Reasons to Like Contraction AND Expansion
In episode #4, we introduced three sets of questions that have a remarkable ability to change the way we think. That was before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic.
It turns out that stopping the world as we know it has provided an incredible opportunity for many of us to practice these questions, letting go of what is outside of our control and seizing that which remains.
With my deepest condolences to all who have lost loved ones to this horrific disease, those who struggled and overcame it, and immense gratitude to those who have stepped up in ways none of us could imagine just months ago, I aim to share how this experience has added insights and tools to my personal arsenal for making change suck less. I hope these will help you as well.
Insight #1: Contraction and expansion are both necessary and natural occurrences in our universe
How this is playing out for many of us: At this time of economic instability (to say the least), most of us are working to find every possible opportunity to shave the cost of living. At the same time, I am acutely aware that what we focus on is what we manifest.
So how do we square this focus on minimizing our costs with desires and intentions to amass financial abundance? I believe it is by understanding – and embracing – the rhythms of contraction and expansion in nature …and keeping the larger vision front and center. (Remember the adage “go slow in order to go fast?”)
The truth is that the vast majority of us will survive the contraction and make it to the expansion that awaits on the other side. The question becomes, how can we weather this journey and raise the odds of making it to what is next — while minimizing the pain?
Aside from the obvious can’ts, don’ts and musts that we are all experiencing — where in this contraction can we let down our guard and find the spaces and opportunities to cherish, relish and simply enjoy? Where we can drop the fierce resistance and stalwart strength we have been relying on to carry us through from moment to moment? The small, precious moments in which we can experience the magnificence of expansion in the moment? Where we are simultaneously shrinking and creating / building?
For me, it looks like this.
- Refinancing my mortgage to enhance cash flow
- Eliminating those pesky little automatic monthly charges we sign up for in the dead of night and promptly forget about
- Getting creative – and activating my passion for environmental sustainability – by pulling various stray items in my pantry and figuring out how to make meals out of them (for more on that, you simply MUST check in with @thescrappychefny on IG).
- Investing in professional development to learn new skills and upgrade my certification in my chosen field
- Enriching my personal life by connecting with family and friends through individual and group Zoom calls
- Practicing my active and open listening skills by debating current topics with my “grown and flown and now back home” young adult children whose political views are very different from my own!
Insight #2: Embracing the contraction defangs our fear
There is no more obvious example of contraction and expansion at work than in childbirth – literal or figurative.
Sheila Hay, author of Ecstatic Birth, explains that when we hit a rough patch on the road to our desires, that’s a contractive moment. Our natural tendency is to numb them, to avoid them at all cost. But, she points out, contractions are an important part of labor – with each one, our body opens a little more to lead to birth. The more we resist these contractions, the more painful they are and the more fear we kick up. It can become a downward spiral. Rather, she coaches, surrender to the contraction in favor of what we know is on the other side.
Here’s what that looks like for me:
- As I got into retooling my finances, looking for places to cut back, it started to feel like a game. With each item I eliminated or reduced, I got a hit of immediate satisfaction, prompting me to look for more. It’s kind of like weeding. I dare you to limit yourself to only the first five weeds you spot!
- Same for the culinary adventures: The more I figured out how to use stuff that had been lying around in the pantry, the more creative and virtuous I felt. As if the universe were giving me a pat on the back.
When we focus our attention on those moments of joy and expansion in the midst of the rest of it, even for a few moments every day, we disempower the struggle and give strength to the beauty and growth instead. It really is about being in the moment …not fighting it.
Check out earlier episodes in our Make Change Suck Less series:
- Episode #1: What I Learned About Change From a Very Weird Plant on My Deck
- Episode #2: Resist Wisely… It Requires an Incalculable Amount of Energy!
- Episode #3: What If?
- Episode #4: What Does It Take to Dig a New Groove?
Stay tuned to learn more about our new program: The 3 Essential Practices to Make Change Suck Less: Mindset, Resilience, Identity (MRI). And check out our peer coaching program for new and emerging leaders called YOU LEAD. We’ll be digging into all kinds of ways to make change suck less by activating your voice, your impact.
Tracy Benson, Founder and CEO, On the Same Page, LLC, provides executive coaching to senior leaders and their teams in Fortune 500 companies across industries, including: healthcare, pharma, energy, technology, consumer goods, manufacturing, hospitality, defense and financial.