There’s no doubt; re-framing your thoughts about change makes a difference. There are some people in the world who seem to embrace and immediately welcome the shifts that happen with change. But I think it’s safe to say that for most people, it’s a struggle.
Whenever a change occurs – whether it’s in or out of our control, we often don’t know where that change is going to take us. The unknown is a huge source of fear for women who are striking out on their own; sometimes because of a divorce, a job change or the next chapter in life that occurs as a result of kids leaving for college.If you look at the examples I’ve given, there is loss associated with all of them. This is not a bad thing. Ending a marriage that is not good for you or finding a new workplace where you are appreciated are good things; but the fact is, there IS an ending. And with most endings there is a feeling of being off balance and anxious.
I’ve had many major transitions in my life – and many were not easy to experience. The loss of my parents at a young age, my divorce after realizing that I was gay, and now I have a daughter who is moving to another state and a son who is leaving for college. When I think about these things, I can honestly say that there was a period of grieving involved with all of them. There is loss and a change in a role I played in life. It makes perfect sense that changes like these can bring discomfort and anxiety.
So what is the secret for moving past the fear and discomfort? It’s learning how to detach from the emotions you are feeling long enough to look for the meaning that you’re attaching to the event. If you view change only as a threat and have stayed in a place of mourning and imagined possible negative outcomes, how will you ever move towards acceptance and the good things that may await you?
What I’d like for you to consider is consciously reframing the meaning of the changes taking place in your life. For instance, I feel very sad about my kids leaving, but I keep telling myself that in my daughter’s case, it is a chance to for her to grow in ways that would be difficult if she stayed here. She’ll become more confident, have some wonderful new adventures, and I know we’ll still keep in frequent contact. I am trying to balance the sadness I’m feeling with joy for HER. My son’s leaving will leave our house quiet. I love the positive energy he brings with him. I love his presence. But it’s time for him to go back to a place HE loves. And it’ll be my job to fill the space he leaves with other positive things.
While the changes in my life that will happen as a result of their leaving in a week’s time seem huge, they also bring opportunities for my partner and me and to doing new and different things. These changes are creating a new phase of my life that seems a little overwhelming right now, but I know in the long run that both my children and I will be fine.
I’d like to leave you a few words of advice:
- Allow yourself the time to work through the emotions that come with change.
- List and focus on the positives that could result from the transition you’re in.
- Seek the support of people who care about you.
- Ask for help from a professional if you feel stuck and unable to get out of the negativity.
- Participate in things that bring you joy and enable you to have some sense of control (if you’re feeling out of control).
So, when you experience your next transition, notice if you are only focusing on the negatives. What new positive meaning can you assign to the changes taking place? You can resist, but change will often happen with or without your cooperation. Why not look for the possible great results? There is power in your attitude toward change. Whether it’s positive or negative is up to you.