Make the Change by Existing in the Mess

One of the messiest and scariest places you visit when trying to make positive changes is the middle ground. The middle ground exists somewhere between where you've been and where you're trying to go.

(BTW, that's original artwork for Just Rolling with It from my friend Jason!)

In the middle ground, you haven’t -

  • Fully left behind that thing you’re trying to change from
  • Quite developed into what you’re trying become

You might become aware of this middle ground if -

  • You’ve been working hard to make a positive change
  • Feel like you've been putting in the effort and dedication necessary to begin realizing the positive effects of these positive changes
  • Wondering when you're going to start experiencing the positive effects, if ever!

Where the Magic of Change Happens

This middle ground is the place where the magic of change happens.

From staying present with impermanence and change, we become more confident, more fearless, more accepting of the groundlessness of the human condition.

Pema Chodron 
Living Beautifully: With Uncertainty and Change

However, that magic of change will only happen if you can - 

  • Stand to exist long enough in the messy middle ground and
  • Not retreat back to the comfort of the known, which is usually that thing you’re trying to change from and leave behind

The middle ground can feel messy and frightening, especially if you experience it as a place, like I have, where -

  • The structures that you’ve created, developed, and refined to manage you life don't fit into it
  • You experience a loss of any perceived control you feel you may have had when the structures were in place

At the same time, it's probably the -

  • Very loosening of these structures
  • Slow abandonment of perceived control

That lets things happen differently, opening the door to change.

My own experience has been that -

  • Things need to happen differently if things are to change
  • Change creates the space that is necessary for the magic to happen

The Magic is Revealed Gradually

When you’re in the middle ground, rather than anticipating or waiting for a major breakthrough, try keeping an eye out for some of the good things that start to reveal themselves in bits and pieces, poking through here and there, kind of like...

The sun about to burn through the clouds...

or the rising sun reflecting off the glass of a building on the skyline...

These positive bits and pieces can be encouraging signs and provide the hope and inspiration that helps you stay in that middle ground long enough for the change to happen.

While you might not feel like the scale has tipped and the momentum shifted to the point where things start rolling on their own, in the direction of positive change, you may just notice that the scale is tipping and the momentum is shifting just enough to start - 

  • Revealing the positive effects of the change in your life
  • Making it a little easier to stick with the change, by staying in the middle ground long enough for the change to happen

Recognizing the Magic

It can be really helpful to capture the thoughts and feelings associated with these positive bits and pieces as they begin to take shape , as you experience them, by taking a few minutes to pause, sit and reflect on what may be happening. Because once your mind starts rolling again and picking up steam, it becomes more difficult to remember that these small changes might, just might, be having the desired positive effects.

Writing in a journal on a daily basis is fantastic way to capture these thoughts and feelings.

Leo Babauta recommends daily writing for everybody. It was actually this post that inspired me to start the blog that was a precursor to Just Rolling with It.

Writing helps you reflect on your life and changes you’re making. This is incredibly valuable, as often we do things without realizing why, or what effects these things are having on us.

Leo Babauta 
Zen Habits

When you're in the middle of the messy middle ground, journaling will help you slow down, pull your head up from the mess and help reset your perspective on the mess and why you're sitting in it. Remembering that you're doing this for a reason and a good reason at that, will also help you exist in it long enough to allow the change to happen.

By being aware of, acknowledging and remembering where you are in the cycle of change, you’ll have an easier time sticking to the change you started, by experiencing the magic being in the middle ground just might bring.