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Change, Changing, Changed: Living Through Purposeful Choice

Climbing the mountains of life can be done well, if we stay centered.

Key points

  • Learning to choose well creates the capacity to change in service of one's highest purpose.
  • Many inner and outer influences can push a person toward choices that are not in their best interests.
  • A person's Best Self is the clearest anchor into knowing how they need to change.
Dorothy Firman
The mountains we climb!
Source: Dorothy Firman

Change happens for all sorts of reasons and under many circumstances. “The only constant is change,” as the saying goes. And as we reflect on changes, past, present and future, we tend to evaluate them, often in the good or bad category. And certainly, as we plan for a change and go towards making it happen, we’re likely thinking of changes that are “good” for us, for the world, for those we love. Change also happens outside of our choice. It rains on our picnic; we get sick; people we love die; the world seems to be a little crazier. Whatever it is that happens to us, leaves us with only the choice of how we respond to it. And this gives us a lot of power.

In both cases, changes we choose to make and changes that happen outside of our control, we still have agency. We can still change towards that which serves our own truest Self. We can and will evolve. And if we bring our best Self to the task of “changing well” we will always have options, inner or outer, bigger and smaller, subtle or loud!

But how do we choose well? We all have a long list of “shoulds” that want to drive our changes. We all have people in our world with ideas about how we could change “for the better.” Our families of origin, our cultures, even our friends, will influence us, pulling us towards this or that change (aligned or not aligned with our own purposeful goals). Our efforts to change, if they are sourced from limiting ideas, old voices within, urges to please, or unexamined impulses towards this or that, may, in fact, lead us astray.

If you are currently thinking of a change you might make, check in to see if these phrases resonate. If they do, you may want to go inside a bit more deeply to find a clearer source.

  • I should…
  • I really want to…
  • I have to…
  • I need to…
  • I could…
  • And you’ll have your own words for the pull towards change that does not come from a centered place.

The most enlightening changes are often the ones that come from that most centered place within us, free of old stories, connected to deep and abiding purpose. The connection to purpose will move us beyond our limitations, to our values, our sense of meaning in life, our very Call of Self. And connecting to purpose will be a guidepost along the way, to keep us from losing our way. This is true of changes we choose, consciously, to make, and also true of changes that happen to us, against our desires. When the world gives us lemons, we still have a lot of choice. Lemonade sounds good!

A purpose-based call to change will feel aligned and will have energy in it. Its language will be firm and centered.

  • I choose this….
  • I am called towards…
  • My values ask of me that I….
  • To do this will honor the meaning in my life….
  • This choice is deep and true…

And there is so much we can bring into our deliberation about change. If we’ve started with a purpose, that is driven by deepest values, needs, and truths, then taking some time to check in will keep us clear. Watching out for the ways we might get pulled off-center, we can attend to the various pushes and pulls within, not by trying to oppress them, but by hearing them. It is the gathering of the inner tribe that will help us move clearly forward. What part of me (a subpersonality, perhaps) is going to sabotage this intention? Is there an old message that says I won’t succeed? Where do I have resources, inner and outer, to support me? Deliberating into deeper knowing, more information, cues to successful strategies, will empower the choice.

Fill in these blanks if you are at a choice point or in consideration of an important change.

  • My purpose calls me to…
  • Inner conflicts that rise up include...
  • I can work with these conflicts, compassionately and effectively by…
  • The choice I am making is…
  • I affirm this choice with this reminder...

One more important idea here is about how to make purpose line up with a choice that will work. Purpose may be clear to us, while the choice to bring it into manifestation may not be. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” they say. We need to change in service of deep purpose. And we need to change in ways that will actually work.

  • My purpose is to help save the world….. hmmm.
  • So many inner conflicts arise: How? Is there hope? Where do I put my energy? What about the part of me that just wants a long nap?
  • Attending to these, I will make time for some self-care, I’ll research the many ways I might contribute and assess my options.
  • I make a choice to do one small thing, as a first step.
  • I remind myself that it is always one step at a time.

By “chunking” down the choice to small, manageable, and likely successful steps, we will be able to climb that mountain, whatever it is. That journey of a thousand miles always begins with one step. Watching the mountain top we are heading for and watching the ground we are walking on, we will continue to change, to grow, to evolve… What is my next small, but important, step?

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