Change is Like a New Kitten

8 09 2011

Do you ever wake up and want to change everything in your life?

Every few months, I get into a mood where I want to completely overhaul every aspect of my life. I want to start a new exercise plan, learn some new skill for work, get a new haircut, re-arrange my furniture…what have you. But changing too many things at once can get unwieldy and overwhelming and for me at least, none of those changes last.

Two days ago, my roommates and I rescued a cat, Delphina (don’t ask me, I didn’t name her). Like most cats who are moved into a new house with new owners, she was scared, shy and uncomfortable. As soon as we brought her home, she darted under the couch and hid there for the whole first night.

My roommate wanted to play with her so he got down on the floor, reached his arm under the couch and pulled her out. He tried to hug her into submission but a second later, Delphina leapt from his arms in a tizzy and bolted back into her hiding place. She cowered back in her corner more scared than before.

After my roommate went to bed, I took my turn trying to play with the new kitten. I dangled a cat toy in front of her, but she wasn’t having any of it. So, rather than force it, I just sat on the floor near her, letting her get used to my presence. Occasionally I would make some “here kitty” motions but for the most part I left her alone. Eventually, step by step, Delphinacrept closer to me and then cuddled into my arm.

We’ve had her a couple days now and I’m still the only one she’ll come out to play with, in fact she’s cradled between my arms as I type right now.

It’s a Slow Road to Lasting Change

Trying to get the cat to play with and love me is a pretty good metaphor for change. We’d love to reach out and seize change, pull it towards us and hold it in our arms until it stays for good. However, change is finicky and elusive. It will slip out of our hands in an instant, leaving us back in square one.

To change and to make it last, we’ve got to coax it towards us and get a little crafty. Sometimes after even the tiniest step forward, we experience a step backwards. Even after a step forward that sticks, we have to wait and adjust – often for quite some time – before we can take another tiny step forward. Taking the slow and steady path is how to make a change that lasts. It is how to get it to cuddle into your arms rather than dart back into hiding.

There is No Right Way to Change

There are of course the kinds of people who wake up one morning, decide to makeover their lives entirely and accomplish it all in one step. That’s great for them and I admire their resolve but, not everyone works that way. Many people, like me, need a stepwise approach.

Sometimes change is like a moody cat but so long as we keep saying “here kitty” and remain patient, we can get it to curl up into our arms like a warm, furry friend.

Do you think people who change fast can change for good? Or is it really slow and steady wins the race? What have your experiences been?

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