We encounter a couple of different kinds of personal change in our lives. One kind comes as a matter of course—through things we learn and the experiences we have. Another kind comes because we've seen something inside ourselves that isn't in alignment with who we want to be. So we set a course to change it.
The first kind happens to everyone. The second kind happens with varying frequency. Many times the first kind spurs the second kind. For example, someone who is good at their job, might get promoted. That's the kind of change that comes as a matter of course. A promotion will thrust many changes upon a person, but beyond that, will they also have the wisdom to look within and see parts of their personality that also have to step up the plate? Their ultimate success will depend on how well they fill the new skin life has given them.
I've known many people who turned down promotions or other "professionally advantageous" roles because they didn't want to change whatever needed to be changed. That's not the way they see it. They say it's because they don't want to manage others or whatever. But it's really about not wanting to change what's necessary to fill that skin. There are plenty of bad managers out there who took the job anyway and either don't see the need to change or refuse to fully step into the reality of the role. So it's good to be self aware enough to either know your limitations or self confident enough to bust right on through them. The people who do neither—and there are a lot of those—never really achieve true satisfaction from life, imo.
For me and many of you, I'm sure, that second kind of change is part of your path of spiritual and personal growth. Some people don't put that much stock in it and, like I said above, they're often stuck or unhappy people. Some are blissfully unaware, I suppose. But the thing is, we all nonetheless end up holding on to our toxic or growth-stunting ways longer than is necessary...at least I've never met anyone who changes efficiently and immediately at the point of bad-behavior-identification without angst.
Even as much as I resist change, though, I can barely recognize myself from who I've been in the past. Sure, some things are the same. My sense of humor has never changed. But I like that part of me. Other parts—the drama, control issues, etc.—have significantly abated to the point that they no longer characterize me. Don't get me wrong. I'm dramatic. I like my dramatic flair. But I didn't like wallowing in drama, creating it, perpetuating it, etc., so I've changed a lot of that. And I like myself much better as a result.
I was recently reading a friend's Facebook thread where she talked about burning all her journals. "Holy crap!" I thought, "what sort of madness would drive her to do that? OMG. OMG! OMG!!!" But her answer was simple. She summed it up with a quote, "when you hold on to your history, you do it at the expense of your destiny."
She said burning her journals was liberating. And I imagine it is. So now I'm considering doing the same thing. I see myself as someone whose history—the insecurities, limitations, fears, abuses and abusers—stands in the way of my destiny.
Change with intention. It's always scary, because you're leaving behind someone you know pretty well to step into someone you've yet to meet. And it's not like the old you was all that bad, but when you're dedicated to doing what Iyanla Van Sant calls "your work", which is moving toward freedom from the things that trip you up, hold you back and keep you running in circles, it's what you do.
Right now, I'm aware of insecurities that need to be secured and a fullness of my own power and capability that I need to step into. This is actually the most recent part of a process that began maybe more than a decade before when I decided I want to be a spiritual teacher and a writer. I feel like each day and year, I walk further and further into that skin and look around for the places that need paint and spackle so I can feel comfortable living in my new skin when I'm ready to live in it full time. One day someone will say I'm lucky that I got to where I am, and I'll tell them that "luck" is almost entirely preparation...being ready to step into an opportunity you have pursued.
In fact, one of the gifts of the awkwardness, conflict and general ass-hattery that happens in our lives is that it shows us what we need to move beyond. If we see things like that as a reflection of something in our lives, that is. Lots of people just see it as conflict and win/lose and so they continue swimming in the same circles. But if we look within and ask why, we can use the things that bring us pain and discomfort as "lucky" vehicles to help us rise to another level.
These things don't always show us the exact path and the exact things that need to change, but they show us the direction we need to walk in. And you know what? Sometimes we're going to take a wrong turn or step too boldly. And we'll never be perfect. But at least we'll have gotten a good ride from this lifetime. We'll have pursued something larger than us. And, in the end, we'll have seen life through the eyes of the many different incarnations we've created for ourselves. And maybe then we'll come that much closer to understanding what all of it has been about.