Maya Angelou has advised, "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain."
What if you find yourself in a circumstance where you feel nearly powerless to change, or at least the changes you could potentially make would cause serious pain to people that you're responsible for, like your children. Or maybe the cost of the change isn't worth the damage.....
Maybe you've spent days, weeks, months, or years trying to change your attitude, trying to make sense out of the situation you're in, how you got into it, and how to live in it fully and happily.
Maybe your younger self chose the situation...chose to be compliant, chose recklessness, or chose to be blind to reality.
Maybe you have much to forgive yourself for.
When we are backed into a corner. When the only way out is to grab your loved ones and leap over the well armed walls. When we have been through the despair, suffered the humiliation, born the burden and the shame for too long. When we turn the page and say, "To hell with all of that I am what I am, and I am more than all of this." When we stand firmly and start to dig our heels into the earthen truth at our feet. When we learn to reject what threatens or demeans us.
That is when the nice girl begins to become the warrior.
I woke up with the thought today, "Jesus didn't stay in Nazareth all his life trying to be a nice, virtuous guy. He went out to the wilderness and came back a radical man full of unconditional love, ready and able to change his world." And he did not try to change the pharisees.
It is easy to listen to convention, to believe that compliance is wise, to fear growth, learning, and change. Most people do. That is not the narrow path.
I used to think that changing your attitude meant attempting to salvage what is left of a broken situation, or of a circumstance that breaks a person down.
My soul is beginning to say no to that. No more salvaging.
My soul is beginning to say yes to self-reliance on the human level, and to Spirit reliance on the spirit level.
My soul is saying no to prescribed roles and to conforming to "the way things are."
My soul is saying yes to changing attitudes from reliance, compliance, and salvaging to empowerment and creation.
My soul is saying yes to the freedom of others going their way while I go mine.
My soul is saying yes to ignoring judgement and fear.
Yes there are things we have to just survive. Of course there are things out of our control that we must bear, like the death of a loved on. They come with their grief and sorrow. We bear them and they grow us.
Most circumstances, I find, have opportunities of change woven within them. If you are feeling stuck in a situation that has no hope of change, I invite you to look inward at yourself, and see if there you find that you are more capable than you thought. Perhaps the situation is not so hopeless. Perhaps you are more powerful than you are currently allowing yourself to see.
Sometimes what we are capable is scary, because change can be scary. The unknowing is enough to scare us right back to our status quo, since it is at the very least sustaining our physical life. What I've heard and witnessed over and over again, though, is that the anticipation a thing is far worse than actual experience of the thing, even an u supremely comfortable thing. The more you actually experience, the more aware you are of what you can withstand.
I am still at the beginning of this journey.
Maya Angelou's quote is like a tool, it seems. I agree, we should never complain (hello, challenge), and the change of reality and the change of attitude are like the two handles of one of those sort of see saw rail car, you know what I'm talking about? Those old railway cars that people would pump a lever up and down to propel? Hand cars they're called. For a while we work on our attitude and then we need to switch and work on changing our reality and back and forth it goes, each action moves us down the line a little further, and if we get good at it, we can really start to fly down the rails. Complaining, though, is like putting on the brakes, or doing nothing.
Some questions to ask yourself could be, "Where am I with this? Do my circumstances, my world, need to change or do I need to change? Do I need to spend some time in the wilderness to connect with God or Spirit of my Self and realize my capabilities? Am I ready to change my circumstance right now? What can I do right now to start that change? Is my attitude getting in the way of changing? How could I change my attitude to make change more possible?"
It might not be easy at first. It might be a ton of work. I do believe that once we get rolling, though, that all we have to do is learn to keep a steady pace....but let's just take this one challenge at a time.
Anna Turner is the woman behind Little Hearth. She's an ordained interfaith minister, a writer, a believer in purposeful living and healing, a perpetual student, and a full time feminist mother.