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The Winds of Change

March 16, 2022 | By: Kerri Dool MSW, RSW

Our lives have significantly changed in these past two years, and we continue to be impacted by world events and circumstances beyond our control.

Through the felt pandemic experiences, we have also been forever changed collectively and individually. Some have realized they want more in life. Others want less. Some have decided to leave partners, jobs, get married or start a business. Some have realized that they want to be more involved with their children’s lives and less committed to careers. None of this is a negative thing, and in fact, the impetus to these changes is partly due to the forced experiences that we have had.

Consistency and predictability can be our friends in life and, over time, our greatest foe. There are two sides to this coin. Embracing change, even when we haven’t voluntarily pushed “go” on that button, can often be the best way to find the opportunity that awaits.

So why do we resist the prospect of change so fiercely? The answer can be summed up in one word: Fear.

The Fear of Change

What lies on the other side of change is the unknown and what we might lose through the process. For many, this is simply too great a price to pay. The brain is wired to solve perceived problems, and change can make us think a possible problem exists. It’s natural for our mind to want to go back to old ways of doing things because this is the pattern it recognizes, and there isn’t any discomfort associated with that state of being.

In a way, change is intertwined with our identity. In the process of making changes to our daily habits, our emotional responses or our relationships, it may feel like we are being asked to steal someone else’s identity.

Impersonating a version of ourselves that we have no clue how to be or sustain may feel highly uncomfortable. In turn, we may stall the process of making any actual changes to who we want to become because of what we would be required to admit to ourselves and what we need to do to succeed with this.

Personal Change

If something external to us, such as food or an unhealthy partnership, has been our comfort and our solace during times of stress, it can feel completely overwhelming to give that up or even consider what life would be like without it.

Sometimes we even engage in self-sabotage when attempting to implement a positive change in our lives because we fear failure. By preventing any progress, we avoid the disappointments of not fully realizing our goals. I’ve personally witnessed this with students who don’t study for exams because they are then able to say that ‘they didn’t even study,” so the grades aren’t a true reflection of their intelligence or abilities. They don’t have to be accountable because they never tried in the first place.

This boils down to competence and our need to believe in our abilities. How do we do that? Well, it’s a process, and it involves “putting ourselves out there” in situations that we usually wouldn’t try. Stepping out of our comfort zone allows us to start seeing that we can handle new experiences with greater self-confidence. Part of this starts with our self-talk. If we tell ourselves that we can do something repeatedly, even visualizing being successful at doing it, there is a greater chance we will try that new thing and feel good while we do it.

We don’t always have a clear vision of our future or who we truly want to be, which can sometimes obscure the path of change. It’s imperative to be clear about why we want to make changes in our lives. It’s like getting in your car without a destination. Sometimes that can be fun, but with the price of gas and the wear and tear to your car, it’s not sustainable over time. That’s what making changes to yourself or your life can feel like on your psyche if you aren’t sure what you’re hoping to achieve with a personal change.

Ask yourself: What’s one thing that needs to change in my life and why?

Holding Ourselves Accountable With Love

The good news is that all of this “change” directly relates to time. We aren’t transforming ourselves and the life we choose to live within a week or a month; it’s a process that offers long-term results when smaller, actionable steps are taken daily and with support.

We need to give ourselves more credit for trying, and acknowledge our strengths, showing ourselves acceptance for being who we are in this present moment. Although we want to make some changes, be it to our weight, self-confidence, jobs, or relationships, we need to be aware that it’s an evolution of self. That is something that continues throughout our lifetime.

If we look in the mirror and see ourselves as the same, unchanged person, then that is who we will show up as over and over again. We’ll end up in the same situations with the same people and on the same path in life. If we shift that and start to view ourselves from a place of potential, moving one step forward to the change we wish to see in our lives, change becomes inspired action!

Ask yourself: What’s one small thing that I can start doing differently to change a desired area of my life? How am I going to hold myself accountable for this each day?

Situational Change

The opposite is true as well. Sometimes life throws us curveballs, and life changes very suddenly through circumstances beyond our control. In this regard, change is directly correlated with time. Perhaps a pandemic finds us working from home, or we experience the loss of a loved one, or our financial security is jeopardized.

In those moments when we feel incredibly anxious by all of the uncertainly that change is bringing forward, we can rely on some guiding principles to establish stability within ourselves:

  1. We need consistent routines such as planned meal times, regular sleep, daily walks in nature, and scheduled breaks at work to keep our mind, body and spirit feeling balanced.
  2. Sometimes telling ourselves that “this too shall pass” is a simple yet powerful reminder that the feelings and situation are time-limited.
  3. Protecting our peace of mind is essential. While it’s important to be supportive, we cannot take on everyone else’s problems and responsibilities at every request.
  4. Practicing self-acceptance for where we are at, showing ourselves appreciation for who we are today and encouraging ourselves to keep moving forward helps us feel calmer.
  5. Letting go of the need to control all of the scenarios and outcomes in our lives and “going with the flow”, can reduce life pressures.
  6. We don’t need to “adapt” or “pivot” quickly or compare ourselves to others in this experience. Adjusting to change takes time. It’s important to show ourselves patience and compassion with all the emotions that change brings.
  7. Shifting our perspective can make a massive difference to how we welcome or retreat from change. I challenge you to ask yourself: “What’s one positive outcome that could result from changes in your life?”

Change can be an opportunity to step into becoming the version of ourselves that’s fulfilling, even when the circumstances surrounding the changes are not ideal. Moving out of our comfort zone with these fundamental principles when we find ourselves in the winds of change can take us on a momentous ride of possibility.

 

Warmest Wishes, 

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