When I was in college I had a small square message torn out of a magazine and tacked on my bulletin board that said Change Is Bad in large bold letters. I can’t remember what the advertisement was for, probably some salad dressing or car company, but the message was clear status quo is the way to go. Stick with what you know, don’t think outside the box, don’t try something new, what you are doing is just fine, comfortable.
How sad to be so stuck and unwilling, completely closed to any beautiful opportunities life might have offered me. Even today change is hard and therefore, sometimes feels bad. My own insecurities can rear their ugly heads and make me stumble, or even fall. But with time I have noticed that I don’t fall as hard or as quickly. That’s good change.
Today I know my best chance for success and continued forward progress is by accepting life on life’s terms and using the one thing in me that never changes, my spirituality. Faith makes life and change softer, even easier. Knowing that God and the universe are much bigger than me brings me comfort and provides a safe place to turn when my human instincts tell me to run and hide from all things that even evoke the slightest hint at change. I know I will be taken care of and I am never alone.
Life and circumstances are constantly changing right before our eyes. It’s what makes this beautiful world go around. But all change even those that are for the better can bring discomfort and uncertainty. So how can we not only accept the changes that are out of our control, but also embrace those changes that we initiate ourselves. Here are five ways you can make change easier.
1. Focus on the positive. In times of change we have a tendency to dwell on the negative. Look for the bright spots in the situation, the silver linings, anything that is more positive than the worst negatives. Even in the darkest of times, when life has really beaten you down, your whole being can change with a simple shift towards focusing on the bright spot. For example, your doctor has just told you that your numbers aren’t good and you need to lose weight or you will be heading for diabetes, higher blood pressure or heart disease. Pretty depressing right. You have tried to “get healthy” before and it has never stuck.
All you can think about while you are in the doctor’s office are the things you won’t be able to eat anymore. Shifting that focus to the things you can do, like spending more time outside walking the dogs, playing football with your kids or gardening to get your exercise will make that change much less negative and therefore easier to digest. Find the bright spots in your circumstances. Ask yourself, what can I do right now that is helpful, or what am I doing that is working? Every change will eventually bring good to your life, even if you can’t see it now.
2. Assess your environment. Take a look at not only your physical environment or living space but all of the areas where you spend time. Who are the people at home and at work that will be supportive of you during whatever change you are facing? Where can I go that is safe and provides comfort? This could be your Jacuzzi tub or the lunchroom in your office where you get to be with your two best co-workers who provide you with honest and open feedback about the circumstances in your life.
Also, look for things in your environment that are not helpful or supportive, and doing your best to eliminate or change them. Maybe if you are trying to change the amount of electronic exposure in your life, moving your laptop, ipad or cell phone to low traffic rooms might be helpful versus having them on the kitchen counter for easy access. If you need to create boundaries for a better work/home life balance, then creating a more organized workspace in your office for more efficiency while you are there, might be a first step.
3. Use your self-control wisely. Some fascinating behavioral research has shown that self-control is exhaustible, meaning it is possible to use it all up during a tough day at work or in half of a day during summer vacation with the kids home. This is important because all change requires various degrees of self-control. Distract yourself when you feel like you are losing self-control. Go for a walk, write a note to a friend or drink a big glass of water.
Although we cannot control all of the outside forces in our lives we do have control over how we act and the words we use with others and with ourselves. Developing good relaxation skills is critical to your self-control development. Learn how to relax, develop your prayer life, practice meditation or take yoga. Be careful not to pile on too many changes at once. If you have changes in your life that are out of your control, be cautious about adding in optional changes. Remember small, slow changes are lasting.
4. Time is on your side. Change gets easier the more you do it. You are resilient and strong and if you are willing to face the change and work through it your brain will remember it. Like a tiny little file cabinet in your head, our mind keeps track of all the changes you go through and how you handled it. When the next one comes you can recall what happened with the last change and remind yourself that you got through it. For example if you just lost your job and are facing all of the challenges that come with that, you can remember how you got this job in the first place after being unemployed for six months. You persevered through those tough times and until you found a new career.
“Reinforce the strength of your Change Muscle by creating a Change Resume™, a private document that lists all of the changes that you’ve already lived through. Include changes big and small—from switching schools or moving to a new city to surviving a serious accident or getting divorced. Every change, both positive and challenging, will strengthen your Change Muscle and help you get through the change you’re experiencing today—and the changes you will certainly face in the future” (First 30 Days). Practice doing change a little better today, and with time it will become automatic.
5. Acceptance is the answer. The worst thing you can do for yourself is resist change. When we accept the changes that occur in our world and inside of us there is less conflict and pain. Resisting change, big or small, likens us to the salmon swimming desperately upstream, when all we really needed was right on the shoreline in front of us. Clinging to our old ways or familiar environments causes internal struggles and is a huge barrier to the freedom that change can bring.
We are always able to adjust to new circumstances. When you feel the resistance happening stop and ask yourself why? What emotional barriers are causing this resistance? What am I afraid of? When you learn to take these types of personal inventories you can evaluate the root causes for the resistance and work to eliminate them.
Be open to what the universe is planning for you! Is will be a beautiful process and you will learn and grow. Think about the disadvantages of your status quo. What small step could you take today to make a change.
As usual, let me know your thoughts. And don’t forget to share this article with your friends on Facebook and Pin It on Pintrest!