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Inertia - Nº120
The connection between action and change
People change in four seasons: when they hurt enough that they have to, when they see enough that they are inspired to, when they learn enough that they want to, and when they receive enough that they are able to.
— John C. Maxwell
Life lately has been a lot about the connection between what I want to do and what I’m willing to do to get there. One highlights my ability to change, and the other my ability to act. Many people wait until they reach a tipping point to change: during a crisis or when they feel “lost”. Like how people convert to religion during times of pain or try to reinvent themselves in order to hold onto a bad relationship.
Most of us probably hate change—or at least, we did at one point—even though we naturally excel at it. But life is full of it: we change to curate our lives and feel more like ourselves as the years pass. We change to avoid pain or danger. Even if we feel like we are set in stone—as if our lives are pre-written, and we can only stroll on the plateaux of our memories to spectate a seemingly unchangeable past—our story can always be rewritten.
For a while, I’ve repeatedly questioned whether people can change. Despite a person’s stubbornness or denial, could they appreciate that there’s always room to improve, no matter their age or perspicuity. The problem is that we may not always know whether we need to change, as all change is about action, but not all action is about change. And we don’t always know the when or how.
People tend to adore the idea of taking action and reinventing themselves (many of us lead with it at the start of every year), but not the idea of making sacrifices. It’s similar to a writer’s toil to cut their words write during the editing process. There’s ego and attachment to shed, and admitting we need to let go sometimes is the hardest thing to do.
In recent times, I’ve happily watched my parents change for the better as they get older. Despite their hardship, weathering health or life problems, and nurturing families and relationships, they’ve become more independent and at peace. A change in outlook and mindset came first over the years, and healthier habits and actions willingly followed suit. They became more receptive and understanding, and talking about today’s world feels easier.
We grow up believing people become slowly set in their ways as they get older, and it’s generally true. But nobody sets and governs this behaviour except themselves, and it’s not our job to command them.
I’m learning to commit myself to this. Growing up as a peacemaker, it’s hard for me to avoid trying to change people. In school, I would always offer myself as someone to unload problems onto. I’m always willing to re-work a part of me that could be better, but the same doesn’t go for everyone else. Sometimes it’s hard because you may live with someone who makes it difficult, or they’re part of a group of friends where you can’t simply cut them off. And this is why action leads to change, not just for yourself but for those who spend time around you.
Recognising internal conflict and not acting how I want to has become the perfect precursor to spark my desire to continuously take action and change where possible. Getting a good sense of ease and alignment sometimes means accepting that your own reactions can betray you and cloud you from being the person you want to be. And to resolve it, you have to pull out the root. The clarity has helped me. And you can achieve it in several ways. Dedicating time to finding what you want to do and who you love being around can work wonders. And it can surprise you to learn what naturally fuels you to change, act, and continuously improve.