One of my favorite lessons from the permaculture design course I completed last year was to arrive at solutions rather than impose them.
Truth be told, most of us march around imposing ourselves onto others all the time. Guilty as charged. We prescribe our beliefs, opinions, values, assumptions and agendas onto the world – often in the innocent and well-intentioned name of saving it, of course.
But when we force a solution onto a problem it usually backfires.
The greatest teacher of this lesson is nature, where change happens slowly, evolving over a period of time to avoid upsetting the overall balance of the system. Humans aren’t all that different. When change happens abruptly, we don’t adjust well.
Earlier this week, I announced my intention to let go of a project in order to make space for something else. But my announcement of that decision didn’t go well.
Anyone who has ever attempted to let go of something can probably relate to this. Those who were impacted by my decision didn’t agree with it, and it’s not surprising since most of us don’t like change.
Change always has consequences, and it usually forces other changes to occur as well.
Because no one else stepped up to assume the role I wanted to let go of, I was faced with yet another decision: Will I impose my solution onto the group, or will I arrive at a different solution over time?
Call it caving. Call it people-pleasing. Call it what you will.
But the truth remains that sometimes our best intentions don’t go exactly as planned. We adjust, roll with, modify, and sometimes press the pause button.
That’s arriving rather than imposing. It’s taking a step back to evaluate the best way to move forward, and sometimes that means looking for other ways to achieve our goals, or waiting for a better time.
In this case, a slower approach to change made more sense.
While I know that holding onto this responsibility will delay the advancement of my other projects and goals, I agreed to continue my involvement for a bit longer, until a permanent replacement can be named.
Most of us experience this delicate balance, or dance, between doing what needs to be done in the eyes of others and doing what needs to be done in eyes of our soul. Sometimes we make decisions that appear selfish to others, and sometimes we make decisions that appear selfish to our “self.”
But at the end of the day, we can choose to evolve slowly, like nature, eventually finding the right solution.
Arriving, not imposing. A true act of self-care.