“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anais Nin
Most people hate change. We’re comfortable with the familiar.
We like things to be what we expect, and making changes can bring out fear and uncertainty. It can be easy to just keep our lives the same, even if it means denying that there’s something deeply wrong.
It could be a job or a relationship or a secret. We can choose to keep our heads down and just keep going, doing the best we can with the circumstances as they are.
Or we can choose to change.
I speak from a place of love and understanding for the people out there who are keeping their heads down and just working with what they’ve got. Sometimes we’re just not ready to make changes. Some of us will never change. We’ll do whatever it takes to avoid it. And there are those of us on the verge of a spectacular transformation, whether we want to be or not.
I spent years living a life that was far removed from what I truly wanted. I just kept my head down, and I didn’t see what I didn’t want to see. I had chosen a career that didn’t suit my soul. I had stopped chasing a dream that lived deep inside of me. I stayed in a marriage where I felt like little more than a convenience, one that lacked true partnership. I simply didn’t know how to change my entire life to make it what I needed.
But the change came for me.
Sure, I could have stayed unhappy. But when I finally realized that everything was falling apart, I could no longer keep my eyes shut to the truth. The only factor that had changed was that I had children. I looked at them, and I knew that I had to open my eyes and create a better life for us. I would have to do it from scratch, with limited assistance. I knew it would be tough, but I knew it would be right. And so I embraced the change, even though it scared me. Even though it shook me to my very core.
And we thrived.
Sometimes when we avoid change it’s because we don’t yet have the coping skills we need to deal with what’s ahead. When that happens, it becomes imperative that we develop those coping skills so that we can be ready for the changes that will come.
This isn’t easy. When I worked as a family therapist, every family’s treatment plan involved some type of coping skill. And it’s important to have more than one. We need to have as many as we can at hand to handle whatever life throws at us. And on the verge of a change, there will be a number of obstacles that will challenge our ability to cope.
We can learn to communicate effectively, to meditate, to express our anger in healthy ways, to calm ourselves, to think before we speak. We can do so many things to prepare ourselves for a transition, especially when we know that we won’t be able to keep our heads down much longer. At the end of our rope, we have to have faith that what coping skills we don’t yet have, we’ll develop along the way.
And when we choose to change, we have to figure out how to trust our intuition. Most of us stop trusting it somewhere along the way, caught up in those life situations we can’t quite figure out how to escape. But when we make the change and reach for that core of authenticity and truth, we have to rely on our instincts. We have to trust that our intuition will not steer us wrong.
And intuition is not that inner voice that tells us what we want to hear. That’s just ego. And it’s not the critical voice that speaks from our fears. No, our intuition is the voice that tells us what we need to hear and guides us toward the type of lives that we need.
But to be ready for change, to understand what is intuition and what isn’t, we have to be ready to confront all of the things about ourselves that we don’t like. We have to own our mistakes and stop trying to pass off accountability for our lives to someone else. We must quit blaming others, stop shaming ourselves and learn to accept our life choices with understanding and love. And then we must make different choices, going forward, to create the lives we want to live.
The truth is that the moment we realize that we need to change, we are ready and it’s only our fear holding us back. Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown. Fear of confronting our own role in the lives we’ve led up to that point. Fear of what people will think. Fear of never getting what we want. Those fears can erode our lives if we let them.
The moment I chose the difficult change and stopped allowing life to be something that just happened to me, the moment I took on the personal responsibility for creating a better life, my stress level dropped. It was actually easier to surrender to the change and start making tough choices than to sit with the struggle of whether or not to do it. Once I stepped beyond my fear, I was free. And I mean it when I say that we thrived. My entire world opened up, and I live in gratitude for that.
That’s not to say that there weren’t tough moments along the way or that I didn’t have days where I wanted to crawl under the covers and stay there until everything stopped hurting. There was a lot of uncertainty, but there was also possibility for the first time in a long time, and I allowed that to give me hope. I chose hope, not fear, and I began to trust my intuition.
Choosing change isn’t easy, and I won’t pretend that it is. It’s real, and it’s raw. It won’t make everyone happy, and it won’t let us avoid the judgment of others. People will tell us that we’re wrong and point out all of the bad things that could happen when we choose a new road. We truly choose change when we realize staying in those lives is so much harder than the fear and uncertainty of leaving them. When we get to that point, we’re ready for the hard work. Just like we’re ready to receive all of the rewards that will manifest when we honor our core selves and trust the intuition that will never lead us astray.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Hillary Boles/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman