“The butterfly that makes a home of its cocoon will never fly.” Rev Deborah L. Johnson
FROM the time we were conceived, to the present moment, we have literally experienced a vast number of changes, transitions and transformations in each and every area of our being and life. These include changes in your body, mind, emotions, spirit and various life situations.
If you think about it for a minute, the you that existed at age 2, is not the you that existed at age 10 and the same is true for every age and stage. The way you looked, the way you processed information, your perception, your understanding of self and life, your preferences, interests and desires all evolved with each phase and experience you engaged in.
Additionally, everything around us is also subject to change, including nature, dominant ideologies, systems, structures and so on and so on. This is why Haraclitus, Greek philosopher said, “Change is the only constant in life.”
Now, if we agree with Haraclitus that change is the only constant in life, we can also agree that change is extremely important to the sustenance and advancement of all of life.
Without the agent of change, all of life would literally stand still. If we never experienced any form of change in our entire life experience, we would essentially stay the same and life as we know it would also be the same.
How frustrating and debilitating such an existence would be If change did not exist, we would be denied of the experience of a rich and dynamic life.
Change serves to help us continuously experience our infinite nature, thereby causing us to grow, expand and evolve. It is through the agent of change and various life transformations that we are able to explore and discover life in a variety of ways.
In light of this, we can therefore conclude that change is in fact an integral aspect of our lives and is essential for our very existence to continue.
If change is in fact this important, why then do we then struggle and fight with it?
“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”- Gail Sheehy.
In my line of work, clients generally come to me to help them embrace and navigate naturally occurring changes in their relationships, self, finances, career and other areas of life.
In most cases, based on my observation, our struggle with change usually occurs because of three main (3) reasons:
1. A Misunderstanding of impermanence
2. Our Comfort Zones
3. An apprehension of the unknown
1. Misunderstanding of impermanence
As mentioned earlier, from the time we are conceived we begin changing at a rapid rate, moving from fetus to baby, infancy to childhood, adolescence to adult.
Each of these phases and stages are made up of various components and encounters, including new information, expanded awareness, people, situations and things, all designed to facilitate our experience at that stage.
Once the purpose of that stage is aptly satisfied, such as the desired learning and growth, we are then meant to seamlessly transition to the next stage or experience.
Transitioning however, often requires some letting go of perspectives, behaviors, relationships and situations, which understandably, once served us in the previous stage but no longer aids in our development.
It’s similar to the transition we made from primary school to secondary school. Before we could move on to secondary school, we had to let go of our primary school experience, which included, the uniforms we once wore, the books we studied, the approach to learning, our teachers and yes even some friends, who were once an integral part of that stage.
This letting go was necessary and integral to prepare us for the next stage of our education journey. We had to let go of what was to make room for what was to come.
Letting go is extremely important to facilitate each life transition, however, it is what we struggle with the most. We battle with ourselves and others about the impermanence of our life situations, because we fail to grasp the bigger picture of why and the significance of change in our lives.
Sub-consciously and even consciously we may believe that things shouldn’t have to change and should stay the same. That we should be able to keep all the things, people and situations that we have grown accustomed to and in some instances attached to. That we should be able to navigate the next phase of our lives with the same perspectives and behaviors. But will that work?
Every component of our life, including the people, things, situations, beliefs, choices and behavior patterns, all serve to facilitate and co-create our desired experience. This co-creative experience, however, is all dependent on all factors being in alignment with each other.
What this means is, all the people, things, situations, beliefs, choices and behavior patterns must be in congruence with your desired experience, for them to continue with you along your journey.
This dynamic is often recognizable in relationships, where individuals connect based on similarities, shared interests and perspectives, at one phase of their life but sometimes later disconnect because they are evolving differently.
We often misinterpret these naturally occurring and necessary experiences as negative and fight against the transition. However, if we remind ourselves of the importance of change in our lives, we may find that our transitions, even if it requires letting go of a relationship, a person, thing or situation, may be easier. Thereby allowing for something new and better serving and more aligned to evolve and occur.
2. Your Comfort Zone
Another reason we fight with change has to do with our reluctance to step outside of our comfort zone.
As mentioned previously, in each phase of our journey we attract, align and adopt people, things, situations, beliefs, behaviors etc., which serves to facilitate and co-create the experience we are desiring at that stage. When that stage is over, we are meant to then progress to the next experience.
As we engage and interact with these co-creative components, we naturally develop a level of familiarity and comfort that we become used to having in our lives. We become habituated to the certainty and security of what is familiar. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, so to speak, if not managed, as it relates to change, it can lead to being stuck and stagnant, which prevents life from naturally flowing though us.
The key to not being limited by your comfort zone is to develop our flexibility and adaptability muscles. Often, we get stuck in a routine or pattern of doing things the same way. This creates a habit of seeing life in a fixed way, which can then cause us turmoil when life inevitably changes.
A few ways you can counteract this pattern include: consciously changing your daily routine from time to time, engaging with people outside of your inner circle, listening to music and reading books from other genres or even watching a movie you may not otherwise view.
These simple actions implemented over time will help you to be more open to stepping outside of your comfort zone and being flexible and adaptable to your changes in your life.
3. Apprehension of the unknown
Our mind is a tool, designed to help us experience the world. One of the protective features of the mind is to safeguard us from certain situations by suggesting thoughts that will cause us to assess our current circumstances, to essentially avoid danger.
Because the mind’s scope of awareness is limited to acquired information, which was derived from one’s experience directly or indirectly, any unfamiliar or unknown experience triggers its protective feature.
This occurrence is usually experienced as fear-based thoughts and related emotions, which then becomes the reasons why we resist change.
The truth is, many of us are unaware of this happening within ourselves and as such stay frozen in fear about the unknown, without realizing that we don’t have to.
Change naturally causes us to go beyond what we already know and what we have already experienced. This is how we grow and evolve. It is therefore inevitable that we will encounter situations where we have no knowledge or immediate resources to deal with it. This of course does not mean that we won’t learn what is required. This is essentially how we have managed to navigate and master all of our previous phases.
One way of overcoming the mind’s protective ability to safeguard us from the unknown is through awareness. When we become aware of the fear because of imminent changes in our lives, we become empowered to see it for what it is and to make an informed choice of how to move forward.
We are never guaranteed about the future, especially, when we step into unknown territory. However, the one thing we can be sure of based on our past experience is that things always work out for our highest good.
Reminding ourselves of this fact when faced with fear of the unknown, helps to reassure the mind that everything will be okay and helps you to embrace the incoming change.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. “ -Allan Watts
Life is a magical journey, filled with many ebbs and flows, ups and downs, ins and outs, sideways and byways, all mixed into one beautiful adventure. Change is the ingredient which enables us to experience it in a fun, dynamic and engaging way.
Learning to become friends with change, transition and transformation will make life more enjoyable and a lot easier, as we continue to grow and evolve.