If you read my last blog, I shared how every change begins with a transition, and I offered three practical ways to navigate the inevitably chaotic time of transition. Here’s a little refresher:
- Create rituals : acknowledge your transitions by doing things to help you say goodbye to the end of one thing before you enter into the beginning of the next thing.
- Heighten self-care and seek pleasure : find comfortable, familiar places or people and take care of yourself– enjoy a manicure or more sleep–all of which can make you feel more in control.
- Practice AS IF the change has already happened : envision your life after the change, seeing the best possible outcome!
These are all actions we can take to not merely survive but to thrive during transition. But, I understand that, sometimes, the change is so drastic that we can barely get ourselves out of bed–much less invest the time and energy into performing the perfect ritual, talking to others about what we’re experiencing, or actively thinking about the future. Maybe you’ve lost your spouse or maybe you just received a shocking medical diagnosis. These are changes that can be debilitating. And this is when you must pay special attention to your state of mind.
If you find yourself in a time of extremely painful changes, let me urge you to wait to act and instead take however long you need to simply be. Remember the five stages of grief? Depression, denial, bargaining, anger, acceptance. Be right where you are.
When the past feels too painful to keep thinking about and the future too uncertain to imagine, the best place for you to be is in the here and now. All you do have control over is your attitude. Be intentionally present through mindfulness, meditation, or prayer. Practice gratitude. Try considering everything you still have and either writing it down in a journal or speaking it aloud. Change is a loss of something, but remind yourself of the many things you still have to be grateful for right now.
Think of a buoy in the ocean… it is fluid and adaptable and even though it is anchored to the earth, it is not stuck. Instead, it lets go, allowing itself to be moved by the changing current.
If you do not resist it, you will find more peace in the process. And guess what? Just like the buoy, the more adaptable you are, the more successful you will become in life. Life is really not a perfectly straight line but more like a squiggly line moving every which way. The more agile and quickly adaptable you are, the more easily you will navigate change.
Adjusting to change takes time–especially those changes that are painful and completely life-altering. So, be kind to yourself! The changes of life are hard, and you don’t need to pretend that they are not. Give yourself time to grieve. Be patient with yourself and be authentic with your feelings, not forcing yourself to conceal how you’re doing. You must learn to be OK with not being OK.
Change always comes with the unknown, and the unknown causes fear. So, be brave. You are stronger than you think you are. Even if you’re experiencing your biggest life alteration right now, you have experienced smaller changes along the way. And you know what? You’re still here. Were those changes hard? Is this change hard? Yes. But will you survive? Yes! Remind yourself that you survived and draw upon your strength. But what about the fear? I say advance toward it because fear gets bigger the faster we run from it. Mark Twain once said, “do the thing you fear the most, and the death of fear is certain.”
Change happens– some we choose and some choose us. But you know what you can always choose? How you respond and the way that you simply be during this time.
So, choose to be present in the moment, to go with the flow, to be okay with not being okay, and to conquer fear with bravery.
Someone once said “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” The reaction you decide to have is mainly what will determine the course of your life–not what happens to you! The choice is yours. Choose well.