Part of the experience of getting older is physical change. Whether injury or illness, our bodies react differently than they used to, often showing less resilience. Often, these changes present new, frustrating limitations.
These setbacks are challenging. They require us to give things up, to change our routines, sometimes to recast our self-image.
And it is natural to experience many of these changes as one-way doors: “I used to be able to do this, now I can only do this.”
If we’re lucky, and if we commit to rest and recovery, they are, in fact, two-way doors: “right now, I can no longer do this, but I will be able to come back through this door in a few months’ time.”
We can have the same experience when we learn something about ourselves. Imagine a colleague says something that really hits home—a new truth about how she experiences you. Have you just walked through:
- A one-way door. “I am (or am not) the type of person who is good at _______. End of story.”
- A door that swings both ways. “I have learned that I am (or am not) not currently the kind of person who is good at _____, and I’m going to use that information to do _____ so that this will change over time.
- Two doors: “I have learned that this is (is not) my strength, and I’m worse at (better at) this other thing. So I’m going to choose to do more of this and less of that.”
- Multiple doors: “I have learned this new thing about myself, so I’m going to walk through this other door for a while, and maybe come back here later. And, lo and behold, at the other side of this door there’s a whole new series of doors, and…”
The analogies, and the opportunities, begin to multiply.
While this is easy to embrace analytically, feeling it in our gut sometimes takes a bit more work.
Whether a physical change we don’t like, or a hard truth we didn’t want to hear, the biggest risk is that we mistake something that is true now for something that is simply true.
That incorrect conclusion will shape our actions, turning something temporary into something permanent.
“True” almost always means “true right now.” And “now” is different from “later” because of how we respond to the new information.