by Helaine Iris
To be able to look at change as an opportunity to grow--that is the secret to being happy.” Joan Lunden
As I stepped outside this morning for my daily power walk the brisk October air braced my cheeks. The deep, fragrant aromas of wood smoke and dying leaves; autumn in New England filled me with an unexpected joy and appreciation for the season. I looked around at the spectacular, vivid color of the trees. My sneakers kicked through the crinkly red, orange and brown piles waiting to be raked. I remembered that I use to hate fall.
Fall meant death, the end of summer, my favorite time of year. I was a summer person flourishing in the bounty of life at its fullest. Every year, falls approach signaled to me an ending, a time to let go and I didn’t look forward to it.
As I was walking and breathing deeply in the beauty of the morning I began to experience my relationship with the changing seasons as a metaphor for my life. I began to think about how well we as a culture celebrate birth, youth and new beginnings and how we’re taught to fear death, change and endings.
Recently, I had an experience where my affiliation with an organization dear to me was complete. It had become clear that it was time to let go and move on. The change would mean a decrease of revenue, as well as a loss of supportive associates. Naturally, I was conflicted about making the decision to leave and felt some pain in the separation. I wondered how I would compensate for the change, and what I would replace the emptiness with where a once thriving opportunity lived.
Then yesterday, I worked with a client who absolutely hates her job. She dreads going to work each day and is miserable, yet with growing certainty is clear she needs a career change. She’s been struggling with this dilemma for months and is terrified to take a step to change her life.
What became clear was the enormous resistance most of us have to change and how much suffering it causes in our lives.
Is your first impulse to avoid change or to resist endings and hold on to something longer than is healthy or useful?
Here is a practice that helps me make friends with endings and change:
1. Start by looking into your past. Can you honestly say that any change you’ve made didn’t leave you in a better place than you imagined? By realizing this you will build positive evidence that change is most often a good thing.
2. Next, take an inventory of what you are afraid to let go of. What do you think you might lose by ending or changing your situation? You might be right, AND, by bringing what you fear into the light you can more realistically evaluate if it is a true consideration or simply a fear.
3. Now, look at what you are making the change mean. For example, “I’m a failure at relationships”, I’ll never be satisfied with any job, I’ll regret…” Ask yourself and see if these self-defeating statements are really true.
4. Finally, make a list of all the possible benefits to be gained by making the change. Also consider how this change could benefit those in your world. If you were happier or less stressed, what would the ripple effect be?
By using this practice I let go of my business affiliation. I took a deep breath and moved on. Within about two weeks I had a new opportunity full of promise and excitement drop into my lap.
I’m learning to appreciate change and endings much in the way I find the colors of fall leaves beautiful. The dying of leaves produces the breathtaking color. Without it there would be no chance of birth and new beginnings in the spring.
Fall. Bring it on. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
It’s YOUR life…imagine the possibilities!
See Also: Turning Obstacles Into Blessings