This is the season for changes. Time shifts backwards. The air cools. The rain comes. The leaves turn.
So are the days of our lives.
A lot of things shifted in my life recently. When I say “a lot” I mean pretty much every aspect of my life. When I say “shift” I mean like seismic. Some really suck, but most of them are for the good. But what is interesting is even the good changes require a dramatic readjustment to our lives.
Most of us prefer certainty. We are comforted by routine, and knowing that things are consistent. We cling to a sense of stability. So even when positive changes happen, it upsets the status quo.
Because I am in the thick of it–and struggling to be perfectly honest–I decided to create a game plan: some anchors I can hold onto while everything is in motion.
Acknowledging that life is in transition is the first step. When the panic or anxiety that things are not the same kicks in, validating that as truth can provide the first space for us to breathe. Have you ever had something terrible happen, and someone negates it by saying something like, “it’s not so bad,” or “things happen for a reason?” Although meant to comfort us, comments like that really only piss us off. But if someone says, “Yes, this is awful,” or “Yes, this is hard,” doesn’t just that first affirmation take a load off?
So own it. Name the feeling. Acknowledge what is happening.
Things are not going to stay the same. We are going to have to do some letting go. Maybe we will just have to let go of little things we were used to, like “coffee time” in the morning. But maybe we will have to actually let go of bigger things that we really love. As you move through the changes and have to let go of things you love, honor the process by grieving the loss. When you feel tearful, cry. Trying to be strong by suppressing or denying our pain, anger or sadness actually keeps us stuck. Allowing ourselves to grieve fully moves us through the hard parts faster.
3. LEAN IN
Our first response to change is similar to our instinctual response to danger: punch someone in the face or run for the hills. (or is that just me??)
The first big shifts are just the beginning shockwave for what is going to be an evolutionary process. I know, this is not reassuring. But resistance is futile and rigidity will break us. So when you feel that fight or flight tension freeze up in your core, lean into it. Rather than allowing the changes to beat against us like a chisel on stone, be the river flowing through the rock. Transitions are the stepping-stones toward transformation. (Now, that IS reassuring!)
When you find yourself dwelling on the negative parts of change, take a moment to imagine the possibilities and opportunities that may be on the horizon. Some years into the future you will look back and say, if that didn’t happen, these other amazing things would not have happened. This has been proven to me time and again. “Terrible” changes happened that shifted the whole course of my life, and I thank the heavens that they did. So these changes today, that I dread, I know I will someday be grateful for.
So that is my game plan. I will be checking in on this process daily over the course of the next few months. The leaves are going to fall. Things are going to die. By Spring, I will be in a different space and we will know then how I weathered it.
If you have any other tips for how to embrace change gracefully, please share them in the comments. I really can use all the wisdom I can get!