When I fly, I refuse to even look at a flight unless it is direct.
I might save money if I take a flight with a layover or two, but I don’t care. I want a direct flight from point A to point B and I refuse to even consider any other option. I feel like my time is valuable, and if I’m being honest (which I am), even the thought of having a layover irritates and annoys me.
So – this is giving you a bird’s eye view into an aspect of my personality that a lot of you can probably relate to. I want to get where I am going as fast and as directly as possible. (And when I don’t, my ego can get a little testy!)
Needless to say, this didn’t make for an easy transition when I came to realize the true nature of change. What is the true nature of change?
Change is non-linear and indirect. Change is like a 14-hour flight from Atlanta to New York that has multiple stopovers in the Midwest and West Coast.
Grasping this concept and integrating it into my life has been an interesting journey for me, both rewarding and agonizing all at the same time. My ego - the part that demands instant satisfaction - is constantly holding out for change to be immediate (I have come to accept that this probably won’t change – the ego wants what it wants, when it wants it, right now!), but I have come to learn that the process of change is complex and intelligently designed, and I have learned to trust this process as something far wiser than I.
I recently changed my logo and in doing so, I incorporated the image of the labyrinth into the design. I did this to honor my new understanding of change, as the labyrinth is a perfect representation of how I have come to understand change, and how I have come to see the process of healing that I witness in my clients.
According to Wikipedia, labyrinth is generally synonymous with maze, but many contemporary scholars observe a distinction between the two: maze refers to a complex branching puzzle with choices of path and direction; while a labyrinth has only a single, non-branching path, which leads to the center.
The idea is that when you start your journey of change, you enter the labyrinth. The road has many twists and turns, and is anything but linear. You might feel like you are starting back where you came from, and yet, you are still working your way to your goal, which is the center. In our case, the center is your authentic self – your soul. You are journeying back home; back to the core of who you really are.
The twists and turns in the process appear on the surface as “behavior change.” Your relationship with food alters and heals and you achieve many things that in a linear world one might label as “good” - weight loss, better health, more happiness. All of these things happen. But the real process of change – the real prize – is reconnecting with your center.
So the lesson from the labyrinth is that you should not mistake a hairpin turn in your road for failure or distress. If you journey back around and see something similar to what you saw in the past, you can trust that this is part of the necessary twisting and turning.
As long as you are willing to commit to staying in the labyrinth (i.e. staying committed to showing up for yourself with awareness and the intention to heal), you will arrive at the center. There is only one path. With a labyrinth, you are either in (commitment) or you can get out (avoidance of change).
Understanding change in this way has helped me to see that what I want isn’t necessarily helpful. I want to “just get there already!” But the truth is, in doing that, you skip the stops along the journey that are necessary for change to be deep and meaningful and lasting. It is in our twists and turns that we learn HOW to sustain change. The indirect path is the very thing that teaches us the essential lessons to make our changes last.
I believe this is true with weight management. When I see people go on extreme diets that allow them to lose weight dramatically and drastically, they are bypassing the lessons necessary to sustain the change. This is why people almost always gain that weight back.
When we can see that change is not a linear path, we can relax a little bit and start to enjoy the journey. We can be compassionate with ourselves when we stumble, and understand that learning and growing is part of the process, not a sign of failure.
I might never choose to take a flight with a layover. This is an example of where my ego is probably always going to win (because it can, and I have a choice, whereas with change – yeah, not so much). But, I understand that this part of me has to take a back seat when it comes to change, otherwise, I am going to fall prey to the common trap I see all too often, which is full of frustration, negative self-talk, and feelings of disappointment. We can’t fight against the true nature of change. It won’t work.
I have come to trust the nature of change, and see it as sometimes far bigger and greater than my ego’s needs or wants. In doing this, I have chosen to go with the flow instead of against it, and it is much easier to get to where you want to go than swimming against the current.
As you navigate your own life, and make the changes that honor your authentic self, remember that curves and “road blocks” are only lessons and important teachers along the way. You will arrive in the center of the labyrinth, and everything you have learned along the way will be invaluable.