Change does not come easy for some. For me… it’s almost too easy.
I am always ready to make one plan… and then toss it out as soon as my pen leaves the paper.
Dave will often say that I don’t give things a long enough chance to see if they actually work before I’ve moved on to a different idea. In my mind, being stagnant is terrifying… being fluid is freeing.
The problem with this though, is that being fluid in every aspect of life is not particularly helpful. Being fluid in parenting styles creates frustrated and confused children. Being fluid in diets creates cupboards full of half eaten foods. Being fluid in the workplace means financial instability. Fluid is not always better than stagnant.
I think for me, I get frustrated with the idea that change takes time and that often it seems that time will never come. I get frustrated with those around me who don’t like change and actively resist it, even when beneficial. And so I race ahead, making changes so rapidly that I’m literally dragging my family behind in a Bex shaped wake.
And then I think about our anxious family system. You know, the one where the husband and the kids all need calm and smooth and the Mom is running around like a chicken with her head cut off…. that family system.
Because I am an over-functioner. When things get stressful, I like to do. Everything! Quickly! And I like to change everything! Quickly!
Because somewhere, at some point in time, I got it into my little head that if I just make a wholesale change in our household, all the struggles will go away. (Insert laugh emoji here because this is a truly ridiculous thought) I had it in my head that if I change the chore system, the boys will stop resisting doing chores. If I had colour coded meal plans, the kids will eat the food. If I organized themed family meetings, we’d all want to be together to play dumb games and bond over the appropriate food.
And when all of these things didn’t work… I’d throw them all out and take on a whole new set of ideas.
Change can be overwhelming for some. I can see that now. Especially the some who live with me. I think that over-functioners can be overwhelming to others. I know that when I’m in my anxious go, go, go change phase, I’m pretty…well… obnoxious, careless, blind. I don’t often think about the “some” who are around me and what it feel like to be in that Bex shaped wake.
But I’ve also noticed that people who don’t like change stir up anxiety in me. So it’s like a double edged sword… when I’m anxious, I want change and those who resist said change, make me anxious. Circles can be the most frustrating shape ever.
So how to step out of the circley-sprial?
One, I very much need to stop wishing, hoping, dreaming that others will love change as much as I do. And probably more accurately, I need to stop being in their faces about it.
We all show up a certain way when we’re anxious. There are fighters and distancers. There are the over and under functioners. There are the trianglers… inviting others to be part of their mess. We all have our ways…most of us are even blessed with more than one (insert my photo here).
So when someone is actively trying to distance themselves from the anxious event, and the over functioner runs up to them and demands they change… that distancer is off and running in the opposite direction, change nowhere on their horizon.
This is what’s going on in my family. It’s been going on since Dave and I were married. And almost 22 years later, we’re still excelling at this. Except I’m tired of it. And if I had to guess, I’d say he’s tired of it too… and actually… I know this because he’s told me. And I’m guessing that our kids are tired of it too…. because they’ve told me too.
Back to “how to get out of the circley-spiral?” I saw something a few days ago that really caught my attention. Not new shoes unfortunately, but a quote. And I’m sorry to whoever said it, I can’t remember where I saw it or who’s name was attached to it, but here’s your credit.
Change happens with Intention.
Huh! Probably not rocket science but it sure spoke to me.
I’ve been stuck in the “change takes time and I hate slow” loop for so long now that this quote just up and knocked my legs out from under me.
Change happens with intention.
I know this. I changed my diet and my exercise to help my body. Today I did a 2 minute plank and that felt huge. It has been my intention to be as healthy as I possibly can and now, I see the fruit of those changes.
But for whatever reason, I wasn’t able to connect the intention part with the rest of my life and the world around me. And I almost feel stupid saying it but I’m just so happy that things are clicking into place that I have to share.
Because… what do intentional family systems look like? What do intentional school systems look like? What do intentional governments look like? What do intentional communities look like? And I think we have these… kind of? Maybe? Somewhere?
Our systems are still pretty highly anxious. The people are still showing up in their own anxious ways. So I’m wondering if the intention we thought we had was really just the loudest person implementing their ways onto whatever system they’re working in. Hard to be intentional in a group where everyone has their own idea of what the intention looks like.
So then, what does an intentional system look like? One that works. Maybe curious? Maybe good listening? Maybe not always have to be right? Maybe being connected even in disagreements? Maybe boundaries? Maybe self-awareness?
I think that’s a pretty decent start.
When I think of an intentional system and some of these facets, I actually have hope that my little family won’t be stuck in our mucky downward spiral forever. Because I can see conversations that have deep listening but also boundaries. I can see grace in conversation. I can see us apologizing and being forgiven and cleaning up the messes we made. I can see physical and emotional connection in times of discouragement.
The changes start with me, not pushing my own agenda or some fancy flowchart life plan, but with my willingness to listen and hear what’s being said. The changes start with me, laying down my Dutch heritage (or pride, whichever is stronger) to say “I might be wrong about that”.
Change does take time. But when I am intentional about how I show up and who I want to be in the midst of our downward, mucky spiral, the grinding of the breaks will sound and slowly the gears will start turning the other way.
And when we find the sweet spot to all be intentional together, we’ll be running…un-stoppable.. up that spiral.