Every time there’s a choice to be made by the characters in the movie, The Piano, director Jane Campion has them select an unexpected direction or response. This is so refreshing. In most Hollywood movies things are so predicable that my interest wanes and I feel frustrated by the lack of imagination in what I’m watching. I feel like I have wasted my time, and usually quit watching before the end.
Recently, I’ve been feeling less and less interested in my habitual, familiar ways of reacting to situations and experiences in my life. This experience of The Piano has moved into my consciousness as a metaphor of a longing that has risen there: to choose the unfamiliar response that by its very definition would create a different outcome.
As a trained coach and student of personal and spiritual development, I have over the years developed a new understanding of what is optimal in responding to others and life situations. And yet under pressure and in stressful situations, I find myself resorting to the old boring familiar, which results in my feeling an old boring familiar state of being with the same old boring outcomes.
It often shows up when change is happening internally and there is not an immediate manifestation in my world. I fill in the gap with fear and scarcity, projecting that what I want to materialize may not be available for me. And in my preoccupation with this scarcity state, I am looking away from opportunities that might be presenting themselves right before my eyes.
It also shows up in my parenting. As my young adult sons find their way in life, I sometimes fall into the habitual emotional response of anxiety and worry when communicating with them, rather than communicating trust and belief in their choices as their create their unique lives.
It shows up in my concern for the state of worldly affairs, wanting to pull back in fear of what could be, yet voraciously devouring the daily news.
These states of fear, anxiety, worry and scarcity are not even wholly mine. They have been handed down generation to generation as a way to respond to life. And keeping these habitual states of response alive robs me of moving into what I know to be more optimal: curiosity, openness and receptivity to what is unfolding.
So now I am aiming to choose differently; to communicate with my children, others and myself in a way that I know is most helpful from my coach training—to inquire more deeply into longings, urges and desires in order to cultivate more understanding and awareness around creating a pleasurable life moment to moment.
And as I respond differently, I feel more aligned with who I am, where I am now and what I know to be true, rather than the tired predictable ways I learned from an earlier unobserved conditioning. And as I do, new possibilities and outcomes open up…
Where in your life do you notice the habitual taking over? Can you step back and choose differently? And when you do, how does this affect your experience, the outcome of the situation, the relationship?
Remember, in this new way of being, that years of habit require conscious effort until the new habit develops. So be kind and gentle with yourself when you fall back into the familiar.
By just considering what would be a possible new way of responding, of being, it opens up life in a curious and adventuresome way. And new outcomes are guaranteed.