Everything that surrounds us is undergoing constant change. Some of those changes are easily apparent – our favorite restaurant unexpectedly shuts down, people get older – but internal changes can be a bit more tricky.
Sometimes when we go through internal changes, even if they’ve been years in the making, it may seem that those changes happened over night and it can leave us with an intriguing confusion.
Lately, I’ve noticed that what I want and the way that I interact with my wants has changed. Because those changes have led to differences in my behavior it has made me feel the need to sit down with the changes and try to be present with them.
And…it has been tough. It has been tough to sit with those changes because my initial reaction is to want to understand them, to place them in a nice box with a label, a label that will leave me feeling sure and safe, more in the ‘know.’
It is a desire to want to have complete control of those changes so that I don’t lose control of myself.
The changes that we experience as we grow can be scary, especially when we are aware of how those changes are molding our edges into curves, or coloring us in shades that we do not recognize.
Change is not unique to anyone; change is an inevitable, sometimes scary but always necessary, fact of life that occurs to us all. And, because that change can feel intimidating sometimes, I want to offer you what I’ve learned through this part of my journey.
1. Refrain from judgement. When we are aware that we are changing in a significant way there is a temptation to want to assign a judgment on that change. Is this a good thing? Is it bad?
When we rush to try to judge and classify the way we are changing we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to experience the change as it is happening. We want to judge in order to either justify the change or to block it. This takes away from our ability to let it be, to experience it.
2. Be open to uncomfortableness. Internal changes that lead to differences in our behavior can instigate many feelings: joy, shame, guilt, pleasure, melancholy, etc. Some of these emotions are uncomfortable; they’re difficult to experience and it is easier to shut them down, rather than feel them.
Change is uncomfortable but it also leads to growth. We cannot work through the changes if we are not open to the uncomfortableness. If we want to explore these changes, then we are required to be present with the whole experience, including the uncomfortable parts.
3. Make peace with not understanding. When we are in the midst of change, clarity is not necessarily at the forefront of that change; more often than we’d like, it doesn’t even make a split appearance in the beginning. Sometimes we will not understand what triggered change, why it is occurring, what it means. This goes back to the fear of lack of control. When we don’t understand internal change the threat is that we are not in control of ourselves.
Understanding change comes, but only after we let it be, after we end our attempts in trying to stifle change. The more we fight change because we lack understanding, the longer it takes to actually understand our experience. We must trust that in being with change clarity will appear.
4. Be compassionate with yourself. Internal changes are challenging. They require you to show up for yourself in ways that take much effort and energy and it can be frustrating. Be compassionate with yourself, be kind to yourself throughout your process.
If you find yourself lacking patience, feeling frustrated, don’t take it out on yourself. Redirect the frustrated energy into creating something that fills you, whether that be art, music, helping others, etc. Don’t beat yourself through change; aim to be as supportive with yourself as you would with those closest to you.
What changes have you experienced lately, either external or internal? How do you work through change?