David Hager, a good friend and colleague tells a wonderful story about his strong-willed daughter and how, one day in response to a potential family drama, she simply said, “I could change my mind.”
Wouldn’t it be great if, as an adult, when faced with drama and struggle, you could simply choose to change your mind and let the struggle go? What a genius way to avoid the drama in the first place!
Here’s the delightful story:
“When our daughter Elsa was about 3, I was with her and her sister Laura (then 5) at a playground during a vacation trip to the Northwest United States. Elsa was in a swing and enjoying herself. I had agreed to pick up my wife, Jennifer, some distance away at 3 PM and it was now past that. Jennifer had not been feeling well and had no mobile phone at the time.
When I nicely told Elsa that we had to go, she frowned, her jaw set, and her knuckles turned white as she gripped the chain on the swing. ‘This is not going to end well,’ I thought to myself. All pleas were rebuffed. She even tried to wind her legs around the swing seat to make it clear she was going nowhere. The resolute look on her face was clear: ‘This is Elsa, resistance is futile.’ At age 3, a young woman of iron will.
At one point, fully defeated, I said out loud in a soft voice and to no one in particular: ‘What can we do? If I try to make Elsa let go of the swing, she will scream, cry and be very angry. If we don’t pick up Jennifer soon, she will worry about us.’
At that moment, young genius 5-year-old Laura said, ‘I know, Dad! Elsa could change her mind!’ To my utter amazement, Elsa said, as if on cue: “Yeah! I could change my mind!” She let go of her grip and jumped from the swing and ran to the car.
I have not tried to parse too many interpretations to this, but it occurred to me that a mild miracle had occurred here. I first admitted powerlessness, and then emitted what some might see as a prayer. I certainly was asking for help.
Laura channeled wisdom that I lacked. Elsa had a paradigm shift, if such a term can be applied to a 3-year-old, and the event became a family story of the capacity to change our minds.
Myself, I rarely know how to change my mind. What if I could ask myself: “What if I allowed my mind to be changed?”
I think that surrendering and asking for help, however defined, is always the key to allowing change within. Anytime I ask for help rather than try to do it all myself, something is set in motion. The answer is frequently not the one I was secretly hoping for. And it may come quickly or slowly.
Sometimes the universe seems to return the call immediately, but sometimes it seems to prefer email or even snail mail replies. And sometimes none. Or sometimes through an unexpected ‘messenger.’ But usually the mere act of asking at least changes me in some way.”