I am not a big fan of change. Even good changes can stress me out. But change is inevitable in life. Change is growth. But my natural response to change is to either resist, avoid, or deny that it is even happening or try to control that change through organizing, planning, and scheduling.
In America, it is highly valued to be able to react quickly, think on your feet, and be flexible (meaning embracing change and moving on without problems). But I’ve come to realize that this is not one of my strengths. If anything change in my life has taught me three things.
I need processing time to organize my new normal. This may be a bit over-analytical, but every change, big or small, creates a slightly (or hugely) new normal. Whether it’s getting up or going to bed at a different time or sleeping in a new place. Whether it’s a new friendship or the fading of an old friendship. I realize that I need to take time to grieve what is changing and let it go to move into my new normal. Depending on what it is, that time could be a few minutes to a few months. But giving myself space and grace to process it really helps me in the long run.
I need to adjust my expectations. I have a tendency to think in extremes. But facing change, there is always a balance. I can acknowledge the hard parts without idealizing the good that may also come with change. I can also open my eyes to the blessings in the midst of storms. When I lost my daughters, I knew that I would be entering into a new normal without them here. Looking for the good in everyday moments reminded me that this new normal would not be all bad. I would get stronger. I would have days in the future that I would be able to remember them and honor them. And I also knew that I would have face down, fetal position, ugly crying moments as well. And that all of these moments were going to be a part of this new normal, a balance that I could completely embrace without shame or naivete.
I need to recognize that the next change is coming. Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, said: “Change is the only constant in life.” It’s really easy for me to get comfortable in my daily rhythms and routines. But remembering that change is going to happen again allows me to slow down and embrace today. Nothing that I’m experiencing today is forever. Just looking back through this blog, I see moments like saying goodbye to our Boxer or changing the flooring in our living room. Nothing really stays the same for very long. Plus, slowing down allows me to work in the processing time that I need. If I’ve filled my days with busyness, then I can get overwhelmed with unexpected change happens. So, I create margins ahead of time.
Slowing down and resisting the urge to fill up my calendar or try to be busy all the time is probably the biggest help for me when it comes to new changes in my life. To create that margin of rest and allow me to process and adjust. Of course, this is what has worked for me, what I’ve learned through the changes in my life. I don’t always react to change well, but each time is an opportunity for growth, so even if I completely mess up, I can walk away learning a little more about myself and the world around me.