Change. How does that word make you feel? Most commonly it seems to invoke feelings of stress, anxiety and fear. Many people find change very difficult to deal with and interestingly that seems to be equally true whether the change is self-initiated or forced upon us. Heraclitus of Ephesus observed around 2500 years ago that "change is the only constant in life", so the concept of change as something we will have to deal with throughout our lives is not exactly new to humanity, why is it that we still struggle with it so much?
The simple answer is uncertainty. Change inevitably involves a degree of uncertainty, even when it is an alteration that we are choosing to make. So that then raises the question why are we generally so uncomfortable with uncertainty? Life is inherently uncertain after all. Why do we put so much time and energy into trying to control the uncontrollable rather than embracing and rejoicing in the pleasure of whatever each new day brings?
Ultimately that comes down to this flawed model based in scarcity, competition and ego that we have built our society on. As long as you feel like the only way to be successful is by 'beating' others, that you are constantly competing with everyone else for a limited pile of scarce resources, and that if you don't have the right job, right house and right car you are a 'failure', then of course uncertainty and the idea that what you have today might not be the same tomorrow can be terrifying. To further exacerbate that, change and uncertainty means feeling vulnerable, and we have been taught to equate vulnerability with weakness and inadequacy.
What we really need to address this is a fundamental shift in the way we think and behave as a society. We see this starting to happen in various small ways but we still have a long way to go. As individuals we should take any steps we can towards creating a world that is kinder, more generous, more abundant in it's thinking and no longer worships material possessions. We can each choose at any time to stop buying into the standard western way of life. We can choose different priorities and a different perspective.
When you embrace vulnerability you realise what incredible strength that actually gives you. Vulnerability is how we learn and grow. When you get comfortable with making yourself vulnerable by putting yourself into new situations, trying new things and taking chances your world blossoms with opportunities.
It is only by embracing the risk of failure; the risk of 'being wrong' and 'looking stupid', that you can acquire new skills and discover your potential. It is by opening up to change, allowing yourself to be vulnerable and receptive to what is happening that you can find the opportunities and realise the benefits from any situation. Whether it is a change you are choosing to make for yourself such as improving food choices to lose weight or improve your health, leaving an unhealthy or abusive relationship or changing career path, or a change that is being thrust upon you by external forces, such as the loss of a loved one, or redundancy or restructure in the workplace, the choices you make about whether you work with or fight the shift that is occurring in your life will be what ultimately determines whether that change has a constructive or destructive effect on you.
When change comes your way make a concerted effort to open yourself to what is happening rather than closing down and resisting it. Allow yourself to feel and then release whatever emotions arise. Don't wallow in them and allow them to consume you, but don't deny them either. Talking or writing about them can be a useful way to process and release them. Change is natural and healthy, and when you think about it a life with no change would be a pretty dull and depressing existence really wouldn't it?
What tips do you have for embracing and making the most of change, even those changes that at first glance might seem sad or frightening? We'd love you to share your thoughts and experiences below.