2020 has been a year of extraordinary transformation, individually and collectively. A grand playground for self-acceptance and growing, but also for grieving, and for letting go of expectations.
The archetype of transformation fascinated me for a long time. I love watching cooking shows where the alchemical transmutation from separate ingredients into a unified delicious dish takes 15 minutes or so; or those shows where one’s house is superbly transformed into a masterpiece in the span of one viewing hour.
But why is it that we desire transformation– which we perceive as positive change (getting healthier, better, leaner, stronger) and yet, we resist it?
Even in yoga, where stretching is as literal as it gets, I notice how I repeat a mini-journey of letting go of resistance— “why does this pose feel so hard? | today is not a good day for yoga | the teacher is not helping| everyone is at ease, but me | it may work, but it’s too painful | OK, OK maybe I can do it– Ahhh—am so glad I pushed a little further today” and then, namaste and tears of gratitude.
Every single time, it’s the same cycle of stretching, resisting, grieving, letting go, letting come and then– the sigh of relief.
As I experience it, transformation (or change) is a process of continuous stretching beyond one’s comfort zone. That space, in between the letting go of the old, and the embracing of the unknown new, is particularly painful to experience. This year, I am focused on being present in that in between, with intentional awareness.
Looking back, it’s no surprise that I have been involved with transformation in the past few years since we launched Mereltä, a hair care brand that supports consumers in their own transformation journey. Early on, when we were building the brand, I recognized the deep yearning for transformation in those who experienced hair loss. I deeply resonated with a brand that was able to facilitate that transformation.
From male and female consumers of various ethnicity, I heard numerous heartbreaking life stories about hair loss. More than about hair, these were stories about the loss of dreams, of a certain perceived identity, the loss of creativity, of opportunities, of health or even of a way of life. The people sharing their stories wished for a transformation that allowed them to feel like their true self.
On the opposite spectrum, I heard a story about the difficulty of adjusting to the happiness of having one’s wish come true.
The consumer, a 49-year-old married woman, shared that while she truly wanted the thick hair of her youth, now that she did have it, she found it difficult to readjust her attitude. She explained that she used to feel like a victim and that it had worked for her and helped her get what she wanted. Now, that she had lovely and beautiful hair again, she found it difficult to let go of the old ways. She told me that she did not want to use our scalp treatment anymore because, while it resolved her hair issues, it also created a difficult emotional adjustment.
I am learning also that moving too fast through the process of change, either out of fear, or impatience, creates a counter reaction, a strong resistance to change.
I see this with the Mereltä consumers who have gotten great hair results in their first few months of use, which is extremely fast. It gives them the impression that the process of change happens fast, seamlessly or easily. It rarely does.
I see it in my own yoga practice when I think that I got it, and then, of course, I didn’t, and I want to give up. I remind myself that it’s not about getting it, but about practicing every day without expectations.
This perception shift is truly the transformation I am enjoying.
My Tango teacher used to say: “Do not rush. Contain the energy when you dance, focus it, do not let it explode all over the dance floor.” Great advice in business and in life. As we find our new footing in 2020, we may choose to take small steps, give ourselves the time to process the changes, and then take another step.
And then keep moving. Or dancing.
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