The Challenges of Change

Cycles of change may ebb and flow…

Sometimes they provide the stimulation we need to move ahead and grow. Other times they challenge our reserves and even influence our immune systems. When we approach change as an ally, and not necessarily a negative, we can come into partnership with ourselves. Change can ultimately provide us with new opportunities for empowerment and developing skills that may have us, one day, looking back and saying: “In many ways _________ is the best thing that ever happened to me because if it wasn’t for ________ I would not be the person I am today.” Change offers mysterious gifts that may almost seem to have been sent by an unknown messenger from our future that says: “Things will be different but the opportunities can bring a new richness you will not know otherwise.”

How to Meet the Challenges of Change

Change can be challenging. In fact, degrees of stress are often defined as the amount of effort it takes to adapt to ones circumstances. For example, if you graduate from school or have a child, your daily routine will undoubtedly change, as well as your social life and many other activities. It take a certain amount of emotional, mental and physical energy to adapt to change. Even positive change.

If we keep this in mind, we can better support ourselves through times of change. Many times we don’t give ourselves credit for how difficult things can be. Especially if there is a crisis of some sort, many times people assume that once the crisis has passed, life returns to normal. But actually, what happens is that we return to a new life. That new life requires adapting. Even perhaps getting to know ourselves in a new way.

Feeling Our Strength: Trusting Our Intuition

We all have strengths that we have developed over the course of our lives. If we have made it to adulthood, we have inevitably honed coping strategies that help us navigate change cycles (when one change promotes another and another and another.) If we find ourselves dealing with a negative impact of stress on our health or relationships or work (or anything else,) chances are good that we have exceeded our coping skills and need to add to our repertoire. There is no easy answer to figuring out what these may be. It can take some soul searching or the help of a professional -such as therapist, doctor, life coach – or other helping professional to figure things out. Inevitably, it will, at the very least, take some reflection.

Something that can be a key component to navigating the stress of change is having periods of quiet. Whether in prayer, meditation or spending time in nature, when we are still, our intuition can speak to us. This may come in the form of insights, urges, impulses, or sense of knowing or understanding. We may become more in touch with our bodies: physical symptoms can provide clues to what’s happening in our unconscious. These can provide information regarding our needs (physical, emotional or spiritual,) and desires (that which provides fuel and inspiration for moving forward toward greater wholeness.)

Starting Life Anew

Change may be a welcome or unwelcome companion. The degree to which we can meet it, match the challenges it brings with the energy of optimism, believe in ourselves and have faith that we can navigate whatever comes — these will help us feel a greater sense of control and predict a greater positive outcome. There is a saying that many people usually speak with a sense of irony: “That which does not kill you makes you stronger.” Change is not the only thing that can bring strength. But when we do face it, we are likely to learn that we have strengths we would not have known otherwise. We also may have new strengths we would not have known otherwise. Things like compassion, patience, fortitude, a well-crafted delivery of assertiveness, street smarts, self-love — or maybe simply the skill of better balancing our check books. Regardless: we will know ourselves better when we consciously investigate how to develop new coping strategies, whatever these may be. To quote a saying that we often use in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction classes, “As long as you are breathing, there is more that is right with you than there is wrong.” Sometimes change means slowing down enough to notice what this may be. Each new moment is an opportunity to start life anew. Take a deep breath and start now.

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​© 2016 by Denise Dempsey

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