Sunday, May 6, 2012

Learning to Love Change

For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes. –Dag Hammarskjold

Saying Yes to Change is the title of Alex Blackwell’s new book. I loved the title before I ever started reading the book, and things just got better from there. If you don’t know Alex yet, he writes The Bridgemaker, one of my favorite blogs.

I’m coming late to the book review party, so you may have already read some of the many excellent reviews and interviews. At one point, I wondered what I could possible add to the plethora of praise pouring out over this book. (I love the word “plethora” and look for opportunities to use it!) But I realized that every reviewer or interviewer was taking a personal message or lesson from the book, so that no two reviews were the same. And that, I think, is the highest praise. What that means is that this book has an important message just for me. And for you, too.

Alex begins by telling a story, his story, the story of a painful childhood. He tells it in stark and moving honesty, yet without self pity. The scars left were some that many of us can relate to – perfectionism and denial. I knew them both well for much of my life. As Alex describes getting to the point in his adult life when he knew it was time to change, I was so excited. Anytime anyone says yes to changing his life, then all of us benefit and can be inspired to change our own.

To help us along, Alex offers 10 life lessons, simple and direct, blending his story with the wisdom he has gained. Each lesson is broken down into strategies that are easy to understand and immediately applicable in our daily lives. Change isn’t far in the future. We can start right now.

As I said, the beauty of the book is that there is a special message in it for each of us. All the lessons are ones that all of us, I think, will relate to and benefit from. But one, perhaps, will stand out just for you.

For me, it was the second one, “Find freedom from pain.” Just even reading those words hit a tender, raw place in my heart. I took a deep breath and read on. Our typical way of dealing with pain is to deny it or try to escape it. The first step in finding freedom from pain, Alex says, is to acknowledge it, and the second is to accept it. No denial. No escape. Not such an enticing idea. But the payoff is freedom. Soul healing, spirit lightening, freedom. When pain is no longer so scary, when we no longer try to beat it into submission or hide from it, it becomes a doorway to freedom.

Buddhists teach about the “suffering of suffering.” In other words, when life’s inevitable challenges come knocking, we spend so much effort struggling with them that we become locked into pain. Instead, we could, as Alex suggests, simply allow, release, let go. Refocus on our beauty and strengths, on the blessings that accompany all of life’s unfolding.

So much of life’s pain comes from our resistance to change. In her book Open the Door, Joyce Rupp quotes a poem about change, the last line of which is “Change is beautiful; you will learn to love it.” The poem was written by a 12 year old girl who died in a car accident the day after she wrote it, making the poem even more poignant and perhaps even prescient.

We don’t know the details of tomorrow’s gifts, but we do know that the gifts will come wrapped in change. Alex’s book Saying Yes to Change helps us learn to love it.

Click here for more information about the book and how to buy it.

related posts: The Courage to Change; It Is Not So; The Doors of Change

32 comments:

  1. Change is necessary always....to experience growth...Love being the source of change...bringing forth delightful changes....Morning friend....I love your thoughts this a.m.

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    1. Rhonda, I like your idea of love being the source of change. Thanks for your comment.

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  2. We are both honoring our friend Alex Blackwell and his book this week - you with your words and I with a sample chapter of Lesson 4 - change - a beautiful invitation for the rotatioin of life....

    In gratitude,
    Nancy

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    1. Nancy, I've been enjoying all the review's of Alex's book. Thanks for commenting.

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  3. Lovely review, Galen. I was looking forward to reading this. :-)I like your expression "Gifts wrapped in change". Hugs!

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  4. Hi Galen :-) I have actually been thinking of change lately--change with myself and with my life. I do think it is good and is essential for my growth.

    "Find freedom from pain." I find that statement striking. I think that's something I should learn to do, because most of the time, I would either escape from it or resist it.

    Thank you for this post, Galen. It had me enlightened. Take care and God bless :-)

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    1. Irene, Escaping or resisting pain is what most of us do. Too bad it doesn't work too well! Alex's chapter on finding freedom from pain helped me see some better approaches. Thanks for your comment.

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  5. What a great testimony you have written here, Galen. It definitely makes me want to read this book. Changes in our lives are inevitable and we do need to learn to embrace them.
    Blessings!

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    1. Martha, I have done a lot of training in Buddhist meditation. One theme is in my training was "everything is impermanent." Not fighting change or not trying to control it was a big lesson for me. Thanks for commenting.

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  6. Very nice review Galen and Yes I think everyone will find something unique and different in Alex's book.

    I think I really started to live when I embraced that my spirit was all about change - I stepped out of my father's car onto the college campus and changed my name, then pierced my ears in the bathroom about 25 minutes after my parents had driven away...in celebration.
    Rarely do I have buyers remorse except when I get fatigued at trying to pull someone into my sphere

    I just don't feel alive trying to hold on to the things that do not work for me

    Thank you for your good words shared here

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    1. Patricia, Leaving home is a big first step of change in many of our lives. Love the story about piercing your ears! Thanks for your comment.

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  7. We must accept change as it is inevitable in this life. If we do not accept it, and rail against it, we are setting ourselves up for a bitter and sad time of it. I will check out this book. Thank you Galen.

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    1. Setting ourselves up is a good way to look at it. We increase our suffering by fighting it. It's like quicksand. Thanks for your comment.

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  8. I have hear dog him and now i will check out his blog, Thank you! people love suggestions in number,don't they ;)

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    1. Ha! True about the numbers. I must like them, too, since I came up with 10 Steps! Thanks for commenting.

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  9. Galen

    It's funny, I had a knee jerk reaction to the title of this post which illustrates my true inner feelings about change! Well, it would be good to be open to changing that. :)

    I loved hearing your thoughts about pain because so much comes down to the willingness to open to pain...and eventually discovering it's really not the monster we might have thought. Thank you for your insights and encouragement to open to the raw places.

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    1. Sandra, You and me both. I have not always been a big fan of change, especially change that I was not choosing and planning for! Thanks for your kind words.

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  10. Sounds like a good read. Change is inevitable so it's important to learn to confront it in a proactive, positive way. Thanks for this review.

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    1. Myrna, Yes, dealing with change in a positive way is a good idea because it's going to happen anyway. Thanks for your comment.

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  11. I have been On Alex's Blog for some time now and I love it!! I also have his book. It is really a great one!!

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    1. Nicky, I agree! Thanks for commenting.

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  12. I have not read the book, but I am absolutely certain that change is a necessary component to long-term happiness.

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    1. JJ, I agree--change is intimately connected to happiness. Thanks for commenting.

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  13. I love posts on change. Thanks for this one and I will look into the book for sure. Change is such an important word to us all. Life experiences do bring about a lot of change in our lives.
    Have a Happy Mother's Day Galen!

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    1. LeAnn, I never thought about loving posts about change, or even loving change, for that matter! I have learned to love it, as the poem said, but it was an acquired taste! Thanks for your comment and Happy Mother's Day to you, too.

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  14. Sounds like a great book, Galen. I think about quitting smoking, something I started when I was a teenager. It took me 30 years to finally quit and countless attempts. But the last time stuck because I accepted that there would be pain involved in this type of change and realizing that by not fighting the change, the pain eventually went away.

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    1. Adriene, Quitting smoking is a great example! Thank for your comment.

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  15. change is unavoidable so its better to love it
    thanks for the post : )

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  16. What a lovely tribute to Alex's book, Galen. Change is the only constant. It is inevitable, no matter how hard you try and resist it. I have learnt it the hard way the past two and a half years. My life was a pattern of pain and humiliation. It took a lot out of me till I realized that I needed to change, to accept what I was doing was all wrong. I would love to get a copy of this book. Thank you for sharing this Galen.

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    1. Rimly, I'm sure you will enjoy it. Thanks for commenting.

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