One constant we can always count on is that life will not remain constant for long. Here are a few of the transitions happening in my world at the moment:
- My kids’ school year has ended
- My church Pastor is retiring at the end of June (yay for him, sad for me)
- My husband just started a new job
- My little sister turned 40 yesterday! (Yikes, I feel old).
- My niece is having a baby.
I’m sure you have a list of changes or transitions occurring in your world too. Life is not a static event, is it?
Change is inevitable. Change is also often associated with words like: hard, difficult, stressful. Have you noticed this? Our human brains like predictability and familiarity. And when we encounter the inevitable uncertainty and unpredictability of change, our mind works to make sense of the new feelings, new faces, new structure.
I watched this process unfold within my 8-year-old son recently. Several days in a row, in the midst of any random activity (dinner, homework, playing with his sister), he started crying. When I asked him what happened or what was wrong he said, “I don’t know. I just feel so sad.” So I cuddled him up and sat with him through his sadness and tears.
It took me a few days of this to realize that his tears and sadness were a reaction to the impending end of the school year. And while, of course, he could not wait for summer vacation and for school to be over, this presented him with a lot of uncertainty. For the past 180 days (not counting weekends and holidays) his daily doings were structured for him. Full of predictable patterns, events, & people.
Here’s the “so what.” Even when the change is something we’re looking forward to (summer vacation), our organism still has a reaction to “different.” Our reactions might include discomfort, concern, worry, fear, as well as excitement and anticipation. That’s a lot of energy and emotion moving!
How about you? What is your default thinking or default reaction to ‘different’? How are you at balancing your desire for certainty with your ability to be ok in uncertainty?
As with most everything, the process begins in our own minds. Here an exercise to leave you with:
- Uncertainty and change = something will be different. Different is neutral. Different only becomes something other than neutral when we attach thoughts of good, bad, worry, negative, positive, etc.
- Tune into your inner conversation around change. What is your inner dialogue like when something unpredictable happens in your day (i.e.: something gets canceled, someone needs something that you were not planning on providing today, someone in your life has their own plan for the day that seems in conflict with your plan, etc.). Write down the words or phrases you hear yourself thinking when you are presented with change or “different”.
- Look at what you wrote. What impact do these words/thoughts have on your emotions, attitude, behavior? Is that impact ok with you? If it’s not, what new thoughts or words would serve you better?
With all good wishes,
De Yarrison, CPCC