This is a subject I have considered in depth over the years, and I’ve come to understand through personal experience that our reactions to every situation, not just challenges, come from our preconceived beliefs about our experience of the world, our emotions, and our thoughts.
However, all these elements of life and what make us human change over time.
A way in which we reacted in the past to a certain situation may not be the same way we react today. Especially if we have been interacting with the world, which most of us do.
In this post I want to talk about the relationship between Order and Chaos.
You can think of your ‘comfort zone’ as Order. It's what you know in life, both internally and externally. Your surroundings. Both externally, and internally.
Now, to evolve and expand your ‘comfort zone’ or area of Order, but to remain in control, you can keep one foot in order, and one foot just outside, into chaos – the unknown.
You will be experiencing more new things, and eventually this increases the perimeter of your ‘known’ area. You can keep doing this, expanding your known territory step by step.
Although, sometimes life doesn’t let you do this. Sometimes quite unexpectedly life picks you up and drops you far away from your comfort zone and you are surrounded by the unknown, the chaos, with no clear path to get back to your known reality.
This could be anything from moving to a new place, or being faced with a major illness. It’s a test, a challenge.
This can be intimidating and scary, however, if you lean into the challenge you can start to absorb all this new and unknown space, and eventually it becomes known territory for you too.
In this way you will have expanded your area of order enormously.
It’s never easy being faced with challenges but if you remember that once you’ve gone through it you will have learnt so much, you will have experienced hard times which will make you stronger, then you can allow yourself to be strong and to face the challenge before you.
We react from within our ‘known’ reality, but this isn’t reality in its entirety, so we act and react from a reality which does not represent true reality.
There are so many factors which come into play when we are faced with challenge; fear, our intuition, our pre-conceived beliefs and memories, and our perceptions of life and the world around us.
We each act or react according to our own life experience and what it has taught us before. It’s unique. So, no one will react in quite the same way as another person in the same situation.
There is a classic example of being faced with a hungry lion; would you stay and fight, or would you run?
This example is referring to our ‘fight or flight response system’. When we are exposed to acute stress, the hungry lion, our body reacts and floods the body and brain with hormones to encourage action.
Now, today not many of us are faced with lions on a regular basis, but this system in the body remains the same. We experience many stressful situations in life, and we react to them.
But have you ever stopped to think about how you react in stressful and challenging times? And do the ways you react serve you?
There is a quote by Martin Luther King Jr -
‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moment of comfort & convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge & controversy.’
How we act when things get tough shows our character.
But we can go deeper than that, and say that when we react to a difficult situation, it may not reflect our entire being, past present or future.
We do have the choice, however unconsciously, to act in many different ways throughout our lives. And we usually do. We may not act in the same ways when we are 5 years old to when we are 20, or 45, or 60 – we are constantly changing and re-learning, gaining more experience.
However, in every new situation we usually then try to predict what will happen from our past experience and what we believe to be true.
But what if we could see the world with fresh eyes in every moment. Within each challenge, even if we’ve experienced the same or similar experience before?
If we stop predicting and instead put trust in change, the we can basically re-wire our thoughts as to what was true about ourselves, and change our behaviour patterns. We could end up reacting differently when faced with somewhat known challenges.
But let’s face it, no situation is ever exactly the same as a previous one, however similar they may appear, so we must remember not to predict outcomes in situations.
But if you take your time, and work on acting rather than re-acting, then you’ll soon find yourself feeling and acting with strength and moving from your place of power.
Order and chaos are the two states of life. We experience both and live within both all throughout our lives. Hiding from chaos, staying within the familiar keeps us small, with no room to expand or grow.
Leaning into the chaos of life allows us to see just how big we are and can be.
We can choose to be brave, and challenge our challenges.
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