We recently went into escrow on our house, but don’t yet have a new house to move into. As excited as we are about our move (just across the San Francisco Bay from Concord to Marin County), it feels pretty scary to not yet know exactly where we’ll be living next month.
With this big change and a few others coming soon, I’ve been noticing how I deal with and relate to change. I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship to change. I love the excitement, growth opportunity, and newness of change. But, at the same time, I can easily fall into states of worry, fear, and overwhelm when facing change, especially big ones.
How do you feel about change? While it may depend on the specific change (i.e. one we want versus one we don’t want, or one that seems exciting versus one that seems hard or even “bad.”), most of us seek and fear change simultaneously. Even positive changes can be unsettling or even downright upsetting. And, while each of us has a unique personality and perspective, many of us tend to be creatures of habit.
Change is one of the main “constants” in life, ironically. However, we don’t usually spend all that much time thinking about our relationship to change or specifically expanding on our ability to adapt to change – we usually deal with it from a place of survival, reaction, or necessity.
What if we embraced change more consciously and learned how to not only “manage” it, but thrive through it. Whether you’re someone who enjoys change and handles it quite well, or you hate it and get totally stressed out by it, all of us can benefit from embracing change more deliberately and supporting those around us as we all go through the big and small changes of life – especially these days.
Here are some things you can do and think about as you deal with change in your own life – so as to more effectively and peacefully deal with it when it shows up.
1) Become consciously aware of your relationship to change. Knowing how you deal with change, what stresses you out about it, what allows you to navigate it most effectively, what kind of support you need as you move through the change process, and more, are all important elements of embracing change. It’s rarely the circumstances themselves that cause us stress or difficulty; it’s our relationship to them. By altering our relationship to change, we can become much more peaceful and successful in dealing with it.
2) Acknowledge and express your true feelings (especially your fear). When change occurs, there are usually a number of different emotions we experience. We tend to focus most of our attention on the details, specifics, and circumstances, not so much on our emotions. However, it is our emotional experience and reaction that dictates much of our effectiveness (or lack thereof) in dealing with change. Whether it’s something we consider “good” or “bad,” fear is almost always associated with change, because we’re moving into something unknown and often uncomfortable. By acknowledging and expressing our fear (and other emotions) in an authentic way, we can take back our power from the situation, get real about how we’re feeling, and move through it with more ease and grace. There’s nothing wrong with any of the emotions we experience during change, the problems begin to arise when we don’t express our emotions authentically.
3) Get support. As with most things in life, change is much easier to deal with when we get help. We don’t have to go through it all alone and there are probably many people in our lives who have gone through similar changes before and can support us in the process. Asking for and receiving help from other people can be challenging for many of us and can feel quite vulnerable. However, one of my favorite sayings is, “The answer’s always ‘no’ if you don’t ask.” Getting support not only makes dealing with change easier for us, it allows other people to be of service, which is something most people love to have the opportunity to do in life.
4) Look for the gold. There is “gold’ in the midst of every change – even the most painful and difficult ones. When change is more “positive,” it can seem easier to find the gold in it. However, positive change can also be tricky because we don’t understand why we still may experience fear or discontent and sometimes won’t acknowledge these and other feelings due to our own embarrassment. With change that is more “negative,” it can often be hard to find or see the gold. When dealing with difficult changes in our lives, being able to authentically get in touch with the gifts, blessings, and growth opportunities available to us can help as we navigate our way through the experience and also allow us to evolve in the process.
Have empathy and compassion for yourself and others in going through change. It’s not easy for most of us. By embracing change we become not only more effective in dealing with it, but more peaceful, present, and powerful in our lives.