This week, I have felt particularly aware of shortcomings. I noticed the ways in which what I expected of myself and what I believe others expected of me was not being met. I then acknowledged that I have had many changes occurring all at once. While facing them I notice this belief that “I should be able to hold my many transitions and everything I usually do, and I should be able to hold it all well,” as if the transitions aren’t even happening! This is the expectation of business as usual. I notice this as a theme: Climate change, the expectation is keep paying for gas and go to work: business as usual. Loss of a loved one, the expectation is to return to work quickly, business as usual. Relationship struggles or Questioning who we are, expectation is to carry on being responsible regardless, business as usual. As a society, we tend to focus on prosperity, economic growth, success. These are not bad things in and of themselves, though they do narrow us and thus contribute to neglecting our wider human nature.
Joanna Macy, author and environmental activist and Buddhist, speaks of Business as Usual in a way that assumes there is little we need to change about the way we live. And this contributes to what she terms the Great Unraveling. Meanwhile, holding both business as usual and the great unraveling, allows a new and creative response to emerge, what she calls The Great Turning. The Great Turning is seen as humans sit in transition, for example the transition of an industrial and economically focused society toward a life sustaining one, committed to healing and recovery of Self and the world we are a part of.
If we practice business as usual or great unraveling thinking, we will know if it’s working for us based on how we feel in the doing of it, and if it isn’t feeling right, this is feedback for what could potentially emerge as a new way of being.
This week I watched my business as usual practice, my unraveling practice and despite how miserable I felt and the sense of failure that crept in, the feedback is rich and helpful.
There are 5 major stressors that contribute to changes in life: Death, Divorce, Job Change, Moving, Illness. Most recently, I have had experienced half of these things happening simultaneously. And I have felt the call of Business as Usual. And it didn’t work. I felt awful. It seemed like there was nothing I can do to stop the unraveling that came. It was out of my hands. I didn’t have the capacity to hold it all. Who I thought I was, and how I wished to portray myself, quickly revealed itself to be inaccurate. The truth is: I goofed this week, silly goofs, like sending out the wrong new address to friends, thus sending them to travel all over the city; I showed up tired, frantic, and careless at times; sometimes I had difficulty moving or being unable to articulate myself well; I kept finding myself late to meetings, and my usual self-care practices just weren’t cutting it. The Feedback: when I try to do business as usual in the face of big transitions, it doesn’t feel good. I need to slow down and acknowledge the changes in my life.
Transitions need reflection time. Time to build an understanding and grow. Transitions invite us to find a new balance in times when the old way of being are teetering. Self-generated ceremony, community, nature, story-telling, help us create space in these times of change and show us a new way. Create time for reflection in times of transition, to change the business as usual thinking into something life-sustaining and healing, check out Oaks Counsel’s programs and offerings!