Have you had seasons in life when everything went just as you thought it should? Perhaps it was something you planned which worked out really well, or maybe it wasn’t even that deliberate – life just bobbed along nicely for a while…
Aren’t those times great?!
When relationships are fulfilling, we’re killing it at work, we look in the mirror and think ‘YESS!’, we have time to ourselves, the bank balance is healthy, the kids are on a good streak – we feel happy and rightly so!
In short, when our experiences match our expectations there’s balance.
However life evolves, seasons come and go, and in one form or another, change comes knocking. With each subtle (or monumental) shift, the balance is altered and an adjustment in the story of our life occurs.
Changes we want are easier to roll with.
Changes we don’t, are not.
Responding to unsolicited change
It could be said that life is a never-ending journey of navigating unsolicited change. Though that sounds slightly Eyeore for me (Winnie-the-Pooh?), in many ways it’s true!
As humans, we are hard-wired for pleasure and the avoidance of pain. Change is usually painful (even if it’s mild), so we seek to avoid it at all costs. The thing about change is that it is often the gateway to better things (wouldn’t you know).
Think about your own life, has there been a time you went through hell, hated every minute, it probably cost you big, you’d wish it on no one, but now you’re the other side you realise it was the best thing that could have happened?
The change and the pain are the reason you’re the incredible person you are today.
And yeah – it sucks.
Most of us would probably agree that at the root of our feelings about change are all the unknowns.
We don’t know if the medication is going to work, if the investment is going to be a sound one, if the kids will get on well at the next school, if the new boss is going to appreciate us the same way the old one did, if people will love our new idea as much as we do. We don’t know if we’ll make it through.
How we respond to all the things we are uncertain of is what matters. The story we tell ourselves about the change is crucial and that story will be driven by our individual make-up.
So for example, someone who needs to be in total control of their world might normally thrive on routine. They get their sense of person from knowing how those around them will (or won’t) behave, that they’re the strongest on the team, or that they have life in order. They are certain of themselves and even their weaknesses.
Much of their outlook stems from a dominant need for certainty which isn’t a bad thing in itself; we all have the need, but just find different ways to meet it. As such, they may find difficulty in times of change which threatens their very certain world.
Change brings with it a whole host of uncertainties. Mentoring people in this situation I would encourage clients to consider all the positive things they could be sure of, i.e to load the story they’re telling themselves. In addition, I’d offer that they consider underlying thought patterns that mean everything has to adhere to such a tight ship of certainty.
In contrast, people who are more laid back or who don’t need to be certain of everything in order to be OK, may view change as more of a challenge and feel more readily positive toward it.
The two approaches to change are totally different. Consequently, if you were the one breaking news to these two people, you’d do it in very different ways.
We can never halt lifes complexities, but we can learn to be aware and more mindful of our response. In doing so, we not only deliberately edit our own story, but that of those who follow us.