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Monday, October 4,2021

Becoming Nimble at Dealing with Ever–Changing Plans

By Brigitte Lang  

“Just because life is full of craziness doesn’t mean you must go crazy. You can experience outer chaos and still find inner peace. Nothing even needs to change outside of you for you to find calm inside of you. This inner calm is available at all times. Just breathe.”

– Karen Salmansohn

With the world in so much flux these days, many of us are noticing how difficult it can be to deal with ever-changing plans. It’s always been a challenge, but as with so many things, it’s become an in-yourface challenge these days.

Some of us really struggle when plans are always changing – it can be frustrating, and feel like there’s no solid ground under our feet. Other people seem to love having no solid plans, but their challenge is often they can’t seem to commit to anything regular, don’t want to be tied down and often have difficulty focusing.

Today I’m talking to those of us who struggle with rapidly changing plans. What if we could learn to be nimble, flexible and resilient when plans are always changing? What if we could find focus in the middle of the chaos, and calm in the middle of the storm?

When someone changes plans on us, we can (and often will) get frustrated with them for changing things up on us at the last minute. And while we can talk with them about it if it becomes an ongoing problem, sometimes changes are unavoidable. What if, instead, we embraced the change as a training opportunity to get better at being flexible, nimble and resilient with change? We could then find gratitude for this training opportunity. Thank the person, and then turn toward our own frustration or resistance to change, as a way to grow in this area.

The training we can do, when presented with the opportunity of a change in plans, can simply be to remember to be present.

When we’re frustrated with changes, it’s because we are fixated on what we expected things to be, on what is no longer true. What if we focused instead on what is right in front of us, the reality on the ground? Unpredictable, unplanned, but still breathtakingly wondrous.

When a change in plans presents itself, we often will feel a tug of uncertainty at our hearts. It’s the feeling of the rug being yanked from under us – yikes, things are not stable! So we feel a moment of fear. That can be turned into the thought: “Why do they always have to change things up on me, why can’t we just stick to plans, why can’t I just have one day of peace?” And so on, until we’ve turned a momentary feeling of uncertainty into a huge deal.

What if instead we could feel the sensation of uncertainty in our bodies, and simply turn our attention on it and be with it? What if we could practice relaxing with the uncertainty? It doesn’t have to be turned into a frustrating narrative (though that might still happen), but could simply be a direct experience of change.

With a lot of changes, we can have difficulty finding focus. It’s chaotic! I can’t focus! Actually, we can find focus, but it can take some practice. The practice is simply this: pause to consider what you’d like to focus on. If you’re feeling chaotic, turn toward the sensation of that, and relax with it. Then create the space to focus, if possible – if you don’t have the time, you can simply do it when the space is available. But a lot of people actually have the time; they just don’t allow themselves to focus because they’re feeling chaotic.

That said, when we get too attached to our structures, we can get frustrated when things get messy. Maybe someone sprung something on us. Maybe something unexpected came up. Maybe we don’t stick to the structure because we’re tired, and things get sidetracked. When these things happen, it feels like everything has fallen apart.

The practice can simply be to hold the structures with as much discipline as we can, but without attachment. That means hold to them as much as we’re able to, but then when things change, practice flow.

Could you find joy in the middle of the storm? Things can feel very stormy – and for a lot of people, that can bring anxiety and frustration. But what if we can learn to open up to the storm, to embrace it? In my life, I have come to feel awe at the powerful beauty of storms, to delight in their swirls and unpredictability, to see the art in the middle of the gale. When I see this in an actual storm, it reminds me to practice seeing this in the chaos of my daily life.


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