Monday, November 7, 2011

Why is change so difficult?

While traveling last month, I lost my skinny pillow with its soft-worn allergen protective cover, and my whole body is stressing out. The achy results feel debilitating, but even worse, I can't find a replacement pillow or cover.

Sure, there are plenty of pillows in the stores, but there are NO skinny ones, and the allergy covers either crackle or feel like rubber. Since many pillows claim to be hypoallergenic, I could perhaps forgo the cover for a while, but trying to find the right-sized pillow is driving me (all over town as well as) to despair. For some reason fat, firm pillows are all that manufacturers make – or at any rate all that nearby retailers sell. You'd think inexpensive products would perhaps skimp more on the filler, but no, even the $2.99 pillows are WAY too thick.

So why can't I adapt to those big fat fluffy ones? It isn't that I haven't tried, but my body has small proportions. When I put my head atop a towering bolster, the rest of me simply doesn't fit against the bed: my neck is stretched and my shoulder left hanging. Quite literally, my bones are being dislocated by the misalignment.

Habitual years of living one way do build in self-limiting preferences. It's always easier to continue familiar habits than to venture into something effortful for body or mind to learn. When we refuse to keep up with the times, we are choosing to be left unchanged, so adamant refusals to adapt often become self-defeating choices as the world progresses out of our comfort zone.

But forcing conformity to inappropriate standards is even more self-injurious. Whether we are complying with rules that violate our inner values or allowing our bodies to be subjected to abuse, however subtle or unintended, we are setting ourselves up for debilitating stress. And negative stress always takes a toll. We can never become completely fulfilled when part of our energy is diverted from our own ideal.

In a functional world, we'd be guided to recognize the different types of changes and learn to choose appropriately. Change is difficult today because our childhood training focused on external measurements. With no inner scale for judiciously weighing our choices, we fall too readily into social but self-sabotaging behavior.

Without a conscious effort to discern our own ideal response, we react from habit or peer pressure. And so my thoughtful pillow search hangs in the balance – another metaphor for trying to find my uncompromising place in this conformist world.
I wonder... what you think.

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