Is our need to stay in the security of our comfort zone overrated? We know that change is constant and inevitable, yet most of us resist change. We even resist the change that is for our good.
When things are bad, we are quick to accept that things are continually changing and will get better. Nonetheless, when things are going well, we try to convince ourselves that things will stay as they are. Even so, change happens, whether we like it or not.
It can be unrelenting: changes in the economy, life marches on, relationships in flux as people grow and move on.
We can choose to approach it with mindfulness. How do I feel about these changes? What emotions am I experiencing about this situation or my future? This awareness needs to even extend to feelings that we may have about the past.
I want life to change, but I don’t want to change!
I recently heard Michael Beckwith say something along the lines of people always want life and their situation to change, but they are not willing to change! It reminds me of the comic that we have all seen:
Most of us want to see environmental changes, but how many of us are willing to make personal sacrifices and lifestyle changes that will have an impact? Many of us talk about political reforms and then choose policies that favour us, rather than voting in favour of the greater good.
Even in relationships, we want the relationship to improve. But are we willing to improve our communication, our listening and our empathy in the relationship? Are we willing to admit that we are 100% responsible for the current state of the relationship? The relationship that we have is simply a reflection of how we have expressed ourselves so far with this other person.
In very much the same way, we want our business and sales to improve in a company, and yet we look for “innovative ways” to continue doing what we have done for the past twenty years. We like the security of our comfort zone, rather than genuinely disrupting the way we’ve always done things.
Sometimes the changing times requires that we change our actions, responses and even thought processes.
The paradox that we face is this: we are always changing and yet never change. Think of how many times you have promised yourself that you will change. Then you didn’t. You started a new routine for two or three weeks and then fell back into your old routine and habits.
Nonetheless, if you look at who you are today and who you were ten years ago, without a doubt, you have changed!
What security do I lose if I dare to change?
One of the biggest challenges for change is our identity: “Who am I?” It is much easier to change what we do than it is to change our identity “who I am”. When we mix in identity, it gets all complicated. We start to measure our worth and value by how we consider we are living up to that identity.
Nonetheless, we also start to complicate our identity with past versions of ourselves that we unknowingly protect. Our ego seeks to protect “this is who I’ve always been”. We fail to accept “this is who I am becoming”. It’s a scary world when we start to redefine identity, and we get scared and uncertain.
One of the things I love about mBraining and mBIT coaching is that it offers my clients a discovery process. Through the techniques used, we can explore who you are, in the present moment. We can differentiate past versions of identity and all the value and worth that they bring to who you’ve now become. We can even explore your “becoming” and how you envision your growth.
The invitation is to find your security in growing into yourself: think for yourself, listen to your heart and needs.
But understand that as you grow and change, there are risks of things around you changing as well.
Our relationships change and evolve:
Every relationship I have is in constant flux, even my relationship with my six-year-old daughter. If I’m honest, especially that relationship! As she grows and discovers her independence, I have to adapt and evolve my parenting style. The conversations that we have now are so different from a year ago!
So, while we accept that my six-year-old changes and grows, why is so hard to accept that in a year a thirty-year-old or a fifty-year-old will change and grow?
If you are focused on your personal or professional growth, you may outgrow some relationships. Are you holding them lightly or grasping them tightly? The same way that you cannot force a six-year-old to mature before their time, what makes you think that you can drag another person along your growth path with you?
Consider something simple: a decision to join a gym or a running club. How will this change in lifestyle impact your relationship with a sedentary family member or friend? If you were able to find time before to go to the movies twice a week, will this new active lifestyle take away time from the activities you previously pursued? And how will that change in priorities and time impact the relationship?
Every relationship is in flux: continually changing.
The question we have to ask ourselves in each relationship is simple: are our values and priorities still aligned? We grow apart when our values diverge, and we begin to spend our time differently.
Consider any relationship where you find you have grown apart: what values did you have in common that you no longer hold so dear? And how are you going to allow your relationships to define you?
Changes in our health and wellbeing
I have to admit it: until very recently, I struggled with the fact that I am ageing. I am no longer 29 going on 35!
One of the biggest challenges I faced was a failure to change my lifestyle, diet and exercise routine to accommodate my current reality. I no longer have the body of a 29-year-old.
At some stage, we have to accept that the time is now to adopt that healthy lifestyle that we thought we could choose later. I cannot stop the ageing process, but I can embrace it and enjoy excellent health, wellness and vitality at 47! When I finally accepted everything about my body (including Celiac Disease and SIBO), healing started to happen fantastically. I was finally working with the change, rather than resisting it.
Did I have a bit of a crisis before accepting this? Yes!
And I would encourage you to do the same: learn to love and accept your body, health and wellbeing where it is at today and work from there. Accept the changes that have taken place and embrace them.
Changes in our career or finances
With swings and roundabouts of life, our jobs and funds can have highs and lows. You might be experiencing a career change that involves:
- more responsibilities;
- more significant interaction with other staff members;
- leadership or supervision;
- delegation of duties you used to take care of yourself;
- longer hours;
- more travel;
- longer or shorter commutes or telecommuting;
- new company;
- more remuneration & benefits; or
- networking opportunities.
Whatever the changes are, they will impact other areas of your life, perhaps even in ways you hadn’t envisioned. Having more money, for example, might change your priorities towards savings or a new home. If you are required to travel more, you might notice the impact it has on your relationships.
Every change you have ripples throughout your life. How mindful and conscious have you been of the effects on change: on yourself as well as on others in your life? Do they continue to feel safe and secure in their relationship with you? What security do you feel in your finances and career as you change and grow?
May you live in interesting times
Our anxiety levels increase because we want to control not only what we do, but the outcomes and results of our efforts. Nonetheless, if we put our anxious energy to good use, we can focus it into problem-solving and creativity.
If you are struggling to accept change in a given area of your life: consider the cost of the status quo. Where will you be in five years if you make no changes and continue to resist? Does the status quo align with your values and desires?
Or would you prefer to adapt to the interesting times, finding new meaning and a level of security that you don’t currently have?
Finding inner peace in the face of change
The first step is an awareness of the change happening around us and how uncomfortable we are with the changes. What is currently taking place in your world that impacts your sense of security? Are you mindful of the fears that arise for you when you consider the change and growth that is asked of you?
I find it helpful with clients to focus on what they are afraid of: it’s not usually the change itself. Sit with your fear for a moment. What do you value that is threatened by the change? Most of the time, the way is through the fear: accepting all the implications and disruptions that change will cause.
I find it also helps to write two lists on a page:
- What I can control
- What is beyond my control
Then I have a look at how much time I am wasting worrying about all of the things which are beyond my control. Your point of power and fulcrum on which you can pivot lie only in the first list. When you turn your attention and energy to working only on things that are within your control: you suddenly realise that you can influence the outcome.
The daring adventure of a changing world
What if the change isn’t a tragedy that impacts your security, but rather a daring adventure of personal growth?
I invite you to explore these three steps in facing change:
#1 Connection & compassion:
Stay present, open-hearted even, in the face of change. Experience it, all the highs and lows, with compassion for yourself and others. Allow yourself, throughout the whole experience, to be present with your feelings and to notice how others around you are feeling.
For example, my six-year-old has been acting out lately as I have been working longer hours. I’m not only aware of it, but I am also making an effort to connect to her with compassion as she struggles with having less time with me and more time in after-school activities. Being stricter or cold is not the answer. Empathy and connection allow me to recognise her insecurity and respond to her needs.
As you do this, you allow yourself to create more safety and security in your relationships. As you notice your feelings and responses, you can practice higher emotional intelligence: how will I act with this person that feels threatened by the change?
A second challenge in the face of change is to tap into your creativity: think outside the box.
Our instinct, when faced with the unknown, is to play it safe. Most of the time, this means doing what we have always done. Unfortunately, this typically is the opposite of what the situation requires for us to navigate change successfully.
Allow yourself to get very present with the current circumstances: what response do these circumstances require of you?
#3 Courage to build a new comfort zone of security
Even if you have connection and creativity – without courage, you may be tempted to do nothing! To successfully navigate change requires courage to create a new comfort zone in which you have peace of mind and security.
Put your plan into play. Be courageous enough to talk to the people in your life that you value and love. Be bold – ask for help, build a new network of support, and create the connections you need to succeed in the changes you are facing in your life.
It’s easy to hope that the change will pass and things will go back to how they always were: but as much as things never change, they are in a constant state of flux, ever-changing.
Have the courage to allow yourself and others around you to grow and evolve with the times.
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