Learning to Live Week 3: Making a Change
This week, we are going to talk about change: what it means and how to make changes without drama. I wrote in my book about how everybody who knows me knows I love change. I love change because I know that when I come out the other side, the rewards will be well worth the effort.
Most people are scared of change. They are set in their ways and like things the way they are. Why rattle the cage? The thought of change brings up fear in people because change takes them out of their comfort zones. This is very logical on the surface, but if people knew what was waiting on the other side of change, they would jump at the chance to take the journey. Change requires both courage and thought.
When you are making change in your life, it is important to take baby steps. Few people can dive in full force without becoming discouraged. They may even turn back or quit. The idea is to be able to stay with your changes for as long as necessary. Most of the time, baby steps are helpful when you are making change. Think of a baby step as dipping your toe into the shallow end of the pool before taking the plunge into the deep end. Whether you are moving, looking for a new job, taking action to change a personality trait, overhauling your health or any of the other countless things we do, the first step can be small.
A good first step is to do your homework or footwork, but not so much homework that you just end up procrastinating. Fact-finding might include writing a clear idea about what it is you want to change. Set up a support system, which could include friends, experts or doctors, if appropriate. Set a timeline for yourself.
Step 2 might involve a reaction from your emotional center. This is where that small part of you deep inside might be really afraid even though the rest of you seem to be on board. We all have a part of ourselves that resists change. Be prepared and watch for signs that come up. Are you lashing out at loved ones? Have you caught the flu or a cold or perhaps don't feel well overall? Are you spending more time sleeping and avoiding situations? These could be signs that your emotional center is having trouble with change.
I'm always telling people I need to marinate. I like the process because I get to sit with my feelings, feel what comes up and observe it. I haven't always been this way, but once I recognize that feelings are coming to the surface, fearful feelings, I know that sitting with them and acknowledging them is the best way to get through this period faster and without causing damage. If fear has bubbled up for you, take time and rest. Think about what part of you is scared and why.
And, finally, remember that change has to come from you. You won't be so willing to change if others are forcing you into it. When the time is right and you feel ready, then the process of change will start.
Here are some examples of the areas in which people often make major changes in their life and the types of changes they might make:
- Relationships: Getting into one, getting out of one or going deeper into one.
- Jobs: Upgrading your current one or changing your career to something that makes you happy.
- Home: Moving to a new location.
- School: Deciding to go back for more education.
- Behavior: Changing a negative behavior—such as being domineering or controlling or not standing up for yourself—or ending self-sabotaging behavior.
- Inner life: Wanting to become a more spiritually aware person and living more consciously.
Get this week's homework assignment