“I have always done it this way”. Haven’t we all said that? I know I have. I have made that statement hundreds of times. In many ways and for many years, it was my default response. “I have always done it this way” was my “go to” reply when I was asked to do something differently or when I was asked to do something that I didn’t really want to do. In fact, it was my favorite retort when people asked me to consider news ideas, modify my behavior or questioned my views. “I have always done it this way” was my way of dodging conversations, avoiding conflict or escaping any responsibility to think critically about how I was living and navigating in the world. Trust me, it was an effective way to end any conversation and I used the statement indiscriminately, and yes, aggressively when I had no desire to change, think or engage. “I have always done it this way” was my tried-and-true strategy to be left alone. And I thought that my commitment to that 6 word phrase and that 6 word mentality served me well, at least that is what I believed.
But life has a wonderful way of showing us that our failure or inability to remain open to new ideas, different cultures, emerging paradigms, innovative solutions will limit us. Yes, life has a way of teaching us that nothing good results from a closed mind, a closed heart or a close hand. Nothing!! In fact, anything closed off, closed out, closed up or closed in eventually withers and dies. Just think about it. Careers, businesses, friendships, religions, relationships, plants, pets or anything important to us dies without an consistent inflow of fresh air, a steady influx of new energy, an occasional introduction of new ways of thinking or the thoughtful implementation of new behaviors. Everything, and I mean everything, needs a constant supply of physical, spiritual and emotional oxygen to survive. Everything needs to be nurtured and challenged or it loses its vitality, vibrancy and its value.
Yes, I have learned that anything denied nourishment, engagement, growth or expression eventually dies. Let’s face it – our health deteriorates when it is neglected, careers die when they are not managed, communities crumble with they are abandoned, dreams are unrealized with they are not constantly pursued, and love dies when it is not cultivated. Death is inevitable because desertion and demise go hand in hand. Resistance and regression are companions. Stifling and stopping are connected. Avoidance and apathy are attached. And, ignorance and inertia are always somehow linked, aren’t they? The truth is, having a closed mind, closed heart and a closed hand is a lethal combination; it is a recipe for disaster, destruction, disappointment, detachment and despair.
So how do we stay open? How do we remember that we don’t know it all? How do we stay connected to each other in the midst of our busy lives and competing demands? How do we stay receptive to new ideas and to the moving of the spirit? How do we consider different cultures, expose ourselves to diverse communities and listen to a variety of perspectives? How do we offer our services and support for the benefit of humanity? How do we abandon our arrogance and admit our ignorance long enough so that we can listen, laugh, learn and love?
I have learned that “I have always done it this way” is a trap that leaves little room for evolution, transformation, self-analysis and healing. Just my thoughts of course.
I would love to hear from you. How do you remain open so you don’t miss out on life, love, learning and living? Something to pause, ponder and pray about, right? I look forward to hearing from you.