Become Unsinkable – Learn Ways to Handle Major Change.
Posted by: Sue Atkins
It’s Time to Let Go of What Was…
I work with many parents going through the trauma of divorce or major life changes and many of the people I coach are stuck.
Today I have been feeling ‘stuck’ myself as I’m not very happy with the Government Guidelines about going back to work and reopening schools.
So, I thought I would re work an article I wrote about divorce to help me, and you, hopefully embrace a new mindset around change.
We are living through a time of enormous challenge and change.
We are frightened.
We are scared.
We miss loved ones.
We have embraced new ways of working, living and communicating.
As human beings we are enormously creative, flexible and adaptive.
I have just been listening to a debate on the BBC about how schools in Denmark have adapted to returning to school and managing the virus with children of all ages and prioritising safety for all members of staff.
Not all change is bad.
Some changes are to be welcomed, embraced & embedded into our new ‘normal’ going forward.
But new ways of being need new ways of thinking.
The reason that some people feel stuck (is perfectly normal as life has changed beyond measure) – is that they resist new ways of reframing their situations whether they instigated the change or not.
We, of course, did not instigate this massive change to our very wellbeing but we need to take ownership of our reaction to the circumstances and make decisions based on our own intuition and responsible responses to the new ways out of lock down.
Life will never be the same but holding on to the negative events of the past and wishing things were different or dwelling on what happened is NOT going to change the past or help you move forward.
Nothing is going to change the past.
But how you react now will definitely change & influence your future!
Although I know what it’s like to go round and round in your head wishing it was different, wishing you had changed that, kept on top of that, been more aware of that, listened to that, not delegated that, not trusted that ….
Not one of these messages will help you heal but they will definitely keep you swirling in the mire of mixed feelings and keep you stuck.
Holding on to your past will dramatically affect your present and will definitely and inevitably affect your future.
Decide Which Direction to Take.
When a traumatic event occurs in our lives, we have a choice to make:
Do we suffer through it all and quickly run back to safety and the way it was before – manufacturing the same or similar patterns of how it was before the lock down?
Staying within our Comfort Zone and hoping and praying that we will never have to go through THAT again.
The trouble is that the Safety Zone isn’t very fulfilling as it is often filled with the mundane and the predicable and with feelings of repetitiveness, loneliness, unhappiness and where it’s where emptiness can creep in – but at least it’s a safe, predicable place.
Do we choose to take the brave, uncertain path and leave behind the past and let go of “what was” and learn to grow, learn, understand and look for the lessons in the challenging experience?
Do we take the “ in – between” path – where you suffer through the calamity, hang on for dear life during the white knuckle ride through the rapids only to stop half way and sit on the fence – stuck between a new life full of new opportunities and stuck between clinging on to security and your old way of life full of familiarity and safety.
In other words, you want to take the big leap of faith but fear is holding you back.
This is the toughest place to be – as it is fraught with anxiety, fear, doubt, longing, despair and sadness as well as excitement & uncertainty.
This is the most confusing place of all to be.
I find many people on my workshops fall into this category.
They know that they want to make a change but they are unsure of what steps to take to move in a new direction.
They are suffering from fear – fear of letting go, fear of the unknown, fear of making a mistake, fear of getting something wrong, fear of what others will think or say, fear of looking silly, pathetic or foolish, fear of being happy again!
Fear is perfectly normal.
Fear doesn’t simply go away by having a drink, walking in the woods, talking to a good friend, or eating a cream cake – as fear wakes you up in the middle of the night at 3 am biting into your stomach and transfixing you with anxiety.
Shift Your Relationship to Fear.
But what you can do is shift your relationship with fear.
Instead of retreating when your feel afraid, feel excited.
When you feel fear creeping in, embrace it and move towards it and breath.
Stay centred, stay grounded and change the language and words you use inside your head deliberately.
So instead of saying “I feel completely frozen in fear” try saying “I’m feeling a bit apprehensive about what’s happening next”
Instead of saying “I’m terrified” say “I’m a bit unsure at the moment”
Fear of failure has one thing in common with all of our other fears: It is a feeling and not a fact so change your language to one of understatement and watch your fear subside.
I am not underestimating the devastation of losing loved ones, worrying about mounting debt, worrying about your elderly relatives or the impact of this virus on your children’s childhood memories but I am asking you to pause to ponder the way you view this ‘Reset Button’ on all our lives – as mental resilience & your sense of wellbeing can be changed by the words you use to describe events in your life as words affect your mood and mindset.
I found Ruby Wax’s book and ‘Frazzled Café to be a good place to hang out.
Ruby has an MA in mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural therapy and wrote her best-seller A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled in 2016.