It is a reality most of us aren’t very good at handling significant change in our lives. We do a fine job with minor changes and usually handling them easily. It’s the big changes, like redundancy, ill health and divorce, which are often thrust upon us and have a greater impact on our lives that we struggle with. These demand incredible energy, determination and time to manage, get used to and accept and can even need the help of others to cope with.
‘A change is as good as a rest’ describes our ability to manage and even enjoy most changes for a short time simply because we know it’s limited. Make the change permanent and we can perceive life as being hard going, even overwhelming, mentally, emotionally and physically.
There is also a misguided belief that change is somehow an ‘optional extra’ in life. We can keep things ‘the same’, ignoring change if we want to, whilst at some level knowing life moves on and change is guaranteed. This internal conflict creates a tension within us that makes the idea of change in our lives something we are fearful, even terrified, of and try to avoid. We project into the future and live in a world of fearful outcomes. As Mark Twain said, “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened!” It’s no wonder many of us use lots of energy trying to keep things, everything, the same.
Change is an inevitability of life – like the sun rising, tides turning, death and taxes. It’s the scale of change, how it happens and your perception of change that is crucial to your overall wellbeing! Trying to ignore change is a fool’s errand.
Although it can be hard to cut old ties and leave behind the habits, places, and people you’ve become used and accustomed to, it’s always useful to remind yourself whilst familiarity is comforting it also breeds contempt and often for good reasons! Look at the life you are living now. Do you really want absolutely everything to stay the same? Are you certain all the things you are going to leave behind really that amazing and great?
We do like keeping things the same. Maybe we even love it. Stability is necessary for our survival. After all, part of the role of our ego is to protect us by keeping our patterns the same so we have the same results. The ‘what happened yesterday worked so let’s repeat it today’ approach. Too much of anything though is never good for us. We also need stimulation and challenge to thrive and grow otherwise we wither, become scared of new experiences and our world grows smaller and ever more fearful. Our comfort zone shrinks.
Isn’t it great news the ego can be fooled though and will quickly adopt new habits when you make the changes so that those new habits become the new safe zone to live your life from?
Despite some changes in your life being beyond your control and others within it, it’s how you see change and are able to respond to change that makes the difference to your life.
Along with change sometimes feeling overwhelming and taking time and effort to assimilate, it is also exciting, life-affirming and rewarding. It is an essential part of your life and how your comfort zone expands. By recognising the inevitability of change and embracing it you create the opportunities to experience life on your terms.
Like all new ways of seeing and experiencing the world, accepting and accommodating change as a natural part of the process of life takes time and effort. Getting used to enjoying the small changes of walking along a different street to work, buying your coffee from that new cafe that’s just opened or getting up ten minutes earlier than usual are places to start from. Your comfort zone grows and it’s at the edge of your comfort zone where the magic happens.
Time to change?
Martin Feaver, Contributor & Balance Team Expert
Martin is a Life-Coach and Therapist with over 30 years of experience, specialising in treating professionals through his unique philosophy of the Mind-Body Activation.