Why is change so difficult?
Change can be a rocky road
Think of change as a process with three main phases. The first one is full of endings. Things that had been part of your life may no longer be available or possible. The second is a middle zone where you are moving forward into a new direction, but may still be bound by the past. This makes it an often uncomfortable and somewhat turbulent space to be in, particularly if you have not chosen the change or it is irreversible. The third phase is characterised by real new beginnings.
However, no change process is the same. It rarely follows a straightforward path or linear progression. There may be much going back and forth between the three phases. Expect stops and starts, three steps forward and two back, disappointments and achievements, turbulence and calmness.
The unknown is scary
Most people feel apprehensive when facing a new situation. It can bring up painful emotions, especially fear of the unknown and fear of failure. Self-doubt creeps in and things can be quite overwhelming. You may be telling yourself scary stories about your situation and prospects. But don’t be tripped up by feeling hopeless, inadequate or afraid. Watch out for this and shift your thoughts from dwelling on problems to focusing on solutions.
So much has changed
You may find that your roles have changed — newly single after a relationship breakup, made redundant at work, moved to a new city… Your usual routines and habits may no longer be relevant, prompting you to find new ways of doing things. Relationships can also be very much affected by your new circumstance, perhaps requiring you to reconsider some or establish new ones.
It’s like running an obstacle course
You may encounter a myriad of difficulties that delay or hinder a smooth transition: newly closed doors, health problems, financial difficulties or relationship discord.
But you may also trip yourself up. Your expectations and attachment to a certain outcome may prevent you from being open to new and unexpected options, ideas or directions. Looking to past experience can be useful: I did it then, I can do it again. But it can also be a stumbling block: It didn’t work then, it won’t work now. Don’t be held back, each situation is different and you are not who you were then.
If your nerves need settling …
Try this simple breathing technique.
- Check your posture and straighten it but without getting tense
- Feel your feet make contact with the ground
- Notice your breathing — don’t worry if it is quite shallow or rapid
- Keep breathing as you are but now make the out breath longer than the in breath. For example, count 1–2–3 for the breath in, and 1–2–3–4 for the breath out. You can also count 1000–2000; whatever you find comfortable
- Don’t force anything, just count and follow the slow, gentle rhythm as long as you like
- You may notice that your breath flows deeper towards your abdomen
- Use this technique any time you feel out-of-sorts. Because it’s all internal, nobody will notice
Find out more at my blog on http://christianastar.com/blog/