What If: Opening Yourself Up Means Changing the Idea of Who You Are?

  • “You need to change your clothes.”
  • “I need you to change your attitude.”
  • “Changing your work ethic is the only way you keep this job.”

If you have ever been on the receiving end of a similar comment, your defenses are probably already raised. You know what I’m talking about. Perhaps you have made the connection that I ponder – the need for change implies deficiency. Why would we change if there is nothing wrong? If someone calls us to change, is that a sign that things are not ok? I think that is the lie that I have been consumed by for decades.

The only times that I have felt compelled to work for change is when I was broken, hurting someone else or violating a human decency code. Usually, this comes when someone else calls me on the carpet for bad behavior. For someone wired like me, the opposite of the desired outcome is usually the impact. Watch me do what I want (insert 7 year old face with her thumbs in her ears and her tongue sticking out), because YOU CAN’T MAKE ME! To say that I resist personal change is a wild understatement. I hate it. I avoid it. Change hurts, even when the outcome is with a positive end goal. Change calls me to look for a new start, and new starts require unlearning behaviors and beliefs that have grown deep within me.

Walking in with the full knowledge that good can and should come from change, there is a root fear to soul change. To look at yourself – your questions, your thoughts, your passions, your doubts – is to stare down your very being. When we begin to dig into the deepest recesses of soul exploration we find defining beliefs. We find the causes and motivations for life decisions. We define the values that we place on relationships and wholeness and healing. The very things that characterize us as individualistically unique humans are accessed when we begin to evaluate the ‘what’s’ and ‘how’s’ of our belief systems.

I have recently reached a new personal line in the sand. These are the moments in my life where I know a change is needed. When I reach the moment that I cannot force myself to live in a way that no longer feels like home, I am headed toward an interior remodel. In this season, I have been called to look at, explore, evaluate, access and define who and what I value, what I believe, who I long to connect with and where I long to grow. These excavation projects come with a similar fear that the opening three statements evoke. I might even suggest that the internal stare downs are more painful because I know the truth. I know that I CAN do better. I know that I have not worked on the things that I value. I am fully, painfully, aware that my outlook and attitude must change. And it is in that moment that I have to ask the hard question. Do I want to redefine my being or stick with my safe, known self?

I love that this question of change is posed with the word “open” as the root. That’s the very best version of change. To open is to allow access to your heart. To open is to uncover your soul. To open is to spread out. I don’t know about you, but these are the very things that I need more of in my life. I need to remove the coverings from the things that are obscured. I need to release myself from old beliefs about what “is” or “supposed to be.” When we begin to change the foundations of structure and systems, when we dismantle old thinking and truly open our heart and mind and soul to the next version of ourselves, we WILL change. And the change will hurt. The growing will be painful. You don’t get taller without stretching your muscles and tendons. You don’t get a degree without the painful work of study. You don’t get the mature marriage or friendship without changing what those relationships are when they start.

In addition to the writing that I have put out for the blog world to read, I have recently done some hard writing about changes in my own life. One of my favorite questions that has spurred both joy and pain is “What is my boundary?” I wrote this a few weeks ago:

I want to stop operating from a place of responsibility to others and begin recognizing the truth that is inside me. I want to believe that the Knowing that I have in my connection to my own soul is enough – that I don’t have to water it down or make it digestible to the masses so I can speak truth. My boundary will be my own discontent. 

There is nothing that will change your own ideas of self like honoring your soul. When I listen to my own discontent, things cannot help but change, because I change. When I know that my gut tells me that something is off, that someone is not giving me their truth – and I actually freaking listen – everything MUST change. That’s the kind of change that I am about today. Not the shame change. Not the blame change. Not even the should change. I’m here for the I AM WORTH IT change. I am worth all of the discomfort and hardness and unsureness and fear because I know that the version of me on the other side is a freaking badass. I’m making a toast to opening up. Who is drinking with me today?

What If: This Season Changed the Way We Do Life?

How is your household holding up? Is anyone else tired of trying to sift through the entire book of emotions (all of which have probably been felt at some point) to put your finger on the pulse of today’s crazy? I have not driven a car in more than a month. I have not been in a building that was not my home in 36 days. My two big “outings” have included riding in a car with someone else driving too remind myself that, in fact, the world has not ended. To say that I am on the crazy making roller coaster is a serious understatement. Some days I am completely content to have my simple schedule. Some days I am ready to claw the eyes out of all of the people in my path. Today may be one of those days…

For all the Enneagram lovers, I was quite fond of this accurate description of people like me:

“This type is mad. They’re mad they can’t protect or provide for everyone. They’re mad that people they think are incompetent have the power to restrict their movements. They’re certain if they were in charge they could do things better than everyone else. And they’re especially repelled by what they perceive as weakness in the people around them.”

One of my greatest struggles has been my inability to control the irresponsible actions of other people. I am the person that sees your Snapchat picture with your “one best friend” and judges you for being in public. That’s me. I realized that part of my struggle is that I am completely uncomfortable with anyone except for me being in charge. I hate it. And I would really be much happier if I could control ALL the things. But I can’t. And I can’t see my mom and dad. And I can’t watch my daughter graduate and go to prom. And I can’t hang out with my friend. While my go to is anger, the root is sadness. I am sad. This is hard. So, very hard.

On the days when I can find some clarity of thought, I try to be mature and wise and thoughtful and ponder these types of ‘what if’s,’ but you must know, this is not my natural posture. But for the sake of this question, here are 5 things that I have picked up from this bizarre and challenging time:

  1. I need my people. My people are more important than I thought. I have loved the time that I have shared with my husband and daughters. We have cooked and laughed and yelled and worked puzzles and had movie marathons. I love these 3 with all of my heart. But, GOOD GRIEF, I need the other people. I need the ones that talk to me in different emotional languages. I need the ones that sit at coffee with me for 3+ hours…something that would be painful for the current occupants of my home. I need the ones that like to challenge my thoughts rather than my instructions to load the dishwasher. My other people are necessary.
  2. I need to adventure. I miss getting in my car and driving with the windows down and the radio loud. I know what you are about to say, “you could still do that.” But if you have ever been around me, you know that my drives include big boujee drinks and frequent bathroom stops. Neither of these are stay-at-home friendly. I would also be the jerk that has a wreck joy riding…and I would NEVER hear the end of it.
  3. I need to have a better rhythm. I resist being told how and when to do things. But one thing that I know that has to change after this season is that I must build into my life rhythmic time for walking and thinking and soul stillness. I can know these things are necessary, but until they are thrust upon me I don’t appreciate them. And even then, no one is making me do them now, but there is so much down time that in my boredom I have done the things that I really need. I have seen these moments transform my quarantine experience. I don’t always enjoy what these moments expose, but I treasure truth. Rhythm is gold for people like me. And I hope I can continue to see the value when the schedule fills again.
  4. I need to say “no” more. I like to be needed. Because I know that I can do all the things, I tend to take the reins of projects that should not be mine in the first place. This season has taught me that it is healthy to step out. I am not responsible for all the people. I am not able to control the people or the things. So, dear Lacy, know your role.
  5. And here is the big one: I don’t need to go to Target, Marshall’s and all the other places like it is my job. I miss wandering. I miss being lost in a moment of dreaming of new and exciting. I have traditionally found that in shopping and buying. While I have purchased things on the internet, I have honestly not missed wandering in a store. I find wandering in my neighborhood walking trails has produced a similar experience with less debt and more wisdom. I’m not saying that this won’t ever happen again, but I do think this new awareness has been insightful and challenging. I’m looking forward to finding new places to wander and dream when I explore again.