Throughout your whole life, you will find that you are leaving things. You left the womb; you left schools; you left friendships behind; you left places; you left occupations. You will inevitably, at some time, leave your senses, your health, even your life itself. While all these things create a loss, there are ways of managing change so that it retains elegance and beauty.
In particular, there are ways of letting go of things that avoid violence to yourself and others. Most of these, in principle, are internal, in that they begin with our inner self. Think of yourself as an engine: you can either spend your whole life spewing out fumes (anger, confusion, unkindness, self-interest, disturbance, insults); or you can run on more eco-friendly fuel (peace, clarity, kindness, other-focus, calm, friendly words).
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN LEAVING
Whatever the move, the art of making it involves a few suggested dos and don’ts:
do minimise argument and fuss
do communicate honestly and simply
do show others that you care
do show that you have thought of others’ points of view
do add something soothing to help soften
do remain courteous and helpful
Let’s say you are rebalancing your activities, and you want to stop providing a service to others, perhaps in order to focus on another activity you consider more important.
If you start from self-concern, you will almost always create difficulty for yourself, because you will naturally neglect others, causing worry in them, and guilt in yourself.
However, if you start from peaceful other-focus, you are likely to make things easier for everyone, including yourself.
HOW NOT TO GO ABOUT CHANGE
Here is an example of how to spew out fumes in a message:
“Dear All, I have found it increasingly difficult to cope with all my work. [Here give several details irrelevant to your clients, but relevant to you. Describe in acute detail how many problems it has all caused you.] I now want to have some time for myself. I am not sure exactly when things will come to an end. But I feel that carrying on giving without receiving enough in return is just making it difficult for me.”
This satisfies all the negative requirements of a good piece of poison. It shows anger; sews confusion (when are you stopping exactly?); fails to care for others (where is the demonstration of care?); encourages disturbance (with a masterful suggestion of being hard done by); and even manages to mildly insult others by suggesting they are not giving enough in return.
A BETTER WAY TO GO ABOUT CHANGE
Here us an example of an improved message:
“Dear [name of individual],
I wanted to let you know of some changes. You can call me at any time to discuss things further.
From [date], I will no longer be [name the activity]. I realise that this may be a big change, and I am keen to make sure that you are looked after as well as possible. I know that you may wish to continue with [the activity] in whatever way you can. I enclose a list of resources that may help, and do get in touch with me if you need further assistance.
Until [date] everything will continue as normal. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to ask if you have further questions.
With warm wishes,
Notice how the message fulfils, in some way, all of the 6 key points mentioned above.
You will notice that the second message respects the personal autonomy of the other, while offering availability if needed. It doesn’t overburden with information, but neither does it hide. It simply states the case, and in addition frames things from the other’s point of view.
I guess this is characteristic of wise change, and all wise action. It remains assertive (you are allowed to make your own decisions), whilst being cooperative (you respect the right of others to make theirs).
Change is inevitable, so it pays to effect it with elegance and beauty. Tips for managing change include:
minimise argument and fuss
communicate honestly and simply
show others that you care
show that you have thought of others’ points of view
add something soothing to help soften
remain courteous and helpful