The title of a long-running, off-Broadway play – “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” – always makes me smile. It pokes fun of the common human pattern of falling in love with someone and then wanting to fine-tune that person and create the ideal partner. Recently, I have been thinking about a different pattern in relationships, one more along the lines of “I love you, don’t change.”
Some of the people who love us most want us to stay as we are. They hope we will remain the steady-state individual whose decisions, actions, and reactions are fairly predictable. They count on our predictability and, of course, the reverse is also true. We appreciate their constancy, too. And while those who love us want us to be truly happy, for some there would be an important qualifier – “Be happy, but don’t change.” This wish reflects the fear that a change in us will result in a negative effect on their equilibrium and ultimately on their happiness. The conflict is clear. When we connect with our deepest thoughts, feelings, fears and desires, we can be certain of only one thing – we will change. We will experience emotional or spiritual “growth spurts” that propel us along our life’s path, and each time our perspective shifts. For some of us, the change is subtle but for others there is a more noticeable shift in how we spend our time and energy, in the things we enjoy, and in the people with whom we surround ourselves. These changes can make others uncomfortable while, at the same time, we feel happier and more at ease.
Are the people who love you encouraging you to run in place? Have you checked in with yourself recently and asked if you are living your life the way you want to live it? You can do this in just a few minutes. Honestly. In 10 -15 minutes, you can have some important insights into your happiness and self-appreciation. Here’s a suggested approach:
– Find a place where you can have a few minutes of uninterrupted concentration.
– Close your eyes for a moment, and take three very deep breaths. Open your eyes.
– Write or type the answers to the four questions below. Please note that writing or typing the answers, rather than answering them in your mind, can and will make a big difference. Try not to filter your responses — capture the first thoughts that come into your head without judging or evaluating them.
……. Question 1: What do I love most about my life?
……. Question 2: What would I like to change about my life?
……. Question 3: What person or people can help me make these changes?
……. Question 4: Who, if anyone, will resist these changes?
– When you have finished, applaud your commitment to yourself and your willingness to take time just for you.
– In a day or two, reread your responses. There will probably be new insights that can help you reshape some of your choices about how you invest your precious energy and time.
Breaking old patterns is liberating and when we realize that we are responsible for our happiness, we can stop running in place and head wherever we really want to be.