To say I’ve had more change in the past year than I have for decades is a major understatement. The past 12 months have served up a major health wobble, closing a business and starting a new one, then an interstate move to top it off.
Change has a bad rap. Our fear of change can contribute to a reluctance to alter how we live – even making minor adjustments – so we get stuck in a situation that no longer serves us well. The trick to managing change is not getting into such a deep rut in the first place. But when we do, embrace the chaos and find the gems.
Here are five ways to embrace change that help me.
- Listen – if you feel dissatisfied with some aspect of your life, take a deep breath and sit with the thought. Meditate for five minutes – consciously try not think about the issue. Set a timer and take slow, deep breaths. When the alarm goes write down what is in your head. This doesn’t mean you have to act on anything. It’s more an exercise in mental spring cleaning. Though if you’ve not listened to yourself for a long time, it may turn into an emotional archaeological dig.
- Don’t be afraid of what comes up when you listen to yourself. The mental dross that floats to the surface isn’t always an accurate assessment of the situation. It’s ok to laugh at what appears but ideally it’s better to not judge or censor. It’s only a thought. Sometimes we have to clear the dross and petty anxieties before we can excavate the real issues.
- Map before you act – Mind maps are just a diagram of different possibilities when exploring a theme. For some it’s a doodle with words, while others turn it into an elaborate art form. Think of it as a ‘what if’ exercise and go wild exploring all the possibilities. For example it might be about changing your job. At the centre is ‘change job’ and coming out of it are lots of possibilities and from each of them, more potential outcomes.
- Gather your resources. What research do you need to follow through any of the possibilities? For example, if you want to take time out to travel how much will it cost and how can you finance it? Do you need to actually work more for a short time to fund the trip? Can you work abroad? The Internet can help you work out the costs and answer most of the questions. For bigger issues like ending a relationship, changing careers or moving cities you may need to consider investing in seeing a relevant counsellor or psychologist. Or if the though any kind of change triggers anxiety, get professional help.
- Choose change. While no one chooses to get sick, you can still ask for help, research your options and make active choices in your treatment and recovery. The same goes for ending a relationship or losing a job. Finding ways to claim choice in the change of circumstance helps you mentally move through difficult times and embrace the outcomes. When we feel like a victim, blaming others or ourselves effectively shuts the door on growth and stops us from finding the upside to change.
Sometimes you don’t need to change anything but rather the process of considering change can reaffirm how we are already living and help us to more actively enjoy life. However, when change comes knocking it’s never too late to embrace it. The next step is following the path to transformation, a theme I’ll explore in the next newsletter.
What helps you embrace change?
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