Change is an inevitable aspect of life. But for a lot people, including myself, it can cause some anxiety, fear or even stunt one’s growth. When we resist change, we are fighting against life. By doing so, we are not allowing life to flow with ease, which to me is the only way to live a happy life.
“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.”- Karen Kaiser Clark
Life is a continuous learning experience. When we fail to learn life lessons the first time, life will always finds a way to bring that lesson back into our lives, until we allow ourselves to surrender and embrace the lesson.
In the past few years my life has most definitely been shaken up. Losing a grandparent. Changing careers. Moving in with my mom. Losing friends. Seeing friends get married and have families of their own. Going through a breakup. And overall, simply questioning all of my decisions.
With all this change happening all around the same time, I felt overwhelmed. It seemed to me like life was challenging me as I transitioned into adulthood. Outside of the college bubble, I was faced with the real world. And it freaked me out. I questioned everything. Who was I, if I wasn’t in law school? Did I make the right decision by breaking up with my ex?
Everything I had known had changed in a very short period of time. I tried to cope the best I could, but I resisted the changes by isolating myself even more from my friends and family.
After leaving law school I thought I wanted to be a social worker, helping people. I managed to land a part-time job in the field, however, I was losing my interest in that career the more I stayed in that job. I realized that it’s okay to change my mind around my career. I had felt like I needed a definitive answer to what I want to do. But the truth is, there is no definitive answer. I’ve come to realize that all I have to do is what I love.
One summer when I came home in between semesters of law school, my grandma was really sick. And she got worse and worse. This was someone who meant the world to me. I’ve written about our close relationship here . So when she passed away the day after my 23rd birthday, I was devastated. And I was angry that I chose to go out to celebrate my birthday with my then-boyfriend instead of staying with her overnight.
Speaking of my then-boyfriend, we had a great relationship. We helped each other with exams in law school and it was nice to have someone who understood what I was going through. We got along great. But throughout our relationship I always felt like something was missing. It always felt comfortable, and I questioned my feelings for him. Until one night, after an unfortunate series of events at a Halloween party- I broke up with him. The next couple of weeks was a constant back and forth in my head of whether or not I had made the right decision, or was my fear of commitment the reason I pulled the plug on the relationship.
When my grades couldn’t keep pace with the requirements of my school, I moved back to the city that I grew up in. I have many friends who still live around the area and I thought things would be like nothing changed. But life decided to show me otherwise. Everyone seemed to be in a relationship, getting married, buying houses, having families. And here I was, the lone single girl terribly unprepared for the real world. I felt like a failure at adulting. Like there was a manual that everyone got but me.
All of these changes allowed for growth opportunities. And as much as I fought back and resisted each of these events in my life, I’ve since learned to embrace the impermanency of my life and the changes that come my way. Although, I must admit that embracing change is still something I struggle with. It’s something I have to consciously remind myself to do. To surrender it all to the infinite universe.
Here are 6 life lessons that I’ve learned on embracing change:
1. Reduce expectations
So, I am well aware that I have high expectations of myself. I had expected to be a successful lawyer, married with kids, living in a dream McMansion by the time I was in my late-twenties ( I’m 26 and single, and living with my mom, and still trying to secure a career path). But I’ve learned that things change.
You can have reasonable expectations of how you’d like something to turn out, but you can’t attach yourself to the outcome. Reducing or simply having no expectations about a relationship, a career, or a situation can help you accept whatever may come your way.
By setting reasonable expectations, you are better able to manage any changes that do come your way. Unreasonable expectations of life, however, are likely to be met with dissapointment, and pain.
2. Acknowledge change
I refused to believe that change was in the realm of possibility in a situation, leading to anxiety. I’ve since learned that change can happen quickly and at any point.
Be aware that change can happen in your life, and it can happen at any moment. This means understanding that things can and will be different from how they are now. This is probably the hardest aspect of change for me personally to accept. I love a routine. But my higher self knows that life is meant to be a teacher. To guide me towards creating a life that is beyond my wildest dreams. Acknowledging change is allowing it to happen when it unfolds as opposed to approaching it from a place of denial or resistance.
3. Accept change
For many years I desperately tried to prevent and stop change from happening. Instead of resisting, allow change to occur and try to understand what’s transforming and why.
Circumstances will not turn out the way you want them to, and that is perfectly okay. Embracing the situation can actually help you transform into a better version of yourself. Once you see how you can make the necessary shifts in your life to embrace the change, you help yourself move forward after the event.
Once I realized that breaking up with my ex was the best decision I could make at the time, I allowed myself to release all the negative emotions I was having towards myself. It allowed me to move forward with dating. I was able to see that being myself in a relationship is the most important thing I can do, and that it is possible for me to open up to someone (other than my therapist).
4. Learn from the experience
When you accept and embrace change, you begin to look and find lessons.
Once I was able to reflect on all the changes that were happening in my life, instead of resisting them and feeling distraught and lacking any meaning, I saw what life was doing. It was teaching me lessons so that I could grow into a better version of myself. Just like a child needs to fall down to understand how to get up, the same is true as an adult. Sometimes we have to fall in certain aspects of our lives so that we can become stronger and pick ourselves back up.
Change becomes your greatest teacher, but only if you give yourself permission to learn.
5. Recognize your strength
By embracing change, you simultaneously grow stronger. The ability to continuously accept change allows you to become strong and resilient to any storms hat come your way- even if/when you are afraid.
6. Embrace the wisdom
As I permitted change and impermanence into my life, the more I grew as a person. As I’ve come to slowly embrace change, I can see my strength towards change grow.
When you proactively embrace change and learn to accept it, you are filled with even more calmness, peace, and courage. By no means have I reached a place of wisdom, or inner peace in all aspects of my life. I am continuously working through my aversions to change. I now am more willing to open myself up to change and embrace it with open arms.
It’s when we accept and learn from changes in our lives that we can become all the better for experienceing change. Change no longer is our enemy, it becomes a teacher, guiding us through life.
Now, I’d love to hear from you. Do you struggle with embracing change in your life? If so, please take these tips and apply them in your life. Let me know how it goes. Also, if you’ve struggled in the past with resisting change, please share how you overcame the resistance and learned to embrace change. The more we can all talk about our struggles, the more we all can grow. Please leave all your wonderful comments below. I love hearing all your feedback and comments. Let’s continue this conversation in the comments below.
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P.S. Enjoy the Oscars tonight, I have my DVR ready and set to record!! Is it finally Leo’s year to win? We will all find out!!