If you want to feel more resilient when navigating change, knowing what is coming your way will build your confidence and ability to feel like you can "bounce back" from any curve ball thrown your way.
I'm going to be writing about the change process. Understanding and embracing the different parts of this process was a big Ah-Ha moment for me during life coach training. It gives me the acceptance I need to keep taking action and to stay the course. Just like every winter we know there will eventually be a spring, I can stick out through the trials and tribulations because I know something is coming eventually.
Change is a process, it goes through phases. At any given moment we are in some part of this process. It doesn’t always move in a linear way, but most of the time it will follow this order. There is no set duration for how long each time period lasts, but each phase has its own distinct characteristics and those remain mostly the same every time you go through it. These parts are commonalities for most people.
I'm going to guide you through the parts of the change cycle to help you identify where you are right now, and how to move through that period. Simply identifying where you are in this process will help you deal with change. If you know where you are and you accept the characteristics of that phase, you have actually accomplished a lot! This change cycle is how it was presented to us in life coach training by Martha Beck.
Think about change like the life cycle of a caterpillar. It is completely natural for the caterpillar to change into a butterfly. It doesn’t have to think about the process, it just happens. It’s also out of the caterpillar’s control. There is nothing it can do to slow down or change the process. It just happens.
The first step is the caterpillar going into its cocoon. In our lives, there is usually an inciting incident that triggers the first step of the change process. We are normally living our lives, enjoying what is, and suddenly we are thrown into change. The incident could be getting fired from your job (or quitting), a breakup, a move, having a baby, etc. Something has happened and it changed how we once lived our lives.
Did you know that when a caterpillar goes into its cocoon it dissolves? Its entire molecular structure must dissolve and fall apart so that it can become something else. The old must die in order for there to be a rebirth of the new. This is true for caterpillars and it is true for humans.
Yes, it is really scary to hear that we must "die" in order to change. It’s scary because we don’t know what is on the other side. We don’t even know what “Death” looks like. You might be asking, “How do I know if I really died? How do I know that I let go of everything from the old? If I let go of everything, can I speed this up? I’m really freakin’ uncomfortable.”
These questions are all normal because you are literally in a meltdown. We feel like our future is uncertain and that our life is completely out of control. Nothing feels “right.” We try to resist the meltdown by pushing the feelings away or rush into some other form of what used to be normal (this is the classic “rebound relationship”).
But the only way out is to go through. Allow this part to happen, let the old self melt away. Trust that the new is coming, and that it is coming in its own perfect timing.
Everyone always wants to know what they can “do” during this phase. I am using quotations because there isn’t much to do. It’s an internal change, and I understand the compulsion to do something to help the process or to make it less uncomfortable.
Well, my sweet darlings, there is really not much to do. Accept where you’re at and focus on what is right in front of you. You’re going to live one day at a time. And when one day feels hard, you are just going to focus on the next 10 minutes. Are you safe right now? What do you need to do for the next 10 minutes to be ok?
If you’re in the meltdown phase, I highly encourage you to take care of yourself. Nurture yourself like you are your own parent and you’re having a really bad sick day. Wrap yourself in a warm blanket, make some soup or tea. Get extra sleep and drink more water. Take a long bath. Let yourself have a grieving period. It is a death, after all. Give yourself time to mourn what was (and what will never be if you need to let go of a vision of what you thought you were going to be).
Grieving is natural. Anything that you’re feeling during this time is natural- anger, sadness, denial, avoidance, fear and more. Notice those feelings and let yourself have them. If you let yourself actually feel the feeling without repressing it the feeling will last less than 60 seconds. If you let it just move through, it will pass. Have you ever seen a baby go from happy to sad and back to happy all within 5 minutes? It’s because that’s how we experience feelings without attaching stories to them. Let yourself have the feelings and let them move through without attaching to the story of what it means. Let it go.
Trust the process, my friend. There isn’t anything you need to do. It’s all going to happen without you controlling it. I also recommend not bracing yourself for impact. Take some deep breaths, and allow. You don’t have anything you need to do in this moment except take care of yourself.
I promise you that even though it feels scary and hard right now, everything is going to be ok.
If this doesn't sound like where you are right now in your life, don't worry. I will be going through the other three parts of the change cycle in the coming weeks! Stay tuned.
Do you know someone that was recently thrust into the throes of the change cycle? Someone that maybe went through a breakup, a new job, or a new home? Maybe they are smiling through it, but you have a hunch that maybe they just need to hear that what they're going through is completely normal. Please share this email with them. Forward it and share the love.
Did you find this blog post helpful? Do you want to increase the love in your life? It all starts with yourself, which is why I created a simple self love meditation. Claim yours here and get more love immediately.