Don’t Throw in the Towel

During our lives, many of get to a place where we just want to burn it all down and start over. We want out. We retreat. We want to start over and have it be better the next time around. We don’t want to do it any more. We just want to start again.

Sometimes we get the opportunity to set off and start anew. Unfortunately, what we often find is that while the scenery has changed, our problems remain the same.

During most summers, I spend about 7 hours in my car, every other weekend, driving home to visit my family. I love to make the long trek back home to enjoy time on the lake with my friends and family back home. The majority of my trip is spent at a gleeful and fast-paced interstate route, going 80 mph, making great time. But eventually, once we are about an hour away from our destination, everything changes. Suddenly, the only route to our destination is on county highways and gravel roads. The pace shifts to a crawl. It’s maddening to suddenly go from quickly moving along, making manic progress to maintaining such a slow crawl. It’s a challenge to keep myself from slamming down the accelerator and getting right back to cruising along at a smooth 80mph pace. At this point in my trip, 80mph is what feels natural; it’s become a habit and one I have to consciously brake (pun intended).

Our brains’ ability to get comfortable functioning in a particular state goes beyond my interstate driving. Just like when I moved from interstate to county highways, whenever we change the circumstances of our lives, our ingrained habits come right along with us. Changing to gravel roads doesn’t stop my ingrained desire to drive 80mph. Moving to a new environment does not make it easier to stop speeding in the same way that burning it all down and replacing it with something shiny and new, will not “fix” your tendencies. In the new space, we will find ourselves facing the same challenges all over again:

We say yes when we mean no.

We take on too much.

We struggle to disconnect.

We beat ourselves up over every mistake.

We fail to honor our priorities.

We doubt our abilities.

Those thoughts are like my 80mph climb back home. I’m comfortable there; I know that space. It’s uncomfortable to try and do something different. In the same way, it will take practice and work to change our patterned thinking, regardless of the scenery. No matter what external factors we change, it won’t have a lasting impact on our lives unless and until we change our patterning.

Switching over to gravel roads doesn’t change my tendency toward 80mph, I have to make that change consciously and with effort and attention. Burning it all down and starting over will not change whatever patterning we have that is plaguing us. That work will always be there waiting for us, no matter where we go.

Real change can only come from within and the external circumstances have no bearing on that kind of change.

Are you ready?


Photo by Peter Fazekas from Pexels