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Thriving in Times of Change


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Change vs. Transformation

How do you feel about change? Most of us feel at least a little nervous about change, especially when it’s being pushed on us. I used to have a manager who would say “when the wind changes direction, you just have to adjust your sails.” I remember how I felt when he said that: dismissed, controlled, and even more nervous than I had been before.

And then there’s transformation. It actually means “to change,” but for some reason we think of it as a positive thing. The lowly caterpillar changes into a beautiful butterfly. Free to fly. I’ve always wondered what it feels like to be that caterpillar in a cocoon—I think if it was me I would be scared half to death. In the dark, changing like crazy, and not knowing what was happening.

Or perhaps the butterfly has a knowing, an inner sense that the transformation will lead to something natural, something better. Perhaps that is helpful while hanging from a tree branch, locked inside a cocoon, in the dark. I know, I know, science tells us that butterflies don’t think. But hang in here with me.

Would you feel differently about change if you could have that inner knowing? The certainty that while the change might be uncomfortable, or frightening, that the end result would be marvelous? If you could find a way to have that sense of peace and rightness, your experiences of change would be very different.

Change Isn’t Fun

The sense of dread or fear that comes from unexpected change can be very unsettling. Usually, something bad has happened over which we have no control: death of a loved one, loss of a job, divorce, financial crisis, and so on. Of course, these things are terrible, and your world gets turned upside down.

Sometimes the change is something you wanted: a career change, a new baby, buying a house, relocation to a new area. And then the reality hits, and you find yourself reacting to the changes in a way that surprises you. Even good changes can be very stressful.

It’s also possible to be begging for change, and to feel absolutely stuck. You can’t seem to move forward, to figure out how to move in the direction you have chosen for yourself. You may become frustrated or depressed, and you may lose hope that you will ever achieve your dream.

So how do you become like the caterpillar and know that everything will be just fine? How do you take the steps you need to take to move forward? How do you hang onto hope in the face of pain and disappointment?

It might be time for someone to travel down this path with you.

Find your Travel Buddy

When you’re dealing with change, or wishing for change, it can be easy to isolate yourself. You may not feel like socializing or talking, and find yourself enjoying your own company the most. Or you may think that you are too busy to talk to someone, or you don’t want to burden your friends and family, or, or, or . . . we can come up with so many reasons to suffer alone.

Self-help materials can be a great resource in these times. Books and videos that help you to look at things differently or develop a plan can be very helpful. And the addition of another human being can make a huge difference.

I was recently on a road trip, and I was so grateful for my travel buddy! We had GPS, but he was able to help me find the signs that told me what lane I needed to be in before the GPS let me know, so that I had plenty time to move over. He helped me spot gas stations when it was time for a break, and was able to Google places to eat while I was driving. And he kept me company so I didn’t get too bored or sleepy. The trip would have been very different without him in the passenger seat. And he drove half the way, so I had someone to share the work of driving.

A travel buddy during times of change can do the same things: help you see what needs to happen next, help you find resources, make the journey pleasant, and make sure you’re not doing more than is good for you.

So Where Do You Find Your Travel Buddy?

Of course, you have your friends and family, but often times someone you don’t have a personal relationship with can be the most helpful in difficult times. They can say what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear. There isn’t the emotional risk of talking to someone you’re close to.

You may find your travel companion through your spiritual practice. Your minister/priest/rabbi/prayer partner can often be a source of relief and strength. Twelve-step meetings can be a source of hope and mentoring. Meditation groups, study groups—virtually any person or group who has experience in nurturing those in need can be of great help.

Certified Life Coaches and Licensed Mental Health Professionals can be very helpful during times of change. They have training for helping people to create a better life for themselves by working through issues related to stress, anxiety, depression, relationship problems, career burnout, and many other issues. Coaches can be good accountability partners, checking in with you to see if you are taking the steps you have planned to move forward in your life. Mental Health Professionals can help you heal from the pain from your past that may be holding you back.

Spiritual Life Coaches and Energy Healers can help you to relax, clear your mind, recharge your body, and connect with that which is larger than yourself. They can help you to deeply know yourself, so you can build a life that is truly a fit for you.

If you are experiencing uncomfortable change, find your travel companion. Consider having more than one, as they will each bring different gifts for the journey. Relax, knowing you’re in good hands. You won’t be the same as you were before, but you may learn to fly.

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