Change: It’s Guaranteed

The one thing that is constant in life is change. When times are good, we want them to continue long term. When the opposite is the case, we wish for them to end, as soon as possible. One thing is for certain, trouble don’t last always, as my grandma used to say. When we resist change, it brings us pain and suffering. When we adapt to change, we learn and grow. That is not to say adaptation is easy, for we know it can be an excruciating experience, but once we get to the other side, we are forever changed.

We often become frazzled when life changes occur, such as a job loss, a loved one passes, or unexpected relocation. Our routine is uprooted and we have to take steps, or a series of actions necessary under the circumstances. How do we make our transitions smooth when we are under stress? There are things we can do to make the transition easier.

  1. Acknowledge what is happening.  
  2. Make time for self care; whatever that means to you. 
  3. Plan and prioritize as necessary and possible.
  4. Reach out to your support network (one or two confidants should suffice). 
  5. Remember to take things one step at a time, starting with the conscious breath. Sometimes, all we can do in the moment is breathe.          

When we acknowledge the situation at hand, we are exercising awareness, which is the first step to overcoming any challenge. It is equivalent to being present in the moment. Taking time to sit and reflect is most helpful. It is also a good time for giving special attention to good nutrition, hydration, and loving ourselves.  Connecting with nature, or a sea salt bath could be ways you nurture self. We could overindulge in eating, drinking or whatever makes us disconnect, but at some point, we have to pay the piper for our choices.  We can also channel that energy through sports, exercise, music, and even laughter, believe it or not.

 If we devise a good plan, we can simply walk through the steps, if the change is that simple. If not, we may have to incorporate other resources that require time and other people. If there is someone we can talk to, it helps tremendously to have a sounding board. They must be a good listener, however. Most often than not, we find ourselves working out solutions just by verbalizing facts out loud. A prompt or question here and there from your trusted person(s) encourages critical thinking. 

I remember reading a book on decision making, which taught me to critically think my way through a serious dilemma, by asking questions like, “Then what?” The perforated cue card included in the book was a bit much, but the wallet-sized list of critical questions sat on my desk for easy reference until they became second nature. However, it certainly did not prevent me from making future mistakes, but I could think better under pressure. 

Grief is a process that requires special care. A short illness or medical procedure surely requires an intermission in life’s pursuits. Terminal illness is one of the most challenging times for the patient, as well as the caretaker. In a study performed at a conference by the Archstone Foundation in 2009, terminally ill participants were more likely to experience transformative changes versus those that were not sick. The patient was more likely to go through a spiritual transformation. The caregivers transformed in their core values, compassion and empathy. They developed better coping skills in addition to flexibility and adaptability (Penman, 2009). Acceptance was the overall result of the patient and caretaker’s  transformations. 

Grief gives us pause in life’s journey. Although, we would like to skip steps in the process, they come up anyway, when we don’t honor our feelings and emotions. We may not recognize the dynamics of Cause and Effect behind the scenes of bad choices, often after losing a loved one. It’s definitely not the time for making major decisions. In talking with people who confided in me over the years, and comparing their experiences to my own, I saw a pattern. When we dismiss the grieving process, it manifests one way or another, often at the most inconvenient times. 

It’s not always cool to wear our hearts on our sleeves in public or at work, yet through the process, we may repeat certain steps. We have to honor them when they show up, and it is therefore necessary to make space and time for privacy. There are seven stages of grief, which can be reduced to five. They include:

  1. Shock
  2. Denial
  3. Anger
  4. Bargaining
  5. Guilt
  6. Depression
  7. Acceptance

One and two are often combined and some people may or may not experience depression at all. On the other hand, some stages may take longer than others. Managing the associated stress and recognizing these emotions when they arise, is the key to minimizing their effects. 

Several psychological triggers can make us resistant to change, such as post traumatic stress, abandonment or out-dated belief systems. Sometimes change is necessary for people in our lives. The most memorable thing I learned from Iyanla Vanzant’s One Day My Soul Just Opened Up, is, “People come into our lives for a reason, season, or lifetime” (Vanzant, 1999). She may not be the first to coin that expression, but it sure helped me in transitioning to another state. 

Moving is yet another uprooting challenge. Whether it be for a job, upgrade or downsizing, we still have to pack it up, and unpack it on the other side. It’s not so bad when we’re moving to a nicer place. Someone once said, “Nothing can grow or evolve without movement”. Preferably, we’ve done our homework, while prioritizing, so we can treat the experience like a new adventure rather than a grueling task. 

Some changes can be exciting and anticipated. New love relationships, marriage and children can be welcomed changes to life. These challenges require a new level of maturity and responsibility. Whether we plan or allow things to happen organically, we are prompted to make adjustments to these new chapters. Charting new courses for ourselves can be awkward at first, yet somehow we adapt.

In the end, change is as necessary for spiritual and mental ascension, as it is  for our physical health. We can resist or persist.  Sometimes it requires a little help and support, but either way, change is inevitable. Another poignant quote I recall, “We have no right to treat others better than we treat ourselves”. That one stuck, since we can be our own worst critics in the face of change. So, give yourself a break and some grace, for the winds of change can toss you about like an autumn leaf, or float you in the breeze like a feather. One way or the other, it’s guaranteed to happen.

Sheila T. Zimmerman ‘22

References

Images. pintrest.com. Accessed August 15, 2022.

Penman J. Cognitive and Behavioral Changes Arising From Spirituality. J Relig Health. 2021 Dec;60(6):4082-4096. doi: 10.1007/s10943-021-01321-7. Epub 2021 Jun 25. PMID: 34173136; PMCID: PMC8231745.

Vanzant, Iyanla. One Day My Soul Just Opened Up. Gale Group.  Farmington Hills, MI. April 1999. ASIN  :  B00N4EKJ5U. 

Published by EarthtoneS

My love for writing extends back to the early years as a form of expression when my vocabulary was limited. I needed a way to validate my thoughts and feelings. I began with poetry which led to journaling, and songwriting. Ultimately, I began writing as a subcontractor in '08 for a freelancer who supplied articles to businesses. This is where I learned SEO content, keywords, and density. By the time I had written hundreds of articles of this nature, it was time to move forward in my quest to learn internet marketing as I honed my creative writing skillset. I began writing academically in 2015 so I could tighten up on how to cite my research. Now it's time to apply what I've learned to my body of work. My desire is to complete the book for which I've researched and compiled information, in addition to my personal experience. As I sojourn towards having my first full body of work published, I am available for writing projects to support my objective. I am grateful for the day you discover, acknowledge, and appreciate the passion in my words.

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