Change Reveals Weakness
Three times in my football career I tore ligaments in my knees and needed surgery. It was never the dreaded illegal block or some vicious hit; maybe that would have made it seem more like real battle injuries. Apparently I just have bad genetics for knee stability and in each case, it was due to my own change of direction; twisting here, planting there. Changing directions during 2 games and one practice finally forced me to give it up. My uncle had bad knees, my older brother, my grandmother. It was bound to happen eventually and sudden changes in my movements resulted in one of the most difficult breakups I ever experienced: I had to walk away from my first true love, playing football. Seems like the same is true in life: change often shows us–in a big way–what was already weak. Recently a client shared an experience of being at her grandmother’s funeral. There had been many years of conflict among certain family members, but the conflicts had turned into avoidance, mostly, even though the pain was very real for her. So everyone gets together to honor the late matriarch and the revelations began. Bickering, blaming, name-calling, profanity, making excuses. Had this “change” not taken place, the conflicts and tension would have continued to lie dormant, awaiting the next big event to bring it to light. Luckily, my client was able to make some discoveries about herself and those who had hurt her over the years. She discovered who truly cared and who didn’t. She discovered what she really needed and realized, once-and-for-all, what certain family members were made of. She had been stuck, not knowing what to do to keep moving forward. While it was a painful to lose her loved one and be literally be confronted by those who have hurt her, she walked away better, no longer bitter. Such is the theme of stories I hear many times when big changes have come along, uninvited. Job changes, divorces, the loss of friends or financial stability all have embedded in them the power to show us what we need to do moving forward. After a divorce, for example, one man resorted to his default coping strategy–drugs and alcohol–and eventually realized he needed some better ways to deal with the difficulties in life. After a job loss, one woman was forced to look at her poor financial management and started working from a budget, but not before nearly “going under” as she would often say. So, change shows us what is weak. But if we look for it, these events can also bring us to a more evolved, better version of ourselves. I learned to take it a little easier on my genetically-predisposed unstable knees. I learned my limitations and it was a gift, really. When changes come into your life, you will become keenly aware of things that need your attention. The you inside of you wants to grow. Welcome these illuminating circumstances–even if they are painful–as opportunities to do something different. And change doesn’t only reveal weaknesses, but also your strengths. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.