Dealing with Change

"Scientists have demonstrated that dramatic, positive
changes can occur in our lives as a direct result of facing
an extreme challenge - whether it's coping with a serious
illness, daring to quit smoking, or dealing with depression.
Researchers call this 'post-traumatic growth."

-Jane McGonigal

"Things do not change; we change."
-Henry David Thoreau
      The quotes above are poignant, one saying when we undergo a dramatic change it leads to growth; the other quote, reinforces the message it is we who change not things. How often do we find ourselves thinking that a dramatic change will destroy our well-being? And how often do we think that IF things (i.e. the situation) changes we would be restored to positive emotions?

      In our world today, regardless of other tough personal difficulties we may be facing, a dramatic live style change has been imposed on us. This has caused a significant challenge to our coping skills and sense of well-being. We face the ongoing pandemic, our nation’s highly polarized politics and the serious conflicting perspectives about Black Lives Matter. In order to keep emotional stability, we must bend not break. We need to loosen our hold on blame and hate in order to learn and grow in a positive direction.

      Now what about the deeply difficult personal hits which don’t stop because our world is a mess right now? Yep, more stretching and growing.

      The good news in facing highly difficult circumstances is that change becomes personal growth. We all have a variety of character traits. Some that serve us well and other traits that cause us trouble and interfere with gaining positive outcomes.

      Keep in mind that even when we experience emotional turmoil, we have the opportunity to shed ways of behaving that will result in our feeling worse. A couple examples: Those who obsess over getting things “just right” have the opportunity to loosen their tight grip on having things their way. Those who avoid seeing they are not taking care of themselves when they are compelled to make things better for others, can gain the insight that their first job is to love and care for themselves. Because in doing this, one realizes, they have more to give, and; they no longer need to fear others will not love them or are devalued if they don’t take care of others or fix a situation.

      Regardless of any particular trait or habit area we are trying to change, there is a powerful force working against this change. It is our need for being comfortable. Because of this high need for the comfort of sameness, we cling to what is usual and familiar. Even if it has never worked well, like plunging into anger or hopelessness.

      The joyful truth is we can and do change by taking on new behaviors consistently for a long period of time. By being persistent in our doing a new positive behavior, change becomes comfortable. Then our systems are convinced we are living in the familiar; we are at ease. We Now our previous resistance to behaving differently melts away.

      Life presents us with a variety of great opportunities for positive change and growth. Let us lean in and learn.

Mary Seyuin, M.A. LLP