Life transitions and change are an inevitable part of life; in our world, we are facing changes to our earth, our economy, our technology and even how we communicate. Even typing out this blog invites anxiety and worry into my own system while thinking about how rapidly my life has changed over the past few years, and how much change is still ahead of me. Change can feel nerve-wrecking; it can make us feel like we are out of control of our lives. Even the transitions that we have a say in (e.g., beginning a new relationship, starting a new job, moving to a new place) still brings up feelings of discomfort and fear. Change goes hand in hand with life’s transitions, and it’s scary! It is unknown territory and it may bring up stories of “I’m not good enough”, “I can’t do this” or “I’m not safe”. Why is this? What is it about life transitions that leave us feeling panicked and out of control?
For those who have experienced trauma, change may trigger your lizard brain, making you feel as out of control as when you were experiencing the trauma, which leads to a fight-or-flight response. When we have these reactions, it triggers our anxiety and other feelings and reactions associated with the trauma. We’re humans, and humans generally try to avoid discomfort. Bringing awareness to your present moment experience may seem like the absolute last thing you want to do when you’re feeling so uncomfortable, but it drastically can help soften the reactions when we try to do so. By engaging in therapy, I can help you learn to gage which moments it is appropriate to have those fight-or-flight responses, as well as those moments that it does not serve you, such as when you’re experiencing a normal life transition.
We can choose to be swept away by these changes, or we can choose to face our part that is so fearful and dreading the change and get curious about it! What is this part of you saying? What is it afraid of? What does it need? A very difficult idea to accept in life is that change is inevitable and it’s all a part of the journey. Discomfort in the face of change is a natural human reaction, and when we can offer ourselves compassion and understanding, we can work through whatever emotions arise in the face of change.
Life transitions and change is where growth happens, which can also be tough! Personal growth involves asking yourself those really difficult questions about life and about who you are. Without personal growth and change, our lives remain stagnant. I believe that a life worth living is a life that honors your own authenticity; to be truly, unapologetically authentic requires personal growth and a shifting of the mindset on change – from seeing it as scary and out of your control to seeing it as a new opportunity for growth. One of my most favorite quotes comes from the mind of Napoleon Hill, which says, “That is one of the tricks of opportunity. It has a sly habit of slipping in by the back door, and often it comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat. Perhaps this is why so many fail to recognize opportunity”.