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Change Happens

“There is nothing permanent except Change” – Heraclitus

Many of us find change really difficult.  It is often met with fear and resistance and a sense that we don’t know how to handle it.

There are the big life changes – starting or changing schools, going to Uni & leaving home, moving house, bereavement, illness, changing jobs or careers, redundancy, marriage or relationship break-ups, having children, children leaving home – the list is endless. 

These are milestones of life and how we deal with them says more about our attitude to change than to what is actually happening. 

Some people embrace change, even seek it out but others would do absolutely anything for things to remain the same?  We are all different.

However, just because you find change difficult doesn’t mean it always has to be that way.

People who love change are often envied but too much of a good thing can also be a problem.  If we are too quick to chop and change without giving due consideration to what we are doing next we can still end up in hot water.  This can mask a fear of commitment or refusal to face difficulties.  It could be just a way of running away from situations rather than dealing with them.  However, over time it will become apparent that these issues will follow you as the one thing you can’t leave behind is yourself.

Why do we fear change?  Well, it is a natural part of our inbuilt security system – our Ego!  The Ego’s job is to keep us safe, maintain the status quo, stay where we are and where things are familiar – better the devil you know, if you like.  This is why people create the same patterns of behaviour even when they move jobs, homes, countries or even relationships.  How many times have we seen a friend leave one disastrous relationship with someone who clearly is not good for them only to find the same type again and again?

Life is Change – a natural cycle of transitions.  Change is all around us.
Night turns into day, the seasons roll round the year, the moon waxes & wanes, the tide ebbs and flow.  All part of life.  We are the only species on the planet that resists it.  Plants & animals all accept this is how it is and adapt their behaviour to suit the situation.  They know when to grow and push forward, they know when to retreat and conserve energy.

We can alter our fear about change by realising that it is happening all around us, all of the time.  Life is a series of transitions, some little, some big! 

The biggest problem about change is our anticipation of it.  This is perfectly natural.  If we can understand that it is OK for us to feel uncomfortable with new things then it can help us to stay with it and not run back to what is familiar.  We feel unprepared for the unknown, there is not yet a framework to hold us. 

A time of change is actually a point of great opportunity.  You are between 2 worlds, the familiar and the unfamiliar.

There are 3 stages to our typical reaction to the process of change:
1. Resistance/Reaction – even when change is welcome and sort after this happens to some degree.  Change can throw up all kinds of anxieties and insecurities so if we are aware of this we are better prepared for this temporary period of discomfort.
2. Adjust/Explore – we start to research our new situation, make new connections and patterns.  This is the settling in period and is the time of maximum effort.  The more you can embrace this bit the better.
3. Relaxing/Accepting – we often fail to see this as a stage as it feels like nothing is happening.  It is when we see the new as old or familiar.  A time of comfort and security – until the next change!

So once we’ve gone through this we think we’ve got there but in reality the process of change never stops.  Once we accept that change is part of life then it comes as less of a shock it next happens.

A better way to approach change, especially if you are a naturally change resistance person, is it embrace it or seek it out even.  It is going to happen anyway, to a greater or lesser extent.  Be excited about it, look for ways that you can engage with it rather than be dragged kicking and screaming into this new phase.

Susan Jeffers in her famous book “Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway” tells us that fear is a natural reaction to something unfamiliar and that it will never go away if we seek to learn and grow.  If we learn to welcome it as an indicator that we are progressing in our life, and literally feel the fear but act anyway, then we can stop being hindered by it.

So when you feel like a fish out of water, be glad as it means you are growing and exploring new things.  There have been many times in the past when you have felt the same way and you acclimatised to these over time.

I treat at lot of people who are ‘stuck’ and often it is because they are either resisting change that is happening to them or where they are in their life is not serving them but they refuse to recognise it.  Having your head in the sand will only work short-term, even for ostriches!

Some tips to help the process of change go more smoothly:
1. There is never the Perfect Time to do anything.
2. Let go of expectations as to the outcome – it may be better!
3. You can change again – nothing is set in stone.
4. See the Ego as a frightened child and quieten this negative voice inside as you would another.
5. Let go of worry & catastrophising – it may never happen.
6. It is not all down to you – get help.
7. Things don’t have to be done perfectly – just have a go.
8. Do it in bite size pieces – Rome wasn’t built in a day.
It is your choice – even if it feels like you have no choice you can always choose how you respond to a seemingly impossible situation.

 “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
– Wayne Dyer

Reader Comments (3)

Great article Mel - love the quote at the end.

By Vikky Clarke on Friday, March 15, 2013

This a really good article Mel and so relevant to my current circumstaces!!

By Lynda Pedley on Sunday, March 17, 2013

really lovely and comforting article! so true about the way we look at things, thankyou x

By ellie on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

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