Sometimes we get upset, angry, disappointed, or defeated when life unfolds differently than we anticipated. And how we respond to this non-stop flow of change that sweeps through us each day becomes the fabric of our life. It can offer us "aha! moments," breakthroughs in stuck thinking, acceleration in the direction of our goals, opening of our heart, and it can also lead us to sadness, depression, resentment, regret, and in extreme cases, even shutting down, paralysis and withdrawing.
Change is a natural part of life, and we all face it at one time or another. Most of us are continually adjusting our behaviors, expectations, and personal desires making small tweaks that reflect our changing needs or interests. Some have even become time-honored rituals such as family reunions, seasonal cleanses, cleaning out closets, or going on retreat.
Change is the very first seed of personal transformation. So why run from it, when you can understand the power it offers you?
Our Response to Change
How you respond to change often depends on the results you think it will bring, such as excitement if you think it will bring a positive flow into your life, or sadness if you perceive that something you were used to is gone or will be gone. You may feel excited about change that involves a gain, such as a new baby, new house, new client, or a promotion to a new rank. But you may worry about a change that involves a loss, such as divorce, leaving a job, death, illness, moving to a new phase of your life.
Accepting a sudden, unexpected change - like divorce, a diagnosis, a death, being fired, someone you love being hurt, something you are attached to being taken away or shifted, or being transferred - can be the most jarring. You wake up and your world is different, or when tragedy strikes, our lives can shift in the blink of an eye. That's because we paint our world with a brush of consistency even though we know that life is filled with inconsistencies.
What Do I Really Control?
We are all subtle control freaks! (Some of us not so subtle). And when we think we have lost control, then fear, anger, anxiety, stress, and disappointment set in. But if we can accept an uncontrollable change for what it is, accept the reality that we do not have full control over what happens in life, then it becomes easier to be graceful when change visits. If we can make small, incremental shifts towards the new scenario, we may suddenly realize that we are thriving.
We need to remind ourselves that if you don't change...you don't grow! The key is to go back to what we can control, such as our thoughts (through meditation); our words (through impeccable & conscious speech); and our purposeful, unconditioned actions (through, as the Buddha said, right action...coming from a place of stillness and patience).
The Silver Lining in Change
Change - even if we don't want it in the moment - can be beneficial. Change brings us new opportunities to evolve, adapt, and move beyond limiting beliefs. In every change is a lesson. In every change is an opening for something new, letting go of the old, stepping into something fresh, letting go of the stale, being open to the unexpected, stepping beyond limits. In every change we are reminded that we are an integrated thread in the universal fabric of existence - ever changing, ever merging. As one door closes, a new one opens. As one chapter ends, a new one begins. And this wild freight train of existence keeps on moving.
We've all heard Gandhi's quote, "Be the change you want to see in the world." For the next few weeks, let's repeat the mantra, "I am the change!" with all that it brings and with all its scariness, uncertainty, loss of control, and transformational power. So rather than resist and point at the change coming at us, let's embrace the mantra "I am the change!" and let's implement our own changes.
Are you ready to step into this new magnificent wave and ride it? The moment you feel a constriction that takes your breath away, scares you, or inhibits you, silently repeat the mantra and see how it shifts you.
The Process of Moving Through Change
There actually is a science of change & a process to move through it and thrive. I've written about it in "destressifying" and I teach it at my Healing Immersions. It requires a daily practice of quiet contemplation, reflection, releasing what no longer serves you, clarity development, setting intentions, taking action steps, and making a commitment to living your dream. But we can start the innocent unfolding of our relationship to change with a simple yet powerful tool.
First, let's find out where you are right now? Are you struggling? Resisting? Hiding? Procrastinating? Suffering? Making poor decisions or non-nourishing choices due to your relationship with change?
As the twists and turns of life unfold, we often struggle or suffer with how we receive change, understand it, respond to it, cope with it and move through it. Our response to change can impact every facet of our being as we freeze, defend, protect, withdraw or wallow. But we can gracefully deal with change and powerfully shift towards turning this constant fact of life into powerful transformation.
This is why I regularly recite the serenity prayer. And, whether you believe in God or not, understanding the serenity prayer can make a huge difference in how we receive existence. The prayer goes like this:
Dear (Lord, God, Universe, Higher power, divine creator, or whatever feels right to you):
Grant me the serenity to ACCEPT THE THINGS I CANNOT CHANGE.
The courage to CHANGE THE THINGS I CAN.
And the wisdom TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.
For the next few weeks, let's commit to starting our day reciting the serenity prayer. That wisdom to know the difference, will help us soar through change.