English Sandy Koop

Adapting to Change ( Part 2 )

A year ago, Rana, one of my ESL students from the Middle East, appeared at my door with a lovely green Money Plant in her hand. After she left, I found the directions on how to care for this exotic plant. I had never raised one before. Watering is always the key. Yes, it needed regular watering. If the leaves started to turn brown, it would die unless it received water immediately. Unfortunately, a few weeks later, I noticed the once lush green foliage was drooping and turning brown.I raced for the watering can and “gave it a drink.”  The poor plant revived. But even now, its dry, brown leaves beg for more water. 

Plants are either green or brown. Green leaves obviously show the plant is thriving, while brown indicates dying.

Grow or Die.

Didn’t the Money Plant like its new surroundings? Was it suffering a plant version of culture shock? Do plants hate change like many people do?

The symbolism between plants and people in reacting to change is strikingly similar. When faced with change in our lives, we, too, either grow or die.

As part one of the CHANGE article shared, we need to accept the things that are not changeable; change the things that are changeable and the wisdom to know the difference. 

(The Serenity Prayer) The key in that prayer is the WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.

What difference does it make any way you might ask? Why do we always have to change?

A wise man adapts himself to circumstances as water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it. Chinese proverb

Have you ever watched an Olympic gymnast as they walk onto the mats for the floor exercises or the vault or the rings? They have practiced years for this moment. They have exercised, eaten healthy food, given up evening social life. They are ready!

Remember Kerri Strug, the teen, who faced the vault knowing she had injured her foot on the previous round of gymnastics? Her coach insisted that she compete in spite of the pain. The audience thought he was an ogre making her endure such pain and perhaps defeat.

 Hesitating, but undauntedly, she began her run down the center of the mats toward the vault. She sprang, vaulted over the leather horse and stuck (didn’t wobble or fall on) the landing.

Cheers reverberated about the gymnasium. Her coach and teammates hugged her and whisked her off for medical treatment.Her victory over her fears and pain, led the Women’s Olympic Gymnastic team 0f 1996 to their first ever team gold medal.

What life lessons this young gymnast learned that day. If she had been taken out of the competition, would she have ever learned to overcome fear and pain?

How glad she was that she didn’t resist the situation, didn’t take the easy way. She adapted to the circumstances even though they were not her first choice. Kerri learned more about life choices that day than gymnastics. You can, too.

If we constantly resist change which is inevitable, we lose some valuable life lessons.

First, if we live a life that reacts to everything that comes our way, we allow ourselves to be dominated by outside circumstances or people. Our freedom to be independent and choose our natural emotions will be lost. We merely wait and see what comes along and then react to the winds of fate. We bounce from wave to wave helplessly without the help of a rudder or sails.

Wouldn’t it better to be prepared for the storms of life and have control over them rather than have them control us?

Second, change brings opportunities to gain experience and learn from mistakes.

If we avoid the challenges change brings, we lose the chance to learn new skills sets, to befriend new people, to master weak areas in our personalities, to perfect new talents and to prove we can bounce back from adversity. Change develops our character to be all that we can be, as the song says.

Last, change perfects our endurance to strive for the highest, to push through pain and disappointment to achieve our goals. Resilience grows strong and tough the more it is tested. Like a battle-scarred general, he has endured the fight and emerged victorious. He is the one who has earned the admiration and praise of the troops. He is resilient!

Do you want to be a hero, like Kerri Strug, or a wimp? That is the question you must answer in your heart of hearts?

Now that you are convinced that adapting to change is vital, let’s talk about how to do it.

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