Change is constant, and is happening all around us, all the time. The landscape of our cities and streets are filled with construction signs as new roads are paved and neighborhoods change into the more modern examples of living and styles. Rules change, situations change, and most of all people change. But are we accepting and embracing change?
While this constant change may not always be for the best, change is a part of life that we must learn to embrace. As we mature, we learn and grow as individuals, and this has a significant impact on our character. We may change jobs, relationships, move into a new home, suffer the loss of loved ones, deal with our changing and aging bodies, break-off old friendships or make new ones, and of course change ourselves. There are many examples of change around us, and day in and out, we will face a form of change.
In order to grow and reach our goals, we must understand the nature of change and why it can be so difficult. Change often sets off a panic button in our minds, where we attempt to escape it, like it is a danger to our well-being. Human beings are wired for consistency and predictability, so when this is interrupted, we go into fight-or-flight mode. We fight to keep things familiar while attempting to remove the predator: change. But this line of thinking and responding to the changes around us will most often leave us confused and stuck, which is the flight aspect, moving away from change. We will not grow, mature, and develop into the adults we want to become if we mistakenly believe that we can ignore change.
The effects of change can also be challenging to absorb. We lose a loved one and it changes the course of our lives forever. This is true, as I reflect on the sudden loss of my mother earlier this year, and it has been one of the most difficult things I have had to face. The sudden shift in my notion of a normal life was shaken. Emotions, thoughts, fears, and actions are all over the place when we are grieving. However, this is a form of change that is completely uncontrollable and one we have to cope with, even through the pain. While our loved ones are no longer here with us, we are still alive and have people counting on us to continue on, so we have to find peace with the loss and also peace with the emotions. This is a change that will have a lasting impact on us.
Predictable changes also occur, and we can try to plan for them. When we have worked and studied diligently for years and it is time to graduate, we can look forward to the changes associated with having a degree. When we are planning to move or have purchased a home, we can plan for the changes that follow relocation. When we are planning a wedding or are having children, we can also do our best to plan for these life events. We can plan and save money for specific purposes or rainy days, and plan for those changes as well. There are many opportunities for change that we can anticipate, embrace, and welcome into our lives.
One thing is certain though: we will face changes, sudden or predictable. Another less obvious change is the way that we think. We can expect that our thoughts will change each day. The positive or negative connotation that follows our experiences are often unknown. Sometimes we will feel great about life and other times not as excited. We can expect times of physical sickness, fatigue, and hardship. There is no person alive who gets through life unscathed, without the bumps and bruises of their challenges, successes, setbacks, and changes. But these are the exact types of changes that we have to accept and learn how to work through while we are going through them. Is it easy, no, but it is possible.
When we mentally accept something, it can be easier to bear. When we accept and understand that the winter season is likely cold, dark, and filled with snow, we can bear with the challenge of getting through these seasonal months and embrace the spring season that follows. When we accept the hard facts of our lives and the things we cannot change, we can let down our fight-or-flight line of thinking and respond with the understanding that we need to adapt instead of resisting these particular changes. If we can apply this acceptance to our thinking and acting, we can experience some peace when the negativity creeps up on us and be patient enough to allow it to move on. It is often when we think that our lives must be perfect and that our negative thoughts mean that something is wrong with us, that we struggle with learning how to identify these negative thoughts and practice more positive thinking in its place.
Change is definitely constant, but accepting change must be consistent too.
If you cannot look back on your life and recognize changes within yourself, then you may be struggling with accepting change. You should not be the same person at age 20 that you are now at age 30 or 40. There are many life experiences in-between these ages, which should contribute to the growth and maturity of who you are today and are becoming tomorrow. I have always been challenged by people, especially adults, who profess to be the same person they were back then as they are today. I sincerely hope not. You may have some of the same morals and convictions, but you simply cannot be the same person or even try to be. This is person caught up in fight-or-flight mode.
Its time to begin to improve the way that you perceive change. Just as the landscape around us changes, often without our input or permission, we must also accept change and learn to flow along with it. Fighting to accept the changes around us will lead to a life of frustration, and many life goals might also be unfulfilled. Fleeing from issues of change only contributes to being stuck and unable to grow in the ways that we need to, as adults. Accepting that negative thoughts will arise, that we will endure unfortunate circumstances, and that we all face the challenges associated with change, can be the first step to becoming the best version of ourselves possible.