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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Ripley-Evans

Consciously Adapting (Part 1)

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

There can be no doubt that there is and has been so much change around us during the past year, from the way we learn and shop to the way we work and engage socially. What is important to bear in mind is that all the significant changes have impacted how we connect and engage with people. It may be the actual type of engagement (for example face to face meetings now being digital), or it may be time, intensity and consistency of our engagements (parents who used to see their children in the morning and evenings, now seeing them ALL day, or colleagues who worked very closely, not not seeing each other at all except for the digital meetings).

Now, many of us are VERY aware of how our engagements have changed, and sometimes this is a welcome change and other times the complete opposite. But, how often do we take stock of how our expectations and needs of those we engage with have also changed? Knowing that something is different is one thing, but being aware of how this impacts things and what we may need to do to still achieve what we want or need is another thing.

I would like to share an example of a pilot flying through turbulence to help demonstrate the importance of consciously (and actively) adapting to what’s in front of us, and how the actions or inaction that we take can impact our lives.

Consider for a moment that you are a pilot. You have planned a flight to a specific location. You have done all the necessary preparations and planning. Your plane is in perfect working order, your flight plan is complete and you feel comfortable to begin. And so you do. In the beginning the flight goes smoothly and autopilot is engaged and you sit back and relax to some degree. Unfortunately, some challenging weather has developed that was not expected and this is creating significant turbulence. Now, as the pilot you have a few options that you can choose from in order to react or respond to the situation that I explore below.

{Please note that the terms I refer to below are not Google-able words as I have concocted them for the purpose of this article, so please keep that in mind and I hope I saved you some time} .

Photo by Taiki Ishikawa on Unsplash

  • Option 1: You leave the plane on autopilot as you engage with the passengers, trying to reassure them that everything is ok (“Actively-Avoidant Denialism” - pretending the problem is not going to affect you, or is not really even a problem - what problem? - and the destination is just ahead).

  • Option 2: You return to the cockpit, see the challenging weather ahead, but keep the plane on autopilot, because after all, you had planned to follow that route, you did the hard work and so the plane must do the work now (“Stubbornly-Avoidant Denialism” - aware of the problem, but refusing to accept that: 1 - something needs to be done, 2 - I can do something, and 3 - actions (or inaction) have consequences). This is not to be mistaken for “Passive Acceptism” where one is aware of the challenges ahead but remains passive, takes no actions and ‘rides it out’ because at the end of the day, it “is what it is”.

  • Option 3: You are aware of the weather challenges, turn autopilot off and remain determined to reach your destination according to the pre-planned route (“Stubbornly-Active Denialism” - Similar to points 1 & 2 of Stubbornly-Avoidant Denialism, except there is clear action taken to try to get to the destination via the exact route planned, not listening to the warnings and danger signs, often leading to damage or disaster).

  • Option 4: You assess the difficult weather and the options available at the time to determine whether there is a new, safer route to reach the destination or whether a new destination needs to be identified and planned for (“Active Acceptism” - being consciously active in making informed decisions and implementing actions to achieve the revised desired outcomes).

Photo by Charles Postiaux on Unsplash

The above should hopefully make sense in terms of flying a plane, but life in general and our relationships in particular are no different. If we remain on autopilot in our own lives, we run the risk of getting caught in unnecessary ’turbulence’, that we can often find ourselves circling back to time and time again. Shifting our mindset from “passive-acceptism” or any of the “denialisms” towards one more aligned to “active-acceptisim” shifts the control back into our own hands. Not only are we able to feel and exert a greater sense of purposeful control over how we live our lives, but it also helps us gain clarity and insight into how we are living and why we are or have chosen the various “destinations’ that we are heading towards.

In my next article (part 2) I will offer some practical considerations that can greatly assist you in assessing, clarifying and planning your way through, or around the turbulence in your life. If you would like to get in touch to explore this topic further, please feel free to book a free consultation or an appointment by clicking here.

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