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Can a leopard change its spots?

Or in my case can a panda change it’s habits? (panda is my totem animal in case you wondered at my bizarre choice).

Since moving to Melbourne just over a year ago, I’ve been faced with the alarming realisation that there are many things about my habits, mannerisms and personality that don’t serve me for my highest good. Part of this realisation is from being physically near my twin soul (my sister LJ) which, as I’ve touched on in a previous post, is akin to having a mirror held up to myself from which I cannot look away.

On being slapped in the face by the trout of truth (my version of a wet fish), my ever-present logic brain kicked-in to make (what it thought was) a list of all the things I needed to change, which felt depressingly long!

2013-04-26 16.40.42

  • Eat breakfast everyday and don’t overeat/portion control.
  • Be more patient with myself.
  • Be more mindful in my choices.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Don’t let the logic-mind run riot.
  • Be in the present moment.
  • Stop negative self-talk.
  • Make sure I have me time regularly.
  • Don’t swallow what I really think for fear of rocking the boat.
  • Stop trying to control/fix other people.

Generally being an optimist and an *action* sort of person, I set about trying to tick all these things off my list as soon as possible (as I would with any other project) but therein lies the problem, I’m not a project and I soon found myself totally overwhelmed by the sheer number of things I needed to work on. Predictably, by trying to knock all these off in one fell swoop, I ended up at *fuckit let me eat this entire bag of cookies* which, of course, didn’t really help at all, apart from affording me the briefest flicker of imagined respite from my long list of failings.

So, back to the drawing board…my usual method of coping (use logic-brain) doesn’t work…cue the onset of panic, distress, feelings of being in free-fall. Then it dawned on me that perhaps the key was not to immediately set to work on trying to *fix* everything but to focus on accepting the truth of myself and learn to love and accept that Anna, because with being loved would come the natural urge to *want* to look after myself properly (eating well, exercising regularly, making time for myself, not talking badly of myself, not trying to control/fix other people to distract me from my own issues etc).

Having discussed this with LJ, who is a qualified holistic counsellor, it turns out that there is a proper term for this called the “Paradoxical Theory of Change”:

“Briefly stated, it is this: that change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not. Change does not take place through a coercive attempt by the individual or by another person to change him, but it does take place if one takes the time and effort to be what he is — to be fully invested in his current positions. By rejecting the role of change agent, we make meaningful and orderly change possible” Dr. Arnold Beisser, M.D. 1970

Nifty eh! So I’m learning to love the Anna I am now, which is certainly challenging at times but I’ve noticed I’m less hard on myself lately, because I’ve stopped expecting myself to be perfect. Ultimately, I don’t believe we are here to malign ourselves and try to squeeze into boxes defined as perfection that don’t quite fit, rather we’re here to be human, which  means beautifully flawed in my view. This is a perfect reminder by writer Courtney A. Walsh:

“Dear Human: You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. That is where you came from and where you’ll return. You came here to learn personal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love, infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of…messing up. Often.  You didn’t come here to be perfect.  You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous, and then to rise again to remembering. But unconditional love? Stop telling that story. Love in truth doesn’t need ANY other adjectives. It doesn’t require modifiers. It doesn’t require the condition of perfection. It only ask that you show up, and do your best. That you stay present and feel fully. That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as YOU. It’s enough. It’s Plenty.” by Courtney A. Walsh.

So, in answer to my original question: “Can a leopard change its spots?” Yes, but only once it accepts and embraces them (^_-)

Big love

Anna xx


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