Four Steps to Turn your Past into Your Future
We are on an ever-evolving pathway of growth, and understanding the world around us, and our purpose in it. Some have settled into a comfort zone of “I know what I know and am happy and content with that.” This may give a sense of stability and security, thinking things will stay the same and the future is more predictable. Unfortunately, many things outside of our control will flip that idea on its head. Natural disasters, disease, and war can pull the rug out from right under our feet. So how can we build resiliency into our lives?
1. EXPLORE NEW IDEAS AND BELIEFS
Most of us would have grown up in a home that had a particular set of beliefs that were passed from parents to children. The culture, and environment in which you live also play a large part. Beliefs and values and not the same, but they do overlap at times. What is valued in one culture may not necessarily be appreciated in another. Examples of these systems can be capitalism, socialism, ubuntu, or some other local system. Do we really understand the positive and negative things these systems bring with them? How they affect our culture and our sense of being and self-worth?
Religion is another system, although it was meant to be a spiritual experience with our Creator God. It has evolved in some places to a structure of hierarchy and power. Instead of being the place of refuge for the vulnerable, it has imposed oppression on them, particularly women and children. Especially when the application of Scripture is interpreted through the laws and not through the grace which was the Creator’s redemptive design for His Creation.
Do we blindly accept everything we were taught, or has life experience led us to doubt certain things, as they no longer make sense? As an example, a seven-day creation does not make scientific sense to me as a geological cartographer. I am happy to change that belief to one of time periods, eras, or epochs. Have life experiences and new scientific discoveries rocked your belief system? We are on a journey of discovery; when you open yourself to let go of an old belief, you can embrace new ideas and thoughts.
2. ENJOY THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE
To build resilience, you must be prepared to spend time learning new things. Is research a chore, something you did at school or college, and when you had finished, you were done? I have met many people like that, they have hardly opened a book since they left school. They only learned the necessary skills to keep a job or find employment. But what if learning was fun, digging deeper into the hard questions of life to find hidden nuggets of wisdom and truth. History repeats itself if the lessons are not learned. The French Revolution was an example when a government system did not heed the people’s voice, and power and corruption were rife. How did Nazism take hold? What did the people in those times believe? Enjoy the learning experience as you delve into other deeply held beliefs, religious, faith, and church systems.
In the light of what we know now, do these things really bring us into alignment with the purposes of our loving and compassionate Creator, whose pathway of redemption was love and sacrifice of self, not others.
In the light of what we know now, do these things really bring us into alignment with the purposes of our loving and compassionate Creator, whose pathway of redemption was love and sacrifice of self, not others. Learning new things can be fun, but your new ideas may not be well received as people around you get uncomfortable with your new truths. This is also part of growing resilience as you learn to live in the face of opposition.
3. CHALLENGE YOURSELF
Building resilience involves challenging yourself, not others. They are just as entitled to their beliefs as you are. Breaking free of the old systems and ways is always hard. Heraclitus said, “the only constant in life is change.” Nobody likes change, but survival often requires us to embrace change and accept what is. My grandfather was a horseman; he never could adapt to the automobile, so he always relied on other people to take him to appointments if he could not walk to them, thereby limiting his experiences.
We are in a digital age now. It is difficult for older people to embrace that this is how life is going to work from now on. Resisting online banking and shopping is not going to make it go away. Learning to use new technology is a challenge, but it is here to stay. Re-read the previous paragraph and take it on board, enjoy the learning experience. Make it part of your daily practice to build new experiences into your everyday life, try ethnic foods, new languages or skills, or even watch movies you never enjoyed before. What new things could you intentionally learn from them?
4. MOVE OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Building resilience means you need to practice what you have learned, which usually means moving out of your comfort zone. Speak the new language you have learned. Interact with people of different beliefs and cultural systems, try and understand their perspectives on life. Visit places you would not usually have. If you are a sports fan, visit an art gallery or a ballet. If you are a culture vulture, see a sports game. How does this make you feel? Are you enjoying this experience or learning something you would not have had the chance to learn before? By moving out of your comfort zone, you are giving your heart, mind, and emotions time to make new neural pathways and expand your capacity to survive more difficult circumstances. You are building resilience muscles just as you would in a gym workout for strength training.
After reading this, you may still decide you want to hold tightly onto your past beliefs and cultural systems, and that is OK. But I have given you the key to open the door to new experiences that will build your resilience muscles for when life moves on and the inevitable changes are forced upon us that we have no control over. There is one core belief that has remained unaltered for me. Our compassionate, unchanging Creator God loves and cares for all that He created and desires to walk in companionship with us to show us the pathway through the changing seasons of life.