When was the last time you felt connected to change in your life? A decade ago, a week ago, yesterday?
Change happens to each one of us. Every day. Even when unnoticed. We go through small changes and big changes. We change others and are changed by them.
What may feel completely different is when you are the enabler of change, rather than being a mere observer. In this case, change is not just happening to you but you become an active part of change. You feel connected to what is changing in you and in your life.
Change comes in different formats and sizes. It emerges as much as from positive circumstances as through difficult and painful situations. For some people changing cars is part of a tradition every 3 to 4 years. For others it means months of searching and comparing, gathering advice from family and friends before committing to a new ride.
A similar process may apply for changes such as moving abroad, getting married, having kids. We can label them as small or big changes depending on our surroundings, experiences, personality. After all, each of us has its own way to cope and to connect with change.
If we were to identify the different stages of coping and connecting with change, this is how it could look.
1. Discomfort: It all starts with a discomfortness from within. We may not know where it comes from. Sometimes we do not even recognize it as discomfort. It is a sense of unease numbing our ability to be present and mindful. As if two sides of us were in disagreement. At first, we may dismiss it until it gets too loud to be ignored.
2. Acknowledgment: Second stage takes places when we recognize that something is different inside us. Something has changed. The circumstances, the environment, a perspective, a plan. This moment calls for change and with change comes action. It may have happened to us unexpectedly or we made it happened. Either way it is taking place - within and outer - and there is no way back.
3. Uncertainty: No matter what is changing or how big the change is, we have doubts, concerns. Though we know change is inevitable, it still raises uncertainty. Will I be okay? Will it be as I imagine? Will I be able to manage it? What if I can't go through it? Our mind plays tricks on us making us question everything. Sometimes even doubt what we know is better for ourselves.
4. Acceptance: Change happens, often in unexpected ways, and at its own pace. As any other process, its progress will depend on the rhythm that we take each step forward. Rushing it will only make us feel overwhelmed and insecure. But when we take our time, when we do it at our own rhythm we allow change to happen from inside out - instead of the other way around. Before we know it, the peace and quiet we feel within comes from a place of acceptance.
5. Embrace: At a final stage we are ready to feel and live change in its entirety. Change may take place through a positive or a negative event, though change itself is nor good or bad. Rather what we decide to do in moments of change. We will feel different for sure. During the process of change, a part of us has grown. It is our responsibility to honor this growth the best way we can, by connecting with it mindfully and purposefully.
You can move quite rapidly through these 5 stages; or it can take you months or even years. Going through change can prove to be challenging and often painful. Let judgement aside and embrace each stage while you let yourself connect to your emotions, your doubts, your resilient self.
Above all embrace the opportunity for growth and deeper connection that comes with change. It is happening not TO you, but in connection with you.