Change and The Natural Law of Cycles
All problems (and solutions) present themselves as a cycle of cause and effect. When this cycle is negative, there are three ways to change. You can change the cause, change the effect, or choose the most powerful option … become the cause!
Change the cause: On some level, this is what most people try first, meaning that when feeling angry, frustrated, or stressed, most people try to fix the problem by changing what they believe made them upset in the first place. However, because so many of the things we encounter in life (the economy, traffic, other people, etc.) are beyond our control, this tact generally results in our feeling worse, and thus the cycle of stress and frustration is created and exacerbated.
Therefore, my suggestion around changing the cause isn’t about changing the world so that we feel better. What I mean when I suggest that we change the cause is that we take responsibility for creating our surroundings in such a way that we are well served. For example, we make sure we get the rest we need, we eat when we are hungry, we become very purposeful about how and with whom we spend our time, we take a different route to avoid traffic, or at least choose something pleasant to listen to while we drive, etc. Basically, what we do is take 100% responsibility for taking care of ourselves by honoring our body’s signals (fatigue=rest, hunger=food, massage=Ahhhhhh:-) and changing what we can.
The second option involving the natural law of cycles is more powerful, however, it is certainly a road less traveled, because most people don’t even think it’s possible. It’s about dealing with the cycle of cause and effect by changing the effect. This involves changing how difficult situations and people effect us by choosing how we want to respond.
This tact begins with the assumption that we are not responding to all the problematic situations in our life “on purpose.” This means that we are not deliberately becoming stressed, frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, etc., and thus the first question we must ask ourselves is how would we like to respond, or what qualities and characteristics would we choose if we were responding more purposefully? When asked this question, most people choose qualities such as patience, confidence, compassion, integrity, etc. Once these are chosen, the next step is to practice responding in this more deliberate fashion. In other words, we use traffic as an opportunity to practice responding with patience (or however we would like to be), meetings as an opportunity to practice responding with confidence, etc.
Because anything that is practiced (i.e. repeated over and over) will eventually become a habit, we will, in time, become skilled at responding in this more purposefully chosen manner, and this will change how life affects us. This is certainly better than continuing to be affected by life, however, as nice as this option is, we are still the effect, which leads us to the most powerful option in dealing with the natural law of cycles … becoming the cause!
This third option is even more unorthodox than the first two and, thus, it is even more rare, however, I believe that this is the most powerful way to deal with the natural law of cycles. As I mentioned, rather than advise you to change the cause or change the effect, I am suggesting that we flip the cycle and become the cause.
This means that we first identify the best of who we are. Chances are this will look very similar to the purposeful qualities and characteristics identified in option two, however, rather than seeing these traits as a response to the challenging aspects of life, these qualities (clarity, confidence, creativity, etc.) become what we carry into each scenario, almost as if the situation were a scene from a play and our mission was to first define our character, and then step on stage and be who we are.
I call this “becoming the cause” for two reasons. First, given that we have defined who we are in advance, and have identified our purpose as being this person, we will have “become the cause” (versus the effect) of our experience of life. Plus, given the reactive nature of people (both individuals and groups) we will very likely begin to have a marked effect on those with whom we interact. Of course, this effect will vary from person to person depending on their perspective. Some will find these qualities very attractive and thus will look for opportunities to join with us on projects and teams. Others, however, may be confused by someone who is so consistently “purposeful” and thus may mistrust or even recoil from such a person. In fact, their confusion may at first be so unsettling that they may try to make us return to the more familiar, reactive stance that they know so well. The beauty of “becoming the cause,” however, is that we are not invested in their reaction.
This doesn’t mean that we don’t care, it just means that we don’t require them to treat us with respect to know that we are respectable, or to value us to know that we are valuable. Because we have defined ourselves on purpose, we know that we are a person of patience, confidence, compassion, integrity, etc., and however people react to us is good information. If in seeing someone be patient, kind, and confident, they become aware of how they can be impatient, unkind, and less than confident and thus feel uncomfortable, this is not a problem, but an opportunity for them to change. Regardless, however, we are clear about who we are and the qualities we want to bring to life.
The second reason I call this perspective “becoming the cause” is that when we have defined ourselves on purpose and are looking forward to bringing these characteristics to each situation, we can then be in the world, but not of it. This doesn’t mean that we are not engaged in life, far from it. In fact, because we are not needing the world to be a certain way in order to be who we are, we can engage in each situation in a very profound manner. What this means is that because we have decided that our highest purpose is to be who we are, we are not caught up in the petty or problematic aspects of life … and this becomes our cause!
So, one question could be, what cause do we stand for, and to what degree are we willing to make this our highest purpose? Is our banner one of reaction, habit, frustration, and resentment, or are we willing to define who we are on purpose, and practice bringing this “cause” to life? Given that we are always practicing something, maybe the real question is what are we going to practice . . . coming from protection or purpose, the Undermind or Top of the Mind, blaming the cause or becoming the cause? The choice has been, and always will be, ours to make!