[I orginally wrote this in 2011 during an especially difficult time. I've left the tense as I wrote it. It's just as appropriate for handling challenges and stress as it is for handling change.]
I have been through a great amount of change in the last four years and consequently, I have changed—or rather, emerged. Although change is constant, sometimes we don’t notice it. Other times the change is a radical upheaval and it’s tough to keep our footing. What I’ve just been through is a four-year upheaval and it seems it is not quite over just yet. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- Change gives us an opportunity to face our fears. When a change is about to occur, we often feel it coming in our inner self before it actually happens. Something just feels “off” or we become aware of our true feelings about a job, a relationship and we know that “something has got to change”. As we become aware that change is inevitable, we’re often afraid. Afraid of losing what we have and the biggie: Afraid of stepping into the Unknown. Facing our fears means acknowledging them, being honest about them. Allowing them to have a voice but not giving them decision-making abilities.
- Stay in the middle of the river. Allow the flow of life to carry us gently downstream. The middle of the river is where it’s deepest and by resisting the temptation to try to swim to shore or grab something to hold on to, we avoid injury, frustration and impeding our own progress. The best thing we can do when navigating change is to accept what’s happening (because it is happening) and allow ourselves to go through the process. We are already going through it anyway and fighting it will only cause harm to ourselves and make things even more difficult.
- Nurture yourself through a practice of radical self-care. Change brings stress, even if we are excited about the change. There is stress that fuels us and energizes us and there is stress that depletes us and de-energizes us. Practicing excellent self-care cuts down the de-energizing stress and rejuvenates us. It also reduces the chance of burnout that energizing stress can cause if it remains unchecked. And when you don’t know what to do, as often happens during a change, practicing excellent self-care often produces more clarity and relaxation. Stay alert and honest about true feelings as they are a compass pointing the direction. Be clear and aware of your choices. What are you resisting? What are you avoiding? Above all, do not over analyze or beat yourself up about anything—that’s always counterproductive.
- Embrace the moment. One of the most helpful things I learned was this. Each moment, no matter how awful it may seem has something beautiful in it, even it is only the sound of our own breath or heartbeat. If we can look under all the layers to find the beauty in the moment, than we have truly gained eyes to see and glimpsed the Divine. The Divine of the moment, we realize, is our own divinity shining back to us. For we can only see it if we first recognize it in ourselves. It is then that we see and recognize Love and Grace as the basis of the Universe and can embrace it for wholly what it is.
- Set an Intention. Once we accept and allow the change, we can set an intention. I’m not talking about deciding what we want. I’m talking about setting an intention of Being. In other words, we tune our selves in to the flow and set our intentions along with what the change has been teaching us. For instance, the change I’ve been going through has taught me to pay attention to my true feelings and what they’re trying to tell me. I’ve realized they are usually trying to tell me what I need. I intend to take responsibility for my feelings as well as my needs and the things I tend to neglect. I intend to be more honest with myself about my true feelings and choose not to go along with things I don’t agree with. I intend to not be so afraid of expressing my anger, disappointment, etc. I intend to be honest about my truth. My intention is to be loving and kind to myself, to acknowledge my value, to recognize that my reaction to everything that happens outside of myself is a reflection of my inner state and belief system.