“CHANGE: 5 Considerations To Help You Embrace Life’s Difficult Transitions.”

“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.”

~John Pierpont Morgan

 

Each and every morning that we are blessed to awaken to the morning sunshine is change.  There is nothing the same about the next minute you will experience.  Yet, when we know change is coming… when it is publicly pronounced, for most of us we are immediately afraid.

Why?  Why does it appear to be an innate feature of the human condition to be fearful of the unknown instead of embracing it’s possibilities?  Why is it that the notion of “change” is somehow automatically stigmatized with negativity?

Looking back over my life, I see now that it has all been one series of changes after another.  I was constantly transitioning from one season to the next, evolving, adapting, growing, becoming whole.  Some of these moments stay with us, carry us, allow us to be the wise counsel for others undergoing the same storm.  Without even recognizing it, these at-times, tumultuous changes have instilled an ironic sense of calm and self-assured confidence we might not otherwise have.

My divorce was one of the many difficult experiences I have had to navigate through.  I was very young yet I distinctly remember feeling mournfully old.  The abrupt change brought about feelings of doubts inside I had never had before.  The suggestion of starting over again was like asking me to run a marathon with the flu.  My spark for life was dead… or so I thought.

Life can be summed up as a series of one Act scenes from an emotional, pendulum swinging melodrama which lifts us to soar heights we thought never possible to cringe worthy lows we close our eyes to forget.

That is life.

Change is ALWAYS coming.  However, it is our perceptions of change that make the difference whether we struggle against it’s vast current or become limber to the possibilities that await on the new shores of possibilities.

Here are some suggestions to consider when faced with CHANGE:

  1.  Lists. I believe in concrete exercises that give physical, you-can-touch-it proof when faced with any dilemma.  So my first suggestion is to make two lists.  The first list is “What’s the best that could happen?”  The second is “What’s the worst that could happen?” If the first list is longer than the second list, throw the second list away. Why?  Because either two things are going to happen with that “worst” list.  1. You’re going to dwell on it until you actually manifest some of these negative issues to fruition.  2. You’re not going to give the proper attention to the first list.  Which leads us to the next consideration.
  2. Move forward.  I can fully appreciate that some transitions in life are extremely difficult. Death. Divorce. Break-ups. Career disappointments. Accidents. Illness. These pivotal turning points can be all-consuming and extremely painful. They can fester and bleed until we find ourselves weak and unable to cope. It is in these vital moments that we must use all the force we can muster to take one baby step at a time toward the light. Battered and bruised, lift your head up and even if you don’t know the direction you’re going yet, just move. Any inkling of mobility at all during these crucial times is progress. Baby steps, however small, will lead you to a parth of regaining your footing.  However painful, it is the only way forward to the other side.
  3. Be grateful for change.  When my children were little there were days…difficult days…where things didn’t go well. Days that left us all feeling disappointed.  I used to tuck them into bed that evening and tell them, “This day wasn’t our best day.  But that’s why God gives us tomorrows. He wants to make sure we always have a second chance for a better day than today.” I believe this wholeheartedly. Tomorrows are real opportunities  because they are filled with possibilities of newness…yes, and change. In this way, we need to re-think change and be grateful for how it carries us through the currents of our lives, most of the time-dare I say- unwillingly, to new and exciting chapters and self-evolvement we never dreamed possible. Yes! Change is good. 
  4. Acceptance.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Fighting reality gets us no where.  So here’s the reality of our situation. Change is coming. Always. From one moment to the next, it’s all one big surprise. Good, bad, amazing, heartbreaking, incredible, devastating. The pendulum will continue to swing from our first breath to our last from one degree to another. Don’t wait to be old and wise to figure this out like the rest of us! Acceptance that our lives can change course completely with one simple phone call, one diagnosis, one promotion, one particular decision is half the battle. It’s all part of a plan that we have no real control over so worrying over the inevitable is futile. People who make it to the finish line of the race intact and smiling are rarely unscathed. No, not at all.  They are no different than you and me with one exception:  They learned how to weather the storms and get back in the game of life.  They willed themselves to make it to the finish line intact in smiling.  It was a personal decision to accept and overcome.
  5. Change changes us. Much like a rapidly moving brook down a mountain hillside, our lives are one interlocking progression of change as well. With each new encounter, relationship, promotion, demotion, loss, adventure, observation and unexpected struggle or enhancement… we are changed. It is in this manner of thinking that we can in some ways compartmentalize the universal plan in hopes of making sense of the big picture. Change forces us to grow where we would otherwise remain stagnant. Of course, most of us prefer the status quo to change.  It’s easier. Safer. But remaining in the status quo doesn’t allow us to become all that we have the potential to be. Take a look back over your life. If you’re honest with yourself, the chapters you grew the most were the most challenging. It is important to remember that the root of the grapevine will produce the most flavorful grapes when starved of water and forced to grow deep into the soil in search of moisture. We are no different than the grapevine. We become more ripened, savory, seasoned, soft, sweet, soothing when we are forced to dig deep.

We all have the capabilities to do such great things in this world! Our potential is limitless. But greatness comes with a price.  And the price to be paid usually begins and ends with bravery. Bravery to accept what cannot be changed and force ourselves to move forward anyway. Bravery to let go. Bravery to accept what’s written and vow to never look back. Bravery to have a vision, a goal, a dream and a plan to bring it to fruition. Yet, bravery is not enough. It is only when bravery meets sheer determination for happiness that change can be churned into something truly magnificent.

The caterpillar stays cocooned for approximately 2 weeks before morphing into a miraculous Monarch butterfly. The cocoon serves it’s purpose for the caterpillar by preparing it for this wondrous change.

What if we could learn to perceive change the way the caterpillar embraces his? Excited for the extraordinary, inexplicable and magical prospects that await us around every corner? Of the beauty in our lives yet to be written? To live life with the kind of zest and passion that we don’t think twice about throwing away the second, “What’s the worst that could happen” list? To actually choose change instead of hiding from it?

I think that’s the true definition of bravery.  I also think that’s the secret to making it to the finish line, perhaps battered and bruised, but with your smile intact.

I choose to be the butterfly.  I choose change!

God bless and cheers to the beauty that awaits you!

Michele Mathews

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