Everything changes, and that isn’t always terrible. Some of our life changes are intentional, like deciding to move to a new home. Some aren’t, like Instagram freaking all of us out with their new algorithm.
Some changes are also more serious than others.
Whether we have a say over the changes in our lives or not, the truth is, most of us really dislike it. And understandably so! Change can be incredibly uncomfortable. There are a million of unknowns (I exaggerate, but seriously!) and that -for most of us- causes a great deal of fear. And unless you are watching Hostel 3 by choice or have willingly decided to jump off a plane, who likes fear? Most definitely NOT me.
So if change is inevitable, and for the most part, out of our control, how do we want to move through it when we face it? Because, here’s the deal: although controlling change is not part of our human superpowers, directing our thoughts and actions IS!
If we are to go through life with a new attitude, the first step is to make peace with the fact that change -depending on its magnitude- will likely trigger fear in most of us. That is human nature. It is our instinct to try to figure out as quickly as possible what is going on in our environment so we can take action (fight, flight or freeze) to survive.
The next step is to realize the best of news: we do not live in a jungle. There is (I hope!) no lion chasing us. We don’t need to fight wild animals. We are not zebras fending for our lives on a daily basis. For most of us, the everyday changes in our lives are not life threatening -although our brains may be prone to interpret it differently.
The third step is to be incredibly compassionate with ourselves and take action. Beating ourselves up over an instinct that we don’t have much control over is a little useless and a lot unkind. What we can do is remember to come back to the present moment. Remember that right here, right now, we are alright.
The final step is to embrace a reality where there will always be things we have little to no control over, and some where we do. I am 99.9% (progress, not perfection) in acceptance with the fact that I can’t make moving homes go any faster, that I have zero control over social media algorithms and that I can’t make the sun shine on command. What I do have control over is my attitude, my organization and actions, the quality of my interactions with others -in person and online- and the content that I produce. I can also get an umbrella.
One of my all-time favourite mantras is “focus on the effort, let go of the outcome”. I think that is where the magic happens. And yes, a lot of times, it is easier said than done, primarily because I am human with a survival instinct wired to react every time fear kicks in. But I also know I can train my mindset, and I can continue to shake off my zebra fear and enjoy the pasture exactly as is, or at least the majority of it.
A FINAL STORY ON EMBRACING CHANGE
A friend recently confessed she is feeling uncomfortable in her body. She has taken many measures to improve her health and achieve balance: she quit smoking, began a gut-sensitive diet, quit sugar and alcohol, has intensified her yoga practice. And yet, her body weight -although a healthy one- is not where she wants it to be.
As someone who didn't grow up feeling comfortable in her body, I can certainly relate. One of my biggest breakthroughs in adult life was realizing that my body weight and shape are none of my business. My business is making sure I eat a balanced diet, I exercise regularly and I maintain some form of spiritual and emotional health. How that manifests physically --unless I want to get into some really sketchy and unhealthy behaviour- is out of my hands . And funny enough, the moment I let go of the outcome, my body began to settle into a sustainable and healthy size. It keeps changing shape (especially with age!) but my weight has remained relatively the same for years.
To me this is a great example of focusing on the effort and letting go of the outcome. As for my friend, she has clearly taken all of the necessary action, and now it’s time to let go and be patient. And this, I know, can sometimes be most challenging bit.
I can see how easy it is for most of us to get attached to how things are right this second. We can get attached when we don’t like what we see, and sometimes, because we do. Either way, the only thing we know for certain is that it won’t last forever. Things will always change.
The advice I am giving myself every day these days is to try not take things too seriously, even when I am in discomfort, stress or fear, especially when I am extremely happy and everything seems perfect. Instead, I am striving to be more curious, playful, and to not get attached to any of it, good or bad. And above all, I am making a serious effort to enjoy everything about every single perfectly-imperfect-moment, because I know that -in spite of my best efforts- it will also change.