Yesterday I talked about Experience, the first phase in the process of change. Today, I wanted to share about Understanding, which is the second phase. This is the phase when we first notice something different, a situation or encounter catches our attention.
In some situations, the understanding comes quickly. But until you’ve learned to trust in the process, that is rare. Normally, we sense that there is something important about what just happened, though we have no clue what. We may say something like, “Well, that was weird.” Or perhaps, “What do you think that was all about.” Then we simply go back to doing whatever it was that we were doing.
Yet, our mind continues to chew on the event. Something is there…we know it. If only we could find it. We shrug our shoulders and continue on. Until something else happens that makes us remember, or we decide to tell someone else about what happened, perhaps see what they think about it. Still, we don’t give it the attention it deserves.
Here’s what I’m trying to say. When you find yourself going through a period like this, remember it! Maybe you can’t put your full attention on it because the time or the environment isn’t right. You might be in the middle of a sales presentation, or sitting in a Parent-Teacher conference. That’s fine. Just do everything you can to remember what just happened.
Remember what you were doing right before your mind became attentive to the situation. Remember how you felt, just before you noticed it, and right after you noticed it. Remember who else was there, where you were, exactly what was done or said. Replay it in your memory a few times.
Now, here’s the important part. You know that little voice in your head? The one that never shuts up and is always warning you of impending doom? Or telling you not to eat that chocolate doughnut because you said four years ago that you wanted to lose weight? That little voice, it keeps talking because it has nothing to do. It’s bored. So, give it something to do.
Say the following to yourself – silently, so you don’t look like a crazy person. “Okay, mind…you want something to do? You want to protect me and keep me safe? Figure out what this situation means, what I’m supposed to learn from it. Ready? Go.” Then go back to whatever you’re doing.
While you’re busy changing diapers, or cleaning up the mess the dog just made, or making dinner for your significant other, don’t be surprised if the answer drops from the sky, right into your lap. Sometimes it arrives through an epiphany, a revelation of your own thoughts. One moment you don’t know what it means, and the next, it couldn’t be more clear.
And sometimes it arrives through external sources. You receive an email that causes you to recall the event. Or someone says something to you, completely unaware of what happened, and you understand. This happens all the time. The problem is, we don’t understand or look for these occurrences, or we put it off to ‘dumb luck’ or ‘random coincidence’. But it’s not.
You see, if God was the one who created the situation, as His way of guiding you towards the point of fulfilling your purpose, then don’t you think He would also supply the instruction manual on what to do with what He gave you?
Of course He will! The only issue is, God is a lot like Ikea. He’ll give you all the parts, and He’ll give you all the tools. But the instruction manual is a bit, shall we say foreign? He leaves it up to you to figure out how everything goes together. And, from what I’ve experienced over the years, just like Ikea, there’s always one little part that seems to be missing. But, when you find it, everything fits.
That’s why I want you to understand how important EVERY event in your life is. Each moment fits somewhere. Each piece has its place. To quote Dan Millman in his book Way of the Peaceful Warrior, “There are no ordinary moments.”