How to Challenge Your Fear of Change
Mindfulness is the art of being present and living fully in the moment, letting go of guilt over the past and worry about the future. It helps us manage stress by embracing qualities such as patience, letting go, trust, and acceptance. Today as I was listening to a book about mindfulness, the author mentioned something that made me stop and take a pause. It's something I know so well, but in the context of what he was saying it became more vivid.
It was simple: "Every ending is a new beginning." It reminded me that endings signify change, and while change often induces stress, change is opportunity. No matter how difficult, change allows us to embrace new experiences and to grow and learn as a result. For me it was a gentle reminder to always look forward rather than back, and to welcome all that lies ahead.
In light of this I decided that we have to challenge our fear of change, and to do so we need strategies that help us focus on the future and let go of the past. I came up with two that I believe are critical, that have helped me personally embrace and adapt to change.
Grow with change. As a trailing spouse, I know change. There was a period of time where my husband and my two daughters and I moved three times in five years for his career. Having grown up in one home all my life this wasn’t a lifestyle I would have imagined living, but somehow those moves seemed to call on my courage. Maybe it was personal resilience, the kind you don't realize you have until put to the test. Or maybe it was two experiences where I lived abroad at earlier times in my life. It could have been the freedom of anonymity, or it may have been all of the above, but somehow I always put inhibition aside. Somehow a move always proved to be the perfect opportunity for transformation and a fresh start. If everything you know to be true is changing, what do you have to lose?
This mindset empowered me and it was a catalyst to many new things. I put myself out there in ways I may not have otherwise. I think this feeling is familiar to many and it doesn’t take a move to get you there. It’s similar to the desire some have after a break up to change their look, or something about their lifestyle, like a new hairdo or a gym membership. The bottom line is, there’s power in change if we tap into it. Sometimes we’re inspired to change our career, our direction in life, or something else to match the energy we get when one door closes and we’re ready for the next one to open. It means that something has come to an end and what lies ahead has potential. If we look back and yearn for what used to be we are left with nothing but regret and disappointment. If we open our arms to new experiences we can embrace what lies ahead.
Accept change. Some moves went better than others. With some moves I went in with an open heart and with others I went in with resistance. The ones where I went in with resistance were always the harder moves. My tone set the stage for my daughters and laid the foundation for how things were going to play out in our lives. I soon learned that acceptance doesn’t mean resignation, it means that you accept the situation for what it is and you choose to make the most of it. It’s like Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ five stages of grief; sometimes you have to go through denial, anger, bargaining, and depression before you can get to acceptance, but once you get there you’ll see the situation through a fresh set of eyes. At that point everything about the move, the break up, the job loss, or whatever change you’re experiencing will seem easier to manage and less of a struggle.
Every ending really is a new beginning, and beginnings are full of excitement and wonder. May we all be open to change, and the possibilities that lie ahead.
Best to you in Health,