©By Dennis Dossett
In the days leading up to the rapidly approaching New Year, I began to think about how we humans approach this annual event and the significance we tend to attach to it. Many people make New Year’s resolutions, regarding the coming year as a fresh start—a new beginning. But for many people, last year was just too much: change that occurred too rapidly, too much change, or change that was just too huge to live with comfortably. The prospect of a new year is often looked forward to as a period of stabilization, a chance to “cool off”, to “breathe” a welcome reprieve from the year just passed. For many, the New Year is regarded as kind of a “finish line” to an unwelcome and all-too difficult marathon for which they were not prepared. Many other people are dreading the changes they fear will be foisted upon them in the coming year.
Why are so many people averse to “change”, and what is it about change that so many people try to minimize if not entirely eliminate? The most frequent answer to this question is the “comfort zone”. While that term sounds pretty self-explanatory, just what is it? I believe that it is a state of stagnation or paralysis in which people do little or nothing to help themselves out of their life condition because of fear of the unknown (for example, “What will happen if I do it?” “What if it doesn’t work?” “What if I am wrong?”, etc.) or because of conditioning. In terms of conditioning, change is avoided because “That’s the way it’s always been done,” or because “That’s the way that everyone else does it.” Certainty is thus manufactured from habit or social consensus. Any way you slice it, the comfort zone is based on fear (for example, fear of being different, fear of being judged by others, etc.).
Sometimes “laziness” is given as a reason for staying in the comfort zone; it is just easier to do nothing than to do something different. Funny, such people are not so lazy that they won’t go out of their way to “eat, drink, and make merry” when they want to do so, so I really don’t think laziness has much to do with it. In essence, the comfort zone is a situation of comparative psychological safety; it is just psychologically “safer” to ignore the situation or to run away from it than it is to risk failure (social ostracism, ridicule, judgment, etc.) by facing it. No matter what excuse people give, I believe that the real motivation for the comfort zone is fear—not that people are always able to succinctly verbalize it, but fear nonetheless. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the comfort zone is a state of willful stagnation or paralysis because it always involves a choice not to face one’s fears.
I’m not saying that change isn’t sometimes scary, difficult, exhausting, etc. I’m often guilty of such complaints and excuses, myself. But the fact is that change is a normal part of life. Unless and until we can learn to develop a healthy relationship with change, it will always be a burden, weighing us down and preventing us from moving forward with our lives. I personally believe that the sole purpose of life on the earth plane is soul evolution, and the very basis of evolution of any sort is change. Change is often both the opportunity for growth and the result of growth as well. Think of it: without change our bodies would never have been conceived. Our physical cells could not grow and divide and we would remain nothing more than the missed opportunity for an egg and a sperm to unite and create a human body. We couldn’t even develop a brain, let alone learn anything. What is learning, after all, if not change? Isn’t the result of learning the capacity to either do or be something different than what we were before? And what about all those New Year’s resolutions people make? Aren’t they really looking forward to change? Of course, not all change is to our liking. We don’t always have to “like” change, but we certainly can learn to “live more at peace with it.” In short, change is an absolutely necessary and essential part of human existence. But, of course, that doesn’t keep us from complaining about it!
If, indeed, we are on the earth plane for the purpose of soul evolution, then I think that the most important thing we can do when faced with change is learn how to navigate it in our lives, how to deal with it in more constructive rather than less constructive ways. By “constructive” I mean ways that ultimately uplift us by raising our vibration to a higher frequency—in short, soul evolution. That always involves our (free will), the ability and responsibility to choose how we will respond to any and every situation we encounter in life. That choice is what determines whether and to what extent we raise our vibration or whether we stagnate at the same level until we learn the lessons involved through facing our fears and responding to change in “more constructive ways” than we have done so previously.
My teacher, Margaret McElroy frequently exclaimed that, “Spiritual development isn’t for sissies!” In my experience, she was absolutely correct. It often takes considerable courage to continue working toward the goal of soul evolution. And as Maitreya tells us,
• “Spiritual development takes hard work, determination, and discipline. More than anything, it means leaving the comfort zone behind.” ~ Maitreya (March 8, 2012, Margaret McElroy’s Facebook Fan Page)
The key to dealing more effectively with change is not so much what we do but how we do it. Change is going to happen in our lives regardless, and we can’t always control what changes, how much it changes, when it changes, and certainly not the results of change. But we can control how we choose to respond to change. That means making some pretty tough choices from time to time, but isn’t that why we are here? And if soul evolution is all about change, it is in our own best interest to learn to deal with change in the most effective and least disruptive manner possible regardless of the circumstances. In short, what really has to change is us!
• “All appears to change when we change.” ~ Henri-Frederic Amiel (1821-1881; Swiss philosopher, poet & critic)
• “The next time you are given the opportunity to change your life or move in another direction, face the fear and do so. Do not go back into the safety of the comfort zone.” ~ Maitreya (Newsletter #161, September 3, 2005)
Fine, you say, but how do we do that? Nobody in their right mind will tell you that it will be easy. As Maitreya noted above, “Spiritual development takes hard work” etc., and whether you are actually thinking about your soul evolution or not, it is happening right NOW, right HERE, and there is nothing you can do about it except to decide to proceed or turn and run.
• “You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.” ~ Abraham Maslow (1908-1970, American psychologist)
But “safety” is illusive, and you can run but you can’t hide. The Universe has placed you here for a purpose, and you can either “cooperate and graduate” or put it all off for yet another incarnation and have to face the same situations again … only much more difficult. As the old saying goes, “There is no time like the present” and, in fact, that is all we have—the present, right NOW. “But there is a whole year of ‘right NOWs’ coming up”, I can hear you say. Well, yes. You have a whole year of new opportunities to face your fears and “embrace” the changes that are coming, but putting it off until then is just languishing in your comfort zone.
• “When coasting in our comfort zone, we don’t grow. We continue to do more of the same. … Maintaining a comfort zone can, paradoxically, lead to discomfort in the long run. If by being comfortable we avoid important life issues, internal tension accumulates. … Eventually, as both internal and external pressures for change persist, the ‘comfort zone’ ceases to serve us.” ~ Dr. Eric Allenbaugh (Executive coach, leadership consultant, speaker, & author)
As I write this, I am reminded of an old advertising slogan of the American Beef Industry Council: “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner!” In our present context, that slogan becomes: “Change. It’s what you signed up for!” Think about it. You are here for one purpose, soul evolution (and to live in joy while doing so!). There’s only one way I know of to begin to accomplish that, and that is to begin learning to accept change in your life as an opportunity to learn and grow. Your choice is simply to say “Yes!” to life (as it is, without judgment) or to say “No!” and do everything you can to resist the situation in front of you with all the complaining and negativity you can muster. Just remember:
• “Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” ~ Eckhart Tolle (1948-; German-Canadian spiritual teacher, motivational speaker, & author)
The choice is ours, each and every one of us. The new year will, indeed, present us with many changes, some of which some of us will like and others of us will disapprove. As Maitreya says, “Don’t give it any energy.” But that is a topic for another time. Until then, I invite you to learn to make a New Year’s resolution to face the changes in the coming year with grace and aplomb. Everything is exactly as it needs to be for your own soul evolution. Keep that in mind and you will find the new year to be not as bad as you had feared, and just perhaps far better than you had hoped. Just remember that “Your thoughts create your reality.”
Happy New Year, my friend! May you find peace and joy in your new-found freedom from old habits, conditioning, and fear of the future. All is well—if you allow it to be.