Who would’ve thought that one single word could be a never-ending source of debates and arguments? Before I answer that question, you should know that I’m talking about “change.” Now, back to the question.
Change happens every day; it’s an unstable atom, an independent variable; we just don’t (always) see it coming, which is why we fear it. Writing from experience, I always believed that I happily welcomed change and that I faced zero challenges. Unfortunately, looking back at my actions, thoughts, and patterns, that was not always true (yes, I am openly admitting that). While in some cases I did willingly -and happily- get on the change train, there were times when change was unexpected and unwanted from my side. I met it with resistance, anger, and frustration, which left me feeling hopeless, defeated and drained. The good news is, once I realized that I wasn’t as open to change as I would have liked to be I started actually working on it. The more I tried, the more I developed; the more I saw it, the more I loved it. Don’t get me wrong, I am not in any way saying that it’s an easy road to follow. Yes, you will make mistakes (lots of them), you will relapse; you will cry yourself to sleep because you’re human and because even though you want to change, it really is easier said than done.
While being stuck in shock, denial, and anger allow me to elaborate using one specific example; one that I found particularly challenging because it shook me to the core. You should know that I’ve always been labeled “emotional,” “ artistic,” and “empathetic,” three words I clung to desperately be cause I falsely believed that add ing seemingly opposing traits into the personality mix would negatively affect my identity. Simply put, I was terrified.
Then, one day, someone very dear to me (who used to praise me on my top three traits) bluntly told me to “grow thicker skin.” I froze. Then the questions started, and self-doubt arose: what did he mean? Was he criticizing me? Was he trying to control me? As an Aquarius female, I loathe the idea of being controlled. Was he trying to break me? Why was he doing this to me?
From that point on I went through the typical change cycle (while being stuck in shock, denial and anger); I felt offended, hurt and helpless -to say the least- until, one morning as I was doodling on a new wall, it hit me: growing thicker skin did not mean that I would lose myself, nor did it mean that there was something wrong with me or that I had to give up my empathetic and emotional nature. What it did mean was that I needed to learn to let go of trivial issues that I could not control, while focusing on what truly matters. That’s when I decided that, yes, I will make this happen for me because I was officially done with feeling disappointed and angry. Since I couldn’t change the situation(s) I changed my perspective, and slowly but surely, watched my shimmery, glorious thick skin develop.
To wrap it up here is how I managed to mindfully embrace and thrive on change (surprisingly): Change is scary, and that’s ok. We fear the unknown. So the key is to find out as much as you can, ob serve your surroundings and dive deep within yourself.
Behaviour is complex
Think long and hard before judg ing others or yourself negatively. Be empathetic.
Break it down
In other words, baby steps.
Focus on what matters
and keep your priorities clear.
Acknowledge your fear
Understand it so that you can move past it.
Make sure you keep your ego in check
Learn to analyze the reason be hind your resistance.
Do not let negative thoughts take over.
Review your thinking
Words are incredibly powerful. Repeating positive affirmations.
Expect and accept relapses.
Adapting to change takes time
cut yourself some slack.
Contemplate, but not for too long
During this stage, we come up with never-ending pros and cons -which is good- but some of us get stuck there and never move past it. Notice when, and why you become stagnant. Then come up with a plan to breakthrough.
Find a healthy outlet
For me, it was always art; find a healthy way to “let it all out.”