John F. Kennedy once said, “The one unchangeable certainty is that nothing is certain or unchangeable.”
Have you ever found yourself in a position where change was inevitable? You may have felt annoyed, frustrated, or even scared about how that part of your life was going to change. Maybe you felt trapped—the change was going to happen whether you liked it or not.
Since my last article I have had a number of unexpected events, occurrences and revaluations. The short version of this is my laptop stopped working, no internet service for a week, lost passwords, could not accept a couple of assignments, could not do my radio show (all of my music is on my laptop), and finally since I do not have cable I use AppleTV which was out because of no internet. Needless to say I did not have the resources alleviate these issues. I was overload with panic and fear. What can I do? Why is this happening to me? You know the negative drill. After about one day of feeling like this I realized that I could not stay in this place with these emotions and feelings, as this energy would just feed on itself and get worse. (Specifically what did I do, is at the end of this article.)
For as many sayings as there are about how life is always changing, most of us often struggle with the reality of change itself. It is no wonder, as the skill of holding onto ourselves with nothing solid beneath us remains untested ground no matter how often we experience it. Self-preservation is a strong survival instinct. When we are threatened, we puff up our chests and bare our teeth to defend our position, property and point of view. But one great paradox of humanity is that our self-preservation requires adaptation. We have to change in order to remain. Intuitively, we know that the process of change and where it will lead is not really ours to control, so that even the big life changes we initiate often require a magnitude of surrender that we cannot anticipate.
As we have all long suspected, our neurological wiring is geared toward consistency. Our brains want and need stability so much that we often create it erroneously. Recent reports demonstrate how our social and political affiliations blind us to our own inconsistencies. Therefore, If there is any truly effective preparation for change, it begins with our mind. On a practical level, this means witnessing the truth. About 95 percent of the 60,000 thoughts we are estimated to have each day are the same ones we had yesterday and the day before that. Repetitive thinking is not a friend to change.
If we are not able to change our minds, we lose in so many ways. Emotional story lines become grudges that separate you sometimes for decades from people you love. New experiences, from taste to technology, become something to avoid instead of relish. Worse still, when life’s biggest changes come to shake up the world as we know it, our minds are often too rigid to respond. Traumas and tragedies of all kinds from natural disasters, the random hand of illness, and freak accidents fill the news every day. A life that is not trained to be open to change through the cultivation of flexibility has no resilience to fall back on when unpredictable life events occur. In fact, the only way to be open to change is to give up our resistance to it. This letting go is the easiest and hardest thing in the world to accomplish.
But what if you were to undergo a paradigm shift and begin to view change as opportunity? Read on for some mind-expanding, eye-opening ways to regard change as opportunity in your life:
Accept the idea of change. When you get comfortable with the idea that change is going to happen, it will help you go into new changes with less stress. Change will, in essence, always be occurring. Recognizing this fact will make life easier for you. Viewing change as progress, recognizing there will be unknowns, and embracing the newness of change will help you get ready for change. If you shift how you regard changes, you will feel more comfortable with them.
Tell yourself that you can adjust to change. The fact is that you’ve probably experienced hundreds of changes so far over your lifetime. And you’ve adjusted to them. You’ve worked things out. You’ll be able to adjust to more changes in the future.
Recognize that change introduces unknowns into your life. The aspect of change that probably shakes you up the most is that it introduces unknown factors. It can be a bit discombobulating to not know what could be coming your way. Still, the unknown aspect of change must be acknowledged.
Be ready to experience the “newness” that change brings. If you can shift your thinking from a focus on the unknown to recognizing that change involves “newness”—new things, people, places, and ideas—with at least some of it bringing excitement.
Believe that change can be transformative. You could be exposed to better products, knowledge, skills even people as results of change. Many changes also have great aspects that open up your life in ways you had not imagined before. Your experience at work or home—wherever the change occurs—can transform your life for the better.
Notice that a wider array of choices often accompanies change. Along with change often come more options. A whole new world opens up, in a sense. You are in a position to take advantage of new choices.
View change as “the spice of life.” There’s an old saying based on something the poet, William Cowper, wrote that states, “Variety is the spice of life.” If you can apply that attitude to how you see change, your whole approach to it will be different.
What did I do to change my mindset from fear and negativity to just going with the flow. First, I prayed for assistance and guidance. Next, I thoroughly cleaned my house. Something I had not taken time to do and for me cleaning is very therapeutic. I went on more walks, which always clears my head (and I lost a couple of pounds.). I meditated more and longer. I spend time in nature. I read a lot and most importantly I spent more time with friends and family. All things I would not have done if I where on my workaholic treadmill. Most importantly, I learned that when things seem to be falling apart they are really coming together.
REPRINT OF MY MONTHLY COLUMN: Capital City Hues Newspaper, Art of Life column September 2017