General Musings

Change Yourself, Not The World

January 18, 2016

Over the past couple of years, I have started to recognise repeating patterns in the challenges facing me and the way that I deal with them. It is as if the Universe is trying to tell me something and I haven’t quite got the message yet!

But I think I am getting there. And it’s no surprise, really, when the Universe is working so hard to give me the opportunity to truly grasp the concept and then start to live it. No matter what guise the lesson appears in, I am finally starting to recognise when my response to it is the same – I know that stomach-churning, headache-inducing, and downright unpleasant sensation that says “you’re obsessing over this, you need to step back and see the bigger picture” all too well now. And it is my hope that in time I will learn the lesson well enough that these very physical reactions are no longer needed as a “wake-up call”.

So what is this lesson? It’s knowing that the only thing you can ever do is change yourself, so why bother trying to change anything else?

I realise that in today’s world, with so many difficult and unpleasant things happening around the globe, this can sound very much like apathy, but I promise you it’s not. I’m not saying that we should never stand up for what is right, protect those who need our help, or pray for a world that is safe and welcoming of everyone. I think we should all do whatever we can to make the world a better place, for ourselves and for our children. But I am beginning to learn that the best way to do this is not to fight against the world, but to change ourselves.

Let me explain…

I have just spent several years putting absolutely everything I had into a cause I felt incredibly passionate about. At the time I thought there was nothing wrong with this – sure, it was having a massive effect on my physical and mental well-being, as well as my home life, but it was all for a good cause, so it must be alright, right?


I was blinded by my passion, ignorant of the detrimental effects it was having on my ability to enact positive change, and over time my responses to the challenges within it grew increasingly tired and defensive. I was unbalanced, pure and simple. Oh, sure, my intentions were the best – I was doing all of this for the benefit of so many, how could that be wrong? Well, it led me to believe the world was simply cruel and unjust, I lived constantly in “fight mode”, and even when I began to glimpse how unbalanced this all was, I couldn’t step away from it because I had too much invested in it. I was more interested in being ‘right’ than I was in being happy.

Thankfully, the Universe provided me with the kick up the butt that I so desperately needed, and I had no choice but to leave that situation. Healing from it has been hard, and is still ongoing if the repeated lessons are anything to go by…

You see, at the end of last year I found myself facing a similar situation where I had to choose between being ‘right’ and being happy. I dreaded it, but actually it came at a time when I was physically very sick and the choice became a no-brainer. Instead of months of pain and deliberation, I chose not to fight a situation that would simply bring more pain and heartbreak, and the resulting feeling of freedom was incredible.

And I thought I had finally learned my lesson. Ha, how little I know myself sometimes! This past week I have faced two battles – one with my health and one with work. Both have upset me greatly, as I have felt backed into a corner where I am both helpless and alone. In each situation my repeated mantra has been “but it isn’t fair”, and it isn’t. But what I am slowly beginning to learn is that life is very often unfair and I cannot fight that alone. Nobody can.

But what we can do is turn inwards, find that part of us that feels unjustly done by, and heal ourselves. We can choose to move away from that which hurts us and focus instead on that which fills us with hope, joy, and peace.

Again, this does not mean turning away from injustice, what it means is refusing to add further pain or fear to the mix. The world already has plenty of that, what it needs is love and acceptance. And we cannot give that to anybody else without first giving it to ourselves.

And herein lies the beauty of this lesson – by changing ourselves we automatically change the world.

I am still only just starting to get my head around this one. It feels totally illogical to turn away from a battle for justice. But what I am learning is that sometimes the battle is won in different ways. For example, this past week I spent two days utterly miserable because of a situation at work. Did my misery change the situation? No. If anything it simply added to a situation that was miserable enough already. The situation is unlikely to change, walking around feeling sorry for myself about it only hurts me in the end. The reality is that this is a battle which is not worth fighting.

But what happens if, instead of focusing on the “unfairness” of the situation, I simply accepted this is the way things are and chose to be happy, truly happy, regardless. What if, instead of ‘reacting’ to every situation I chose to ’embrace’ it all. Sure, the situation is still the same, but I’d be happy. And a happy worker makes for a happy working environment!

This isn’t a new concept. I’m sure you’ve all read about someone who has chosen to live their life with gratitude, peace and happiness, no matter the circumstances surrounding them. And aren’t they always the most inspirational of stories. Don’t we always wish we could be more like them, or that there were more people like them in the world? Well, let’s do it, let’s change ourselves and see what happens.

As I write this I cannot help but think about all the atrocities that are happening around the world today. I cannot help but remember that there is so much fear, pain, and anger out there, and that life is, for so many, difficult beyond comprehension. But how much of that has developed as a result of somebody, somewhere, making a decision to try and “change the world”? And yet still we continue making the exact same decisions.

Isn’t it time we tried something new?

I am linking this post up with #sharethejoy over at The Joy Chaser today, because the lessons and realisations I have mentioned in this post have certainly turned my heart and mind away from a path of pain and towards a path of joy. If you’ve never seen #sharethejoy, do go over and have a look, it is a wonderful blog linky open to anyone and everyone who wishes to join in.

It’s Award Season for Parent Bloggers and this year I’m asking for your support.

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If you like what you see, please do consider nominating Spirit Kid Network in the “Fresh Voice” category in the BiBs and “Best New Blog” in the MADs by clicking on the links below. Thanks.

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  • Reply
    Leila (A Polyglot Mum)
    January 18, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    A beautifully written blog! Well done and well done for recognising that you are important in all of the universes’ grand scheme of things. I am not liking that you have had so much to contend with but your positive approach gives me hope that I can do the same for myself, especially this year. Being Iranian, I also thank you for quoting Rumi. By far, my most favourite poet. xx #SharetheJoy

    • Reply
      Amanda Shortman
      January 21, 2016 at 12:57 pm

      Hi Leila, thank you so much for popping over and for your very kind words! I do so hope that this year brings you opportunities to learn and grow in whatever way you wish 🙂 I truly believe that if you have the intention (which it sounds like you have) then you’ll do it!!

      I must admit, Rumi is a poet I am only just starting to learn about and appreciate, but I saw that quotation randomly pop up somewhere on a very hard day and it was just what I needed to hear! Isn’t it great how the Universe provides the inspiration you need no matter how low you’re feeling? xx

  • Reply
    Alice @ The Filling Glass
    January 18, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    I love this. I know how I have reacted badly to some events in my life for far too long feeling that I have been wronged, it is much better to, as you say, embrace these things. I also agree we can’t change anything unless we are happy – we have to be content in ourselves, and then we can led the way.

    • Reply
      Amanda Shortman
      January 21, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      Hi Alice, thank you for popping by. I think one of life’s biggest lessons is learning to see how our own reactions to things affect the outcome – yes, people treat us horribly sometimes and it is only natural to want to respond to that, but often it leads us to more pain in the long run. Not an easy lesson at all, is it? xx

  • Reply
    Michelle Pannell
    January 18, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    Loads of good common sense in this post and I think we approach the subject from different places but I am with you that it is worth choosing the path of peace to ensure wellness. Mich x

    • Reply
      Amanda Shortman
      January 21, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      Thanks for dropping over Mich, this is what I love most about the blogging community – we can come at something from completely different places and yet still find a common thread 🙂 Isn’t that wonderful! xx

  • Reply
    January 18, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    A lovely post Amanda. I remember years ago being told that if you can’t change a situation then change the way you view that situation. Thinking that way has helped me. x

    • Reply
      Amanda Shortman
      January 21, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      Thanks for popping by Simone, so lovely to see you here in my new online home 🙂 How wonderful that someone had the wisdom to share that with you, what a difference shared ideas can make! I’m glad it has helped you through the years xx

  • Reply
    Bod for tea
    January 20, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Love this post Amanda and I’m so pleased that you’re finding peace through acceptance. The quotes you’ve used are so wise. I’ve chosen the word ACCEPT as my word for 2016 in my home life for many of the reasons you’ve said – accepting what I can’t change and sitting with that feeling is hard but I’m working on it! Thanks for linking up at #sharethejoy and for your kind words x

    • Reply
      Bod for tea
      January 20, 2016 at 10:25 pm

      Opps Squarespace seems to have used an old twitter name for me! It’s Michelle from The Joy Chaser in case you were wondering 🙂

      • Reply
        Amanda Shortman
        January 21, 2016 at 12:46 pm

        Hehe thanks for popping over Michelle – I recognised the name from your old blog, but it’s great to let other readers know who you are 🙂

        Thank you for your lovely words of support and encouragement (and for providing such a wonderfully inspirational linky!) Acceptance is such a difficult thing to achieve at times, especially if we feel we "should" accept something but our hearts say "no". But I have found that once you find the spark for acceptance in any single circumstance it seems to "flip a switch" and acceptance comes in the blink of an eye. So I think the process of getting there is the hardest part, but so worth it, no matter how long it takes xx

  • Reply
    Kelly Martin
    January 25, 2016 at 10:13 am

    So glad you are gaining so much from this experience Amanda. It takes courage to let go of being right and letting the relief come from letting others be right instead. So much learning right now. Acceptance is a big deal and when we can accept ‘what is’ life flows much more easily. Tweeted this out (btw, you may want to make your share button a bit more noticeable because I could not find it immediately).

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