CHANGE IS INEVITABLE
Change can be scary. It is like you are travelling the road never travelled before and sometimes that feeling can be combined with feelings of loneliness and apprehension. We know that change and growth must happen, and we know that the result will help us. While in the process, it always seems impossible and self-doubt creeps in like a sly little curse, but when we reach the end of that learning and changing curve, we start to realise that we are capable of so much more and we are proud of ourselves at the same time. Yes, I do give myself a good old slap on the shoulder and congratulate myself when I managed to take the beast of uncertainty and self-doubt off its little pedestal.
We all know that change is inevitable and constant. Look at yourself as an example, think of how the cells is your body constantly changes. You can even look at nature. Think of the constant movement and flow of a river, the different layers of rock and soil which gives geographical times or think of the different circles in an old tree trunk that indicates the age of a tree, how it has grown and evolved. We notice that our neighbourhoods change, rules and laws change and even things that we wish could stay the same, change.
We have all gone through changes in our lives. Your journey is quite different than mine. You might be more flexible and open to challenges and changes than somebody else that you know, but the fact is that in today’s world, it is expected from us to adjust to life events, world events and even home circumstances as if it is no hassle or that anxiety comes into play. Some things we cannot control and other events we can control, but how we handle and adjust to these demands and obstacles, makes a big difference. Do you kick against challenges and change, or do you take it in your favour and invite change to influence you in a positive, growing, and healthy way? Do you fight desperately to hold on to the old and avoiding change at all costs? Have you moved from using a rotary telephone to a mobile phone? Did you realise that it now only takes a few seconds to download a song instead of close to 15 minutes in the past? Have you noticed that Facebook overtook so many other social networking sites? Have you noticed that your interests and relationships changed and expanded as you grew older and wiser?
Some people hate change. They will kick against the slightest hint of change and their defensive reflexes will be obviously displayed, especially when they fight back with vigilance and conviction. The security in the familiarity of things get people comfortable and make them feel safe and secure. The thing is, they do not have total control over the unfamiliar and changing variables and that is when things start to unravel a bit.
There are different types of change, the intentional change and the forced change. Intentional Change is when you initiate changes on your own, in other words Planned Change. These changes are normally easier to follow through with. You know what you are working towards and you have a clear understanding of why you are making these changes. The other change is Forced Change or Unexpected Change and often these types of changes are beyond your control. Some view these changes with fear, worry, bitterness, concern and even anger. A bit later, I will give you a few points on how you can embrace change and how to allow it to enhance the quality of your life. What we want to achieve is to become aware, willing and comfortable with change in a relaxing sense of connection and oneness.
What if we start seeing change as an opportunity to learn and re-create ourselves? Would that motivate you to invite change into your life? You start to see things in a new way, you start acting and achieving in a way that you could not have done before. Basically, you are continually expanding your ability to envision, to build, to create and to respond by willingly and openly accept change that improves and transforms you in a healthy way.
With Nelson Mandela day coming up, I thought of throwing in a quote to give you a bit of motivation and help you realise what you are capable of. Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”. Quite powerful and insightful.
Here are a few pointers on how you can make a start on embracing change:
- Assume Responsibility: Accept responsibility in any part that you played in the changes that happened. By accepting your part, you also need to forgive yourself. Clear the air and set yourself up in empowering yourself forward onto another path.
- Plan: Prepare yourself mentally for what unexpected changes might come. Cultivate your courage, curiosity, gratitude and optimism because these things will provide you with flexibility and strength when you come face-to-face with change. Think of how you handled changes in your past, evaluate them, reflect on them and allow yourself to learn from those experiences. Think on how you might handle worst case scenarios in the future (even though it might be difficult and uncomfortable), as this allow you to plan ahead about how you might perceive and act when you are in the moment. Take your time for an example. You can create a timeline that you can prepare that will enable you to plan and understand how the change can be maintained.
- Take Time to Respond: So here you are, facing unexpected or forced change. Acknowledge that change is bringing the opportunity for new possibilities and perspectives that might not have been available before. Do not get caught up in short-term thinking and expand your view to the bigger picture. Remember your breathing, stay calm, plan your actions, be aware of your thoughts and your mindset, and take one step at a time that will help you move forward.
- Open yourself to Improving your Life: Clarify what you want. Look out for opportunities that allows small changes that might have a big impact down the road, for example forming and building relationships, taking on a new health regime or what about enrolling onto a course to expand your knowledge? Seek for things that you can do differently instead of following a normal routine. This makes life interesting and enjoyable. Another little note for you to remember is that if you embrace change, it means that you will never stop learning, it offers you new opportunities and experiences that you can enjoy and it keeps life interesting. Determine these changes according to value or benefit. What will you benefit out of the changes? Do you have a purpose or an end goal? Will you be more dedicated to work towards change if you are excited about it? Have you matched your highest values and talents to achieving your desired changes?
- Shift your Perception: Normally after a forced change, there is a brief emotional reaction. Pause and assess how you view the change. Are you open to the change or have you shut down and do not want to see all sides to this situation? Make sure that you are open to the various sides and have the willingness to consider all sides equally.
- See the Positive Side of Change: Focus your attention to the positive sides of what is happening. This is not always easy to do and will take time and dedication, but when you give attention to your thought process, your emotions, your perspectives and behaviour, things can get clearer. It helps to view change as positive and beneficial instead of scary and threatening. When you do learn how to incorporate change into your life then you also learn how to live a productive and happy life that will enable you to move forward and not stagnate.
- Create Positive Outcomes: You might be sceptic here, but we can create positive outcomes irrespective of what changes are happening around us. You need to believe that what you want is possible and by using this belief, it will empower you to have the power to choose how you react to change and how eagerly you invite positive change into your life. Remember, you have the power to make your vision a reality by simply deciding on the best possible outcome that could result from the change.
- Acknowledge your Fears: As mentioned earlier, change can be scary and for some people even crippling. I want to invite you to acknowledge the fears that you might experience while you are going through change and instead of it crippling you or scaring you away, take action. When you enter the unknown territory of change, do not jump to the conclusion that it is all bad. Allow yourself to feel fear and acknowledge it. You can change your thought process and how you perceive it and think that this change could be the best thing that ever happened to you and then you act by not allowing it to stop you in your tracks.
- Failure and Success: Appreciate failures. Some might sway towards the path of self-sabotage when they experience failure. Embrace failure and allow yourself the opportunity to learn from these failures. Enjoy success in such a way that you can appreciate the good things that comes with change.
- Employ your Talents and Strengths: When confronted with change, we need to deal with new information, events and circumstances. We must employ our ability to adapt to the new in creative ways. Be curious, ask questions, keep your skills current and drive change.
- Wisdom: When you start to embrace change, there is a new profound type of wisdom and strength that comes with it. Work on your resilience, inner peace, courage and calmness. You might feel that you were in a washing-machine lately with all the changes, but realise that with all the twists that you have survived you did not allow it to break you.
- Seeing Change as an Adventure: It is helpful if you make a mind-switch and instead of thinking of change as “scary”, “crippling” or “uncertain”, think of change as a fun experience where you can learn and have fun at the same time. Change does not have to be a big dark cloud that hangs over your head but can be a cloud of rain that provides water for growth and beauty.
- Reduce your Expectations: Nothing stays the same nor does it last forever. If you reduce your expectations of your relationships or a situation it will help you to be easier accepting of change when it does come. Stop expecting a certain outcome and this will help ease change when it does come your way. I am not saying that you should lower your standards, just to lower your expectations a bit.
- Create a Comfortable Space: Create a comfortable space in your home where you can relax, unwind and ground yourself. When you allow yourself me-time, you allow your thoughts to calm down and to sort itself out. Remember to take a stroll in the sunlight, breathe in some fresh air and to treat yourself to some quality time and maybe a special something that will make you feel good and more positive.
- Be Kind to Yourself: I try to put this in every blog, and I cannot stress how important this is. You know that little voice in your head that is the first one that loudly pop up when you make a mistake? That is the little voice that you must be aware of and question whether it is accurate or not. Negative self-talk can easily tear you down, especially when you get confronted by forced or unexpected change. Practice positive thinking about yourself and your abilities to adapt to new situations.
- Encourage Others: This last point can be extremely liberating and exhilarating. When you realised that change is not your enemy and realise what benefits change can have on you and others, encourage others to initiate and embrace change as well. Encourage new ways of doing things though experimentation. Communicate how change can better the lives of others by using your persuasion and influencing skills.
Change is not always easy for some and although the points above might help them, therapy might still be required if they cannot cope with change. Some situations you might know how to handle, but others not and that is where you can take the steps towards bettering yourself and others around you by becoming a beacon of hope. Always work on your own learning, development, growth and mental wellbeing. Examine your own emotional health, your own capabilities, time and patience to make sure that you do not forego your own wellbeing. If you do feel that you or somebody that you know is not coping with any type of change, please reach out to me or another therapist for help.
As always, I like to end my blog with a quote or two and the following really enforces what I am trying to say in this blog. The first one if from Leon Brown who said, “For every positive change you make in your life, something else also changes for the better, it creates a chain reaction.”, and this one from Roy T Bennett who said, “You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins in the end of your comfort zone.”. As a little bonus, here is an extra quote from Robin Sharma who said, “Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.”.
As a reminder, GEM Mental Health Therapy and Coaching has decided to offer Skype Video Calls, Zoom Video Meetings, WhatsApp Calls and WhatsApp Video Chats in order to reach as many people as possible. I have also decided to incorporate Counselling via Email, which seems a bit unorthodox, but some clients do not have the freedom and privacy to discuss heart matters in the enclosed environment that they find themselves in at this time. Please do not hesitate to reach out so that we can work together on your mental health as we face these challenging times.
Thank you very much for reading my blog. I truly hope that it helped somebody, somewhere. Please send any feedback or comments to email@example.com and remember to have a look out for a new blog every week.