When plans don't pan out
It’s perfectly understandable: we like things, we like people, we like ideas, we like our plans! We want them to work out . . . obviously. But what happens when they don't? It happens to us all. It could be for any reason; that’s not so important. What matters is what we do next, how we react. It’s ultimately a test of our flexibility. Do we have a Plan B? Can we adapt? Come up with a different way to view the situation? Can we let go enough to come up with a different solution?
By way of example, here’s something that happened to me that changed how I've come to view things not going my way — or, at least what I had set my sights on. It’s not a deeply personal experience, it’s rather more social or political, in the sense that it was to do with finding solutions and making decisions. I learned a lot from the process and I have, over time, adopted this approach in dealing with anything I have an attachment to that doesn’t go my way. I’ve not been 'perfect', and still get disappointed from time to time, but I don’t take my bat and ball and go home like I sometimes did as a child.
Almost twenty years ago, I was in a meeting of an organisation I was majorly involved in at the time. It was a pivotal time for the group as it faced a looming crisis; its future was looking grim unless we did something to address its declining appeal. A lot was a stake and attendance was dramatically up on regular meetings. People were there because they were worried. We were discussing changing some of the fundamentals of the group’s membership to make it more attractive to the community. The proposal on the table was a radical departure from the past. I and quite a few others felt we needed to do something significant to rescue the organisation. Almost half those present wanted change. People were arguing passionately, and respectfully, for their side of the argument. The thing was we needed two-thirds of those present to agree to the change for it to be legally binding. About half an hour into the to-and-fro, I heard a voice in my head say, “They’re not ready for this. It's okay.” I mentioned it to person next to me and said we need to find another way. I felt so calm, it was uncanny. I had let go so quickly; I was now detached. It was clear we weren’t getting our two-thirds. I also heard that same voice say, “Okay, let’s work out a compromise that gets us somewhere towards saving this organisation.” Within a minute, literally a minute, I was already on to the compromise and was drafting a new proposal, one the meeting could agree to. And it did. Interestingly, within a year, the group reconvened because the plan wasn't achieving the desired result and agreed to the original proposal with all the far-reaching change. Sometimes it takes time. Everyone is at their own pace. And I realised at that moment that it was okay. Even though my proposal won out eventually, I couldn't have known that at the time. I had to be comfortable with loss, with letting go. That's the point.
There are some takeaways from this. Sometimes, we don’t get what we want; we may never get it. In hindsight, it can turn out it wasn't what was best for us (or the others involved in the plan or idea). Other times, we have to try something different. In that particular meeting, I learned to be flexible, to let go of a preferred proposal, and to make a quick decision. It helped that I’d done affinity group/non-violent direct action group training back in the 1980s and part of that training was learning how to make quick decisions in a small group when the need was pressing — decisions that we had to make in under three minutes. Consensus never felt so alive and juicy! That has stayed with me ever since.
So, I’ve gotten very used to rolling with the surprises, even shocks. I don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the 'failure' of something — aside from learning from it: what didn’t work and what could have been done to make it work better. I always want to know that, if I can. Ultimately, dwelling too much, mulling over what could have been is a waste of time. I could wallow in what could have been, but it won’t get me out of the pickle. Don’t get me wrong, I do allow myself to feel the loss, but mostly only a few minutes, tops. It is an acknowledgment the plan or proposal was worth something to me; that I wanted it to come off. Emotion is good, feel it. It is not uncool to express those feelings, even if only to yourself.
After those few minutes, I’m on to what to do about the disappointment. I don’t allow myself to go down with the punch, so to speak. After all, it’s just an idea. (I’m not talking about people so much, although it can apply to people we are intimately involved with!) The ego gets so attached, of course; it wants to be nurtured and coddled and satisfied at all times. So, yes, that is the big stumbling block. Which I feel can best be managed by not attaching myself to the plan in the first place. I’ve learned that true power in such a situation only ever comes when I'm prepared to sit back and let go of the result, knowing full well I may have to change course. It might be “my great idea”, but it may not be anyone else’s. I may get my way eventually, it's true, but I must always be prepared to move on at a moment’s notice if I don’t.
So, some tips to help us let go
Challenge our beliefs and perceptions: that way we’re more able to adapt to changing circumstances and adopt new ideas
Question everything, including systems, rules, laws, structures: that way we’re less rigid and more able to drop things that don’t work or aren’t supported
Observe things simply, much as a child does: watch how quickly children change their minds, how quickly they can adapt
Take time out to contemplate, especially in nature: that way we can get some distance from the problem or issue. And nature is very forgiving and calming. And it doesn’t yell back!
Listen attentively and respectfully to others, seriously considering their points of view: it’ll encourage respect. Changing our minds is often easier in such a climate, minus the us-and-them.
RELATED AND TIMELY
The 7:7 activation
Thursday July 7, 2022 is the next portal day for focusing on what we want to see this year. It seems to be getting a bit more attention this year, so it might be a golden opportunity to activate some more. It’s a 20, 7 day and quite balanced. And it means yet more awakening (when will it stop? hint: not any time soon!). It means doing it while going internal, spending time in contemplation and meditation. So, journeying within and awakening more at the same time; going to that quiet space and unearthing even more truths about ourselves and the world around us. Time to be quiet, to reflect, ponder. Sit or walk by or float on water, if you can.
As with each of these portal days, the focus is on what you want to have happen for yourself, those close to you, your community, your country, the world, the Earth. Anytime will do, though to balance the 7 energy, choose 2am or 2pm; or to enhance the 7 energy choose 7am or 7pm, wherever you are in the world. As best you can, ground yourself by having your bare feet on the earth. Hopefully, it’s warm and dry where you are! Remember, eyes open, be clear with your intent, with what you want.
TL,DR*: In dealing with an idea or a plan that didn't pan out, not being so attached to our cherished 'great idea' helps us recover and come up with an even better idea or plan, hopefully one that has more success for you and those around you.
* Too Long, Didn't Read
PHOTO CASSIDY DICKENS