I spend my days surrounded by the art of kintsugi. It's what I do day in and day out all the time.
You might think that with such immersion in this art form that choosing to look for the gold or choosing growth in difficult situations would come naturally to me by now.
But it still doesn't.
The truth is that change is hard, and unwanted and unchosen change is even harder yet.
All change involves some sort of loss as we leave the status quo behind. Unwanted and unchosen change mixes that loss with the uncertainty and vulnerability that comes with having no control.
When I've chosen a given change, it's because I think that what I'm moving toward is worth what I'm leaving behind. I have a plan for what comes next, and I'm choosing something better.
That sense of choice and of moving toward something desirable makes dealing with change's loss easier to swallow.
When a change is forced on me, it almost always means that what I'm losing means more to me than any future option I can imagine at the time. I have no plan for something better. I have no control over what I'm losing or what comes next.
I still hit those moments and resist with everything I've got. I resist the change. I try to cling to whatever I'm losing. I get paralyzed by panic and get stuck in imagining worst case scenarios.
The very last thing I want to do is work toward acceptance or growth or finding gold in my scars. I just want back whatever it is I've lost.
That's never an option, though, is it?
The only I choice I have at that point is how I'm going to move forward.
Years of practice at kintsugi living have taught me that the only way to regain a sense of agency and choice in times like that is to actively choose how I will deal with the situation.
It doesn't make the change I'm facing any more wanted or desirable. There's still a lot of loss and grief to work through. It's still scary and painful and awful.
Nothing can change that, but if I have to go through the awful (and I do), then I might as well actively choose to make the awful serve me as much as I can.
I might as well choose to use the situation (awful and unwanted as it is) as an opportunity for growth. I might as well mine it for every bit of kintsugi gold I can find.
Not only does that create the possibility of making something good out of the awfulness, but it also restores my sense of agency, and that empowers me and boosts my resilience at a time when I need it most.
I may not have had any choice about the change and the loss that goes with it, but I can choose growth in the midst of the rubble that's left in its wake.
Change is hard. Unwanted and unchosen change is harder still.
Choosing growth in the face of unwanted and unchosen change isn't easy, but practice has taught me that making that choice helps make the unbearable a little more bearable by giving me something better to choose to focus on.
That's why I keep practicing living a kintsugi life. It's why after my initial resistance and panic fades enough for me to see more clearly, I choose growth from the rubble again and again.
How do you deal with unwanted and unchosen change in your life?
What does kintsugi living mean for you in times like that?
How could you more intentionally choose growth in whatever unwanted change you are facing now? How might that affect your experience of that change?
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