The Process of Change for the Better

Change is often initiated by feelings of restlessness, irritability and boredom. What used to satisfy you no longer interests you. Some of the people you enjoyed being around are so annoying you can’t wait to get away from them. Frustration is another instigator of change: you keep trying and failing to achieve a goal, as when you search for a job and all the doors close. Or (unknowingly) you hold on to a relationship that’s dead and gone and then wonder why you can’t move forward.

If you are not in tune with the forces that are pushing you to let go of the past you may interpret discomfort as the need to move, leave a job, marriage or relationship, get involved with groups or causes, or travel around the world. Sometimes external action is what you need to take, but until you identify the internal source of your malaise you’ll repeat the past wherever you go or whatever you do.

When you are unsure about what to do the temptation is to distract yourself from the confusion, rather than figure out which part of you is arguing with the authentic self. Ignoring your freedom loving self forces it to take drastic measures to get your attention, such as attracting an event that shakes you to the core: an accident, a boss fires you, a friend or relative lets you down, a spouse walks out, or an illness stops you in your tracks.

Like most people, your first reaction to an upsetting event is to feel scared and out of control, as though you have no power in the situation. While it is true that there are some events over which you have no control, you do have control over how you respond to the unexpected. This alone may tell you what you need to change about yourself.

The Freedom Urge

We all crave stability, but too much stability is antithetical to life – the freedom you feel when your heart and soul are fully engaged in what you are doing. In fact, once you get past the shock of whatever altered your world you realize the reversal forced you to become aware of structures that held you back from self-expression, such as the belief that you could not survive without what or who left your life. Not only do you survive, you thrive without the illusion of security. In some cases, the transformation is so profound people who “knew you when” may not recognize the person you are today. Here you have the payoff that follows adversity: absent the disruption, you would not have changed for the better.

Resistance to Change

A conservative outlook on life is programmed into the primal part of our brains as protection. To survive, stick with what you know even when it no longer works. The assumption is that change equates with the word worse. For example, when you think of the word change what is your first thought? Most likely you feel uneasy, unless you connect change with a positive outcome, how you’ll look in a new wardrobe, being with a friend who has the same values, or working in a job that uses your strengths and pays well.