Becoming requires action. And yes, this is a blog about life, not a philosophy blog. We don’t think our way into new actions, behaviors, or attitudes. We act our way into them.
Paralysis is easy. Over-thinking, -managing, and -analyzing are easy. Although inertia, fear, depression, anxiety, and unhappiness are uncomfortable, staying in them can feel easier than taking action to move forward. What I learned in grade school science–that it requires less energy to keep an object in motion than it does to get it moving in the first place–is true in life, as well. What do you want change in your life? Don’t just think, do, and you will change.
Acting our way into being can feel scary, exciting, uncomfortable, irritating, joyful, sad, methodical, or haphazard; and sometimes we feel several of these emotions at the same time. However, when we act, we discover strength, insight, or abilities beyond what we thought we had. Like a child who takes a first step and doesn’t realize exactly what happened, but feels excited and tries it again, our experience gives us incentive to take another step, to keep acting upon our life and world. Action becomes easier, much like a ball that keeps rolling after being nudged. We might pause or run out of steam for a while. We might fall like a child learning to walk. But like a child learning to walk and explore a larger world, our experience of action shows us that we’re different now than we were. Acting encourages more action. It’s like what happened with someone this week who told me, “I didn’t think I liked to meet new people and I didn’t think I was good at it, but I pushed myself to do that at work this week. I discovered I liked it after all. I’m also a lot better at it that I thought. I’ve already set up more appointments for next week and I’ve decided what part of my skills I want to improve next.”
Action changes us without our consciously being aware of the change while it’s occurring. We notice the change afterward, and it leads us forward. Sometimes it’s so hard to act that it feels like pushing one foot in front of the other through a thick swamp. Eventually, we reach firm ground. It might not happen right away, but it becomes easier to see our goal.
This week I realized again that I cannot leap tall building in a single bound. No matter how many times I’ve crashed into buildings in the past, the balance between striving to leap and accepting limitations can be difficult to discern. Knowing I would crash into the building if I tried to leap it, I stayed on the ground and figured out alternative paths to my goals. I kept telling myself, “Act your way into being, Barbara,” and I made myself act each day to counter the inertia I felt. I knew that I couldn’t think my way out of this, but that if I were nice to myself, stayed engaged with the world, prayed, and kept moving forward—even with small steps—I’d make progress towards the new life I want on the other side of that blasted building. As I look back, even this tough week brought good about which I’m pleased. I grew through the struggle, learned some things about myself, discovered to new questions to ponder, and found doors that hold promise and affirmation. If I’d given in and not acted my way into being, I’d be looking at the past week with regret. Instead, I feel good about the person I am now, after this week of being changed by acting. So, who do you want to be, in yourself and in the world? What do you want to change? What does God want for you? Don’t just think. Do.
Learning: We don’t think our way into being. We act our way into being.