Change : Choice : Opportunity?
I often work at home with the ABC radio on and enjoy the conversations happening and one stopped me in my tracks and had me listening carefully and making notes – it was about how we feel about change.
For many of us (me included) change can be a scary thing and our automatic reaction is to be defensive.
But that is the thing about change, when we’re not feeling like we have control of it we are scared of it, when we feel we have choice about the change, and hence control, we are usually happy about it.
The thing is change is always about us. We plant gardens thinking of how they will grow – how they will change. Our children constantly change and grow and we have to grow as adults loving them well so we can give them what they need from us to grow into healthy and confident young people who add value to our society.
Forced change with work or home can be daunting and it is easy to feel you don’t have control over it. But if you hold on tightly you won’t be able to go with the flow to make the best of the change.
I’ve learnt some changes can be the worst possible changes – horrible diagnosis or loss of loved ones can floor you. And no matter what you do you can’t fix it, you can’t stop that change. But to survive that change you need to find a way to be flexible, to think of a way to take some good out of it, no matter if it isn’t the good you most fervently desire.
With all change you have choice. Now choice is the most liberating and stimulating response to change you can recognise. It all comes down to your response to the change. You can go through all the negative emotions about a change that frightens you but it is the decisions you make, the choices you make, about how to handle the effects of the changes that you have control of.
It is your choice what you have in your life. It is your choice what sort of people you have in your life, what amount of time and space they take up in your life. We all have people in our life who seem to only want to bring us down but their impact can be minimised, even if they are family. You can reduce the amount of time you have with them, you can see it as a 2 – 3 year mission to slowly change your relationship with them (maybe not change them but you can change the relationship little bit by little bit) so they are less damaging and do not pull you down. If you try to change that sort of relationship quickly you’ll most likely end up with a massive argument in your face that leaves you feeling like it will never change.
But usually the people who like to pull others down are doing so because they are scared of something and they use negative control to keep control of their daily life. So if you challenge that control they will fight hard to put you in a place they feel they can control you. If you want to change such a relationship you need them to feel secure and safe so the change is more desirable (if you can make it seem like their idea all the better!).
So why would you want to change negative relationships in your life? Simple answer – to have a more peaceful and happier life.
One of the things that struck me with the radio interview was the exploration of the idea of control. We feel safer when we feel we are in control.
In reality we’re not in control as much as we think we are. Being in control makes us feel safe and strong. But if you’re holding on tightly then you can’t take advantage of opportunities. Opportunities is just another word for change.
Those who see change as opportunity usually find more success for their endeavours – whatever that success is.
With all the wind in Sydney the last month I’ve been amazed by the trees (I have a very tree filled view from my lounge room). With the wind they bend – derr, that’s obvious you think – but that flexibility the tress have keeps them flourishing. When the wind becomes too strong the trees loose branches and at worst they come crushing down. If this happens in a forest then the trees go into the next cycle of becoming homes and food for bush creatures and earth. It is all a cycle. Even if trees come down in residential areas they can be cut up for fire wood, for landscaping purposes, for all sorts of things. A tree can’t challenge change, even the biggest tree can be torn down by a violent storm and the tree moves into the next cycle.
This long tree analogy is to say that flexibility gives you more resilience and hence inner strength than holding on tightly and resisting change.
Yes, some changes (many even many changes) can be introduced better, can be made better.
But if you want change to be well accepted you need to bring people along with you, have mechanisms for refinements of the change, asking for feedback to tweak the changes into something that is better than was before.
I am much better with change in my life now because I’ve finally accepted that it is constant and that’s fine. I am making change in my life a much more constant thing than I have before because I feel safe in my resilience. That is the key – feeling safe by being resilient. I know I can bounce back from set backs. That if I make a change and I don’t like it I can move on and make it something that is good. I feel safe that if something big and horrible happens again then I have the inner strength to cope with it and then later blossom because I have the resilience within me now. I have chosen resilience rather than what appears as external strength. I don’t need to hold on tightly any more and the freedom and liberation with my life that gives me is making me deeply happy. It is how I can leave the corporate world that was safe but not making me happy to be out in my own business, loving it and being successful with it.
Fear of change can be a very strong prison you choose to stay in. Letting go of that fear can be your key to freedom. Your choice.
So how do you let go of fear? Do something that scares you every day. I know it is a well worn saying but that is because it is true. You don’t have to do a big thing straight up, just achievable things on a daily basis. It is like stretching, the more you stretch the more flexible you are. The more you stretch your emotional self the more resiliently strong you become.
It is a life style thing, not a fad diet, a daily thing you choose to bring into your life. So, do you want some examples of acts of stretching to consider (they may not be challenging to you but it is worth getting the ideas going):
* when you see someone wearing something you think looks good tell them you like it and well done on their choice – giving a complement to a stranger or someone you don’t know very well can be a little daunting but to receive kinds words from a stranger is a wonderful experience.
* buy a copy of the Big Issue, pay extra and with an open and kind smile wish them a prosperous day. The Big Issue sellers are great examples of people choosing to make positive change in their life.
* take some flowers to the local nursing home and ask for them to be given to someone who hasn’t had a visitor for a long time. This theme can be expanded on and you can regularly visit someone but this is about little steps initially. Do what is achievable and stretches you a little.
* if you want to be free of smoking make the phone call to the Quit line and see what they have to offer (I took years thinking to quit and then did it in my own way over 12 months, completely against the advice of professions who said it had to be straight away, but I’ve quit so my way worked for me. The trick is finding a way that works for you).
* volunteer for a day or two for a charity that appeals to you. Visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation at www.nbcf.org.au and explore.
* Talk with someone who is kind and loves you about what you want in your life and ways to explore having it in your life. It is no use having one of these conversations with someone who shoots ideas down, pick someone supportive. Your choice.
Change : Choice : Opportunity – what do you want?
Just one final thought, if you are finding change is being brought into your work or personal life that you don’t like, sit back and think of time frames and what you do want.
Explore what is involved in the change, think about how much time you are prepared to give it to work out and what boundaries – what is good enough and not good enough for you – you want. A good employer will realise the value of a good worker. If their hands are tied it is the company’s loss and there is sadness but it is the opportunity to make good things happen for you.
Your Choice! 🙂