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Almost every moment of every day requires that we tolerate change. Our environment, our moods, our physical states, and our thoughts are constantly changing, all day long. Yet when it comes to making bigger changes like career changes, relationship changes, and habit changes, most people find themselves avoiding change and maybe even actively resisting it – even when the way things are is far from comfortable.
Sharing the Rabbi Dr. Twerski version of the lobster story is not to question the support that many people receive from the medical supports and medications available to us. In thinking about the lobster however, it is worth considering the ways that we push away the discomfort we feel in life, when feeling it might give us a clue to the things in our life that need to change. If you go out drinking everyday after work to manage the “stress” at work, maybe it is worth wondering…what would happen if you just felt your feelings about work? Would you want to change jobs? Would you want to meet with your boss and see if things could be managed differently? Would you feel better if you got some exercise and went to bed early so that you were better able to handle the stress? By numbing out our uncomfortable feelings we never know that it’s time to grow and change things up.
The clip also sheds light on the positive outcomes that comes along with tolerating the period of vulnerability that comes with change. When you decide to change something big in your life (like a relationship or a behavioral pattern), there will almost always be a period of insecurity and fear. Are you doing the right thing? How will you adapt and cope with the change? Who will support you in making the change? Who will try to undermine you?
Tolerating and accepting that a period of vulnerability comes with making change, can help you go into the period with your eyes open. What do you need to change in your environment so that you can be successful? Do you need to withdrawal from some things (like your friend who is always asking if you want to get high) while you embrace other things (like calling your friend more regularly and sharing what you are going through). Do you need to practice better self-care so that you are rested enough and focused enough to effectively get through all the things that come along with making a big change?
As you contemplate making a change in your life, think about the little lobster. His discomfort in his shell is the cue that prompts a change. And preparing himself for a period of vulnerability is what allows him to successfully cast of his old shell and grow a new one. Think about your own shell, whatever it may be (a job, a relationship, a behavioral pattern) and let yourself consider feeling any discomfort you may have. And then let yourself prepare to grow….it takes thought and care but it’s almost always worth it.
You can read more about the very cool molting and growth process of a lobster here: