Newton’s First Law roughly states that an object in motion will stay in motion until acted upon by an opposing force. Similarly, an object at rest will stay at rest until stress is placed upon it to move it out of its inert state. While the words, or explanation, of the law varies from place to place and application to application, one idea that still comes through is the idea of change and stress. For something to stop or start from its opposite circumstances, it requires some force to be placed on it, stressing and changing it.
Can a fundamental law of science apply to humanity, to me? “The only constant in life is change” said Heraclitus, so if that is true, how does the this change affect us? How can we make it easier or more smooth for us? Reduce the ‘stress’ of something that, as Newton first stated, is a law?
Can you Step into the same river twice?
The adage follows (based on a flowing river) that the answer is no. While I’ve heard lots of clients complain “well, I already tried to stop/start that already”, the interesting thing is that they haven’t – not in this particular ‘part of the river’. While we might have failed to stop smoking, start that exercise program or new hobby, present a speech in front of others smoothly, the learning we have gained from our experiences has changed us. We are insightful beings and we can gain from the feedback we get from whatever results we face. We can learn what works and what doesn’t. To make the most of this learning curve, we need to keep in mind that while Albert Einstein defined insanity as ‘doing the same thing over and expecting different results’, we may also have success at a different temporal point – we weren’t ready then, but now we are, so we succeed at a different point in time. Give yourself a moment to consider the other components that might have worked against you in the past – are they different now? Even from reflection on the past is there something you can learn to help you make a stop or start in your life with less stress than before?
Resilience and Stress
A Japanese proverb translates roughly to “fall down seven times, get up eight”, and I always support perseverance with change. Many people ‘try’ something once and because it didn’t work, they stop. I am always a cheerleader for those who continue to approach shifts in their lives in different ways. I believe that some of the ‘stress’ that comes from change is the imaginativeness that is required in problem solving. If the brain is like a muscle and tends to get stronger when we challenge it, then our attempts at change are already shifting the components of the equation. We are getting stronger through the change process, whenever we bounce back (quickly or slowly) from a ‘failure’. Sometimes we forget and just write off our effort, especially when there aren’t the results to show for our strain. Let me take a moment to honour your endeavours – and shake my pom-poms – “Go! Go! Great Job! I’m proud of you!”
Wherever you go, there you are
But what’s the point in change if your history threatens to continue to define you? If you’re known as the “lady who won’t say no” or the “man with the hot temper” – can you be released or will those who have witnessed your past behavior wait for your relapse. Sometimes this can cause a huge amount of stress for people when they look to the future of change. And just as grandparents might believe that our favourite jam is still strawberry, when it’s been citrus marmalade for 20 years, we need to remember that their definition of our preserve choice does not affect the bread we grace it with. Our decisions and choices, right now, are ours to make. Sometimes, others may take some time to catch up – still putting out strawberry, or offering a cigarette or suggesting a movie instead of a walk – but we can be compassionate that they may be experiencing the stress of our change as well. And sometimes, as our own harshest critics, we may be projecting other’s challenge in our change – that many people who love and care for us, really want us to be the person we want and need to be.
Are squeaky wheels worth it?
But what about those who don’t? What about the people who seem to be relentlessly putting obstacles in our way? While it may not feel like the easiest to do, these are the people who require our greatest compassion. These may be people who feel that by your gain, they may lose something (a doormat, a smoking buddy etc.) In Shakespeare’s hamlet, Queen Gertrude says, “the lady doth protest too much methinks” when, watching a play, the actress was trying to convince others of something. We may touch something within them that they have been aiming to do with greater or lesser success, and your continued resolve may highlight their lack of accomplishment – they may envy our stressful journey. There may be squeaky wheels in our lives that will be fixed by a bit of our (affection/attention) oil, but many continue to squeak. When we can look at the actions and reaction of others in this way, we can eliminate some of the energy we might have expended in being the mechanic for someone else’s issue.
The Cost of No Change
Sometimes the stress stems from continuing in a way we’ve been stopping or going for a while. Every time we say to ourselves “you shouldn’t be doing this”, what does it do to our system? The internal conflict that we experience when we aren’t aligned with the direction we want our lives to flow causes physical, mental and emotional stress. One affects the other, which usually takes a great deal of energy from our resources and our day. When we feel badly about what we are or aren’t doing, feeling or being, we strain ourselves and unduly put ourselves under pressure. Over the long term, this can create profound challenges and dis-ease in our lives. The cost of no change at all may not be obvious over the short term, but may be too great over the long term.
Starting and Gaining Momentum
The beginning is the biggest part in stopping, starting or changing anything. It requires the greatest effort before inertia comes back into play, aligning with the natural ease of the rest of the law. Working with the subconscious mind, the being and feeling part of the mind, tends to make this ‘push’ much more undemanding from a conscious perspective. Self-hypnosis can help you lever the change with suggestions that support the move. Get the help of a professional to overcome any opposing forces that may exist of which you may or may not be aware. It’s the first law, so it is fundamental in the natural world. Looking at it from the perspective of change, there are ways to understand the concept of the ‘stress’ of change and overcome inertia, for good.