We need to first recognize the need for change in ourselves. Second, we must have a greater desire for change than the inherent obstacles that oppose that change. Brad Sugars said, “The formula for change is when the desire for change is greater than the resistance to change.”
Third, we must go through the process of change internally. As James Holly said, “Only death is static. The principle of life is change.” We have many deaths and rebirths to transit if we’re to lead meaningful lives. Forth, rinse, and repeat. Winston Churchill said, “To improve is to change.” To be perfect is to have changed often. The four steps of how we change are one, recognize the need for change in ourselves. Two, have a greater desire for that change than the inherent obstacles that oppose it. Third, go through the growth process of change internally, and then fourth rinse and repeat.
You may be thinking, “What about changing others? How do I do that? Isn’t that what we’re after?” I’m often thinking the same thing. Hopefully, though we can readily assent that we don’t have the power to forcibly change others. Along with that, we can realize that telling others to change isn’t helpful. It leads to others doubling down and entrenching even further in what they believe. We all do this. If someone comes up to you and says, “You’re wrong. You need to change.” What are we going to do? We’re going to get defensive and we’re going to entrench in our position, stance or idea. That’s what we all do as humans.
What do we do in trying to promote change? We must first focus on changing and growing within ourselves before we ever are ready to look outward at others. Once we have been in the growth process for some time internally, it may be helpful to reconsider ways that we can influence and encourage others to grow. Usually, it comes from the things that we found helpful or useful for ourselves. When this time comes, there’s an important focus we must maintain, and that the focus of empowerment, instead of instruction. Fred Rogers said it best, in my opinion.
He said, “There’s a world of difference between insisting on someone’s doing something and establishing an atmosphere in which that person can grow into wanting to do it.” Fred said it beautifully. When we focus on empowerment, we focus on creating an atmosphere, space for others to change instead of giving them instructions on the change that we think they need to make. Holding space for others to be fully themselves is essential for creating an atmosphere that encourages growth and change because few of us live fully into our identities on a daily level, if any of us. If you want more on that, see Jamie Winship‘s interview as he shares a lot on that idea of living in our true identity.
The best way we can change is by first focusing on ourselves and then second, by holding space for others. This is how we change, foster growth and we walk forward together as a family, community, society, and humanity. To accomplish this, we need an abundance of patients for ourselves as much as for others. It’s a long journey, but it’s a road worth traveling. I want to end by another quote by Merle Shain and she said, “Loving someone means helping them to be more themselves, which can be different from being what you’d like them to be, although often they turn out the same.” May we all embrace this process of change together. Thank you.
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- Dallas Willard
- Kerry Patterson
- Brad Sugars
- Jamie Winship – Previous episode
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