Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Destroy to Create

Most of the time our life moves along slowly, making one incremental change after another. The changes may be imperceptible until we look back on a few months, or even years, and notice how far we have come. But then suddenly we find ourselves immersed in a rapid growth phase - where it seems that change is coming at us at the speed of light.

When we enter into a rapid growth phase in our life, it may be triggered by a voluntary change, like moving, getting married or having a baby. Some people may even go through one or more of those changes at the same time. While the voluntary life changes are challenging to navigate, there is also a built in component of anticipation and excitement. After all, we have chosen to make this change in our life.

Then there are the major life changes that are involuntary, like getting fired from a job, getting divorced, or being dumped by your boyfriend or girlfriend. Some people may also go through more than one of these changes at the same time. Maybe one change becomes the catalyst for another, until we find ourselves buried in an avalanche of life changes.

When these types of unexpected changes occur - when we feel like our entire world is crumbling all around us - we may wonder why. Why is this happening to me? Why is this happening now? Even if we believe that the universe has a plan for us, in those times of struggle, it is easy to start to question the intentions of the universe.

When I was in yoga teacher training, we learned about the three Gods in the Hindu triumvirate: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. These three Gods are responsible for the creation, upkeep and destruction of the world. Brahma is the creator of the universe and Vishnu is the preserver. Shiva is the destroyer. But his role is not merely to destroy the world for the sake of destruction. Shiva destroys the world in order to re-create it.

Hindus believe that Shiva's powers are used to destroy the illusions and imperfections of this world, thus paving the way for beneficial change. In my training, I was fascinated by Shiva and this idea of destroying something in order to re-create it.

There were so many times in my life that I felt trapped by my circumstances and yet, I wasn't sure how to get out. I remember feeling overwhelmed by all of the stuff in my house and wishing I could just throw it all out and start over. I remember wanting to just walk away from my job and start a new life doing something completely different.

Even when we have these urges for destruction in our life, we may not have the courage to act on them. (Just the act of writing the word 'destruction' feels so aggressive, it is hard to imagine that destroying something could be a positive thing.)

I know for me, the main reason I didn't act on those urges was that the destruction seemed easy, but the re-creation was another matter. Even though I was not happy with the way things were, I could not envision what I would do next. So I chose not to do anything at all.

That is where the universe comes into play. Even though you may not feel ready for the rapid fire changes that are coming at you, they may be exactly what you need. In fact, you will be stronger for having gone through these changes in your life.

So, how do we survive these periods of rapid growth and change? Every person is different and every situation is unique, however there are a few things that you may want to consider:

1. Take a step back.
Often when we are in a period of rapid change, we tend to feel overwhelmed and only focus on the negative (i.e. what we are losing). After your initial reaction, try to step back from your emotions and objectively look at the change and what it could mean in your life. Maybe deep down, you were ready to make a change but you hadn't acted on it yet. Try to think about what opportunity this change might open up for you.

2. Show yourself compassion.
No matter what happened or the reasons behind it, make sure to be kind to yourself in this process. Even if you made a mistake that you think contributed to the change and made everything in your life start to blow up, go ahead and acknowledge it. And then forgive yourself. Understand that you are only human. And you are doing the best you can. Repeat this to yourself as often as necessary.

3. Look for the lesson.
Try to find a lesson in the experience. If you believe you had a role in precipitating the change, maybe you will be able to do things differently the next time. Perhaps through this experience you were able to understand more about what you don't want in your life. And that will bring you closer to finding the people and experiences that will enrich your life. Take the time to learn your lesson from the experience and then move on.

While these periods of rapid growth and change can be scary, they are also very empowering. For whatever reason, the universe has gifted you with an opportunity to begin again. And while you may not feel like you had a choice about the destruction, you definitely have a role in the re-creation of your life. What you do with it is up to you.

No comments: