Personal Growth

Do You Live in an Open or Closed System?

By Suzanne E. Harrill

Do you like your life the way it is, or would you like to change it for the better, at least with the things you have control over -- how you use your time, your degree of social interaction, your interest in learning and growing, what you eat, or your degree of physical activity to name a few? Sometimes we are unhappy with our current life and say we want to experience a different reality. Maybe you want to stop feeling bored or resistant to developing new interests or want to have a life with more fun and excitement. You might like to meet new people and expand your circle of friends or break out of a bad habit or feeling stuck. If you have a health challenge you may want to explore alternative methods of healing. We say we want these to be in our current reality, yet we procrastinate making them a part of our life.

When your desires do not match the results manifesting and you are confused with this dilemma, consider that you may have outgrown your current world. This happens to all of us at times. We all have an imaginary boundary around "our world." Our world includes many things such as beliefs, choices, activities, and what we are willing to do or not do to change things. The more limiting our world the less open and flexible we are to new ideas, solutions, and choices and therefore, the more closed the system. The more willing we are to look beyond our personal frame of reference the more open the system. There are degrees of being open or closed. If you want new results you may be limiting yourself by living in a system that is too tightly closed and may benefit with some expansion. On the other hand, some of us would benefit with the opposite suggestion. If we are too open we may be scattered with too much to do with too many options available, and therefore having difficulty discerning which to choose, how to say no, or are so busy we have little time to take care of necessities.

Grab a piece of paper and draw a circle on it, any size you choose. The circle can be a thick solid line, a dotted line, or a light thin line. Begin describing your life and write statements inside your circle about your life, at least 10 things. Write outside of the circle the things you want to experience, learn, or wish you had in your life.

Let's look at hidden meanings in this exercise. Ask yourself questions like, what is the tone of the statements inside the circle describing your life? Notice if they are upbeat, depressing, positive, negative, affirming, or complaining. How do you feel when you read the statements to yourself? Happy, sad, joyful, ashamed? What would you say is the current theme of your current world? Is the circle you drew small or large? Does your circle have a solid or dotted line? If you have a dotted line, things can penetrate and leave your world easily. A dark solid line may represent solidity or security; however, it may symbolize more of a barrier to allowing the new to find you than a thin, light line. Look at the things outside of your circle. Are they foreign to you or things you may have tried and are open to experiencing more? Jot down insights you may have gathered. Keep pondering for new insights.

Usually in a closed system you want things to stay the same, do not like to take risks, and do not like change. You may not be growing and interacting with people and ideas outside of your frame of reference because you have a high priority to feel comfortable and safe and prefer predictability. You may be comfortable yet are not thriving. When we become aware that we have outgrown our world and want to experience more, it is beneficial to look at the limiting patterns in place, such as beliefs, behaviors, habits, and people that no longer serve us that may contribute to feeling stuck and unhappy. It may be time to lighten the boundary in some places to allow the old to leave so the new can come in. It's like cleaning a closet which creates space for new things to be stored.

In an open system, the boundaries of our world keep expanding if we chose. Experiences and people and ideas move in and out more easily. With open boundaries, we accept that change is constant and do what we need to do to manage and accept change, both wanted and unwanted. For example, try one or two of the following to help do a better job accepting change:

1.       talk about feelings and reactions to life with a supportive friend

2.       read books or listen to TED Talks to gather new information to help with unresolved issues and patterns

3.       begin therapy, it is never too late

4.       journal-write about thoughts and feelings daily

When we want more in our life, it is more likely we will get different results and manifest a life more to our liking if we learn to open our system. It is helpful to look for role models who are better able to accept change and who take risks to change and get the results they want. Notice things these people do or say that are different than what you are conditioned to do that may be difficult for you. Talk to them, ask them for support to open your world view. Find out their inner process of meeting their challenges and disappointments, getting in touch with new ideas, and accepting change. We all benefit from mentors and supportive friends and teachers a step ahead of us on the journey of life.

There is no right or wrong here whether we live in an open or closed system. In fact, it may be optimal to have both available to us and develop the flexibility to open or close our boundaries depending on our current needs. Maybe an updated drawing of the circle has a thin solid line and a gate where we can see what we want to let in and let out. The intention of this article is to expand awareness about the boundaries we have established in our lives. The more aware we are the more we know about the choices we are making, they become conscious choices.

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