What is Change all about?
Change is a word that we hear regularly in the media. People need to change their habits to get healthier. People need to change their beliefs to heal from depression. People need to change their politics. People need to adapt to technological advances. People need to be more open minded.
When it comes down to it, most of us are creatures of habit. We like a certain amount of security in our lives and we will avoid change if possible.
But there are times in our lives when change is essential. You may be suffering from a serious disease or illness and have to change and develop new habits. Your partner may leave you or die and you have to go out into the world again as a single person. You may lose your job of 10 years and find yourself without financial security. You may have been told you have the beginnings of heart disease and that you have to lose weight and stop smoking. Or maybe your teenage son is behaving badly and it’s upsetting you in a way that affects how you are. Or maybe you can see that if you don’t change your relationship will never be fulfilling. I could go on with example after example. What it comes down to is how do you handle change?
So what determines our ability to adapt to change?
Having worked in the healthcare industry now for nearly 25 years I have observed many different responses.
1. The Ostrich
We all recognize this person. They do everything they can to ignore the change often because they feel helpless and un-resourceful. If it’s pain they take a pain killer. If it’s their partner they pretend everything is ok. If it’s their job, they smile, grimace and tell everyone things are just fine. Even when the bank account hit’s zero they still won’t acknowledge that anything is wrong.
2. The Blamer
These people have a different approach. They are like the ostrich in that they don’t want to change but now they are looking for whose fault it is. Or why has is happened. They put all their energy into dissociating from the situation or symptom they don’t lie and make sure it’s not their fault. But they still don’t change.
3. The Champion
This person sees change as an opportunity to get stronger, to achieve and to be courageous. They hit the problem square on. They have an objective they want to achieve and “whatever it takes” they will take whatever actions are needed to get there.
4. The Magician
This person takes change in their stride. They know that change is part of life and they have handled it before and will handle it again. They look for the gifts in the challenge. They look for the learnings. They look for new opportunities. Change is handled with grace and ease. It is effortless.
So how come some people can handle anything and seem “bullet proof” whilst others fall at the first hurdle, get stressed and melt-down. Or sometimes it that in certain areas of our life – say work, we’re great at working with change, yet in our personal lives we’re rubbish.
You might be an Ostrich at home and a Champion at work. It’s good to observe where we need help and where we have things sorted.
So what’s going on?
In our body, every thought or emotion is supported by congruent behaviours and postures. Every behaviour has corresponding emotional responses and posturing. Every posture influences how we think, feel and act.
The biggest question is – what comes first? The posture? The behaviour? Or the thoughts and emotions?
You may know the answer and already be one of those who just glides through life. Or you may want more depth of understand as to how you can handle change more effectively.
Donny Epstein proposes that we all have a recipe for change that works, a recipe to keep things the same and a destructive recipe. The order you place your focus on either behaviours, structures or thoughts and emotions has an impact on your physiology and your ability to handle change.
What can I do about this?
Think of a time when you made massive change. Was it easy? If so, where was your focus? Was it on how you felt and thought, what needed to be done or did you have a clear goal and plan? Or was it hard but you still did it?
Then think of something you’ve been trying to change for years – maybe a habit or destructive thought pattern. What happens when you put your focus on that thing? Do you feel that change is possible?
Observe where you put your focus - what you felt, what you did or the plan you had? Whichever one gives you the most energy is your starting point. So when change doesn't happen easily we are often focusing on what doesn't work for us. For example: you want to stop smoking but keep failing. Your focus on on the behaviour. Some people need to focus on how they would feel if they stopped smoking or what they would be able to do when they stop. Others need to change their surroundings, hang out with different friends, reorganized the structure of their life. It's about finding the fuel for change and using it. That's something many of us find difficult.
We all know that changes happens whether we like it or not. The question is more, do you have the strategies in your life to make change easy or does it drain your resources.
Watch for articles and workshops on the Triad of Change and the Energetic Intelligences for more information on change and see how you can fuel your body more effectively to get the most from modern life.