Change. It’s a simple word but it can mean so many things to the person experiencing the change. I’ve had many changes in my personal life, changes that were both good and bad. Some change is on time and other changes come at the wrong time. Still, other changes are the result of your desire to change something, while other changes are not.
I used to consider myself a victim of change because at every intersection of my life (graduating from high-school, college graduation, graduate school graduation, my first job, my first relationship, falling in and out of love, walking away from a friendship, getting sick, aging, changing jobs, etc.) I had to change with the change and that meant doing things differently. Many days that also meant seeing things differently and becoming a “student” of life again.
Change can truly make you feel like a newborn baby. Imagine the culture shock a newborn goes through after being in a warm, tight womb for 9-months and then suddenly being removed from this place of safety. Their sweet cries express the culture shock they are feeling at that moment of sudden change. Have you experienced a culture shock of change recently? If so, you’re not alone. That change could be anything from changing jobs, changing homes, relationships, or experiencing something totally different than what you’re use to. It all takes an emotional and psychological toll on you. Believe it or not, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to feel depressed, and it’s certainly okay to feel confused. When I experienced a series of changes about a year ago, the very first thing I experienced the next day was a series of emotions that were nebulous, confused, and all over the place. I had anticipated the change, I even longed for the change at some point. But once it finally came I found myself feeling depressed, stressed, lonely, and confused. A part of me wanted the old way things were, while at the same time I had longed for something different for months. Why then would I feel so confused, stressed, and like I had lost something? I found out that my feelings, and perhaps even your feelings, are tied to the fact that every change in life is a loss to some extent. You lose your comfort zone, your familiarity, friends, family, a potential future, a fantasy, a hope, a dream, or an area of your life where you have become complacent. Sometimes the situation is bad but you’re so used to it that you don’t want it to change because the change itself can feel more painful than just staying where you are. But this is bondage. Bondage is being stuck somewhere emotionally and psychologically because you fear coming out of it. That’s not freedom. I realized that I was partially in bondage to my own fear of letting go and yet, at the same time, I was still in bondage because I felt so bad after the change. Can you relate?
As you can see, change can be a dichotomy that requires a lot of strength, perseverance, and maturity to withstand. If you are experiencing change at this point in your life, be sure to allow yourself to do the following:
- Cry: It’s okay to allow yourself an emotional release. Change is tough and sometimes that change is forever like in death or divorce. Whatever your situation is, allow yourself to let go of the pain and sorrow you might be feeling. Sometimes a good cry will make room for you to grow, experience the positives of that change (if there are some), and have enough strength to push forward.
- Treat yourself with love: Treating yourself with love is basically engaging in self-care. Do something for yourself and allow yourself to enjoy an hour, a day, or a week of “me time.” Because change is both emotional and psychological, it makes sense to pamper yourself.
- Set goals: Sometimes we shy away from setting future goals because it makes us feel like we are shutting the door on our past and trying to forget it. While this may be partially true, setting future goals once a change has occurred is a good way to coerce your mind and heart into accepting change and seeing what the future holds for you. Although your change may feel like the end of your life, the truth is, it is not. There is more road to be traveled.
- Keep in touch: If your change includes moving from a neighborhood you were really attached to, ending a relationship that will end other relationships (for example, getting a divorce that will separate you from his or her side of the family), or sending someone off to college, make sure you offer a way for you to stay in touch. Just because one part of your life is ending doesn’t mean you have to end everything. Sometimes keeping in touch will make the change easier for you as well.
- Get back up: Once you allow yourself to process the change, accept it, and begin to move beyond it, you can start moving forward in your life and in your heart and mind. You can start actually foreseeing yourself in your new life. Allow yourself to still grieve the change (if that’s necessary), but also allow yourself to have an open heart and mind to new experiences.
Change is scary, change is emotional, change is psychological, change can be hurtful. But change can also be the beginning of new hope for you. It’s all in the way you look at it.
I wish you well