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From Change Catalyst to Being with Change

Change Ahead Road Sign 900x598I’ve been called a ‘Change Catalyst’ throughout my career, embracing change at a high level in my professional world. As an entrepreneur, change and growth were something I wanted in order to develop my business. However, I noted the interesting observation that I did not have the same desire in my personal life! For example; I have always thought that I want to be a woman that grows old gracefully. In reality, I was fighting the aging process more than I care to admit. I pushed, I forced, I made myself physically do what my body no longer wanted to (or could) do. I wanted to continue to eat like I was in my twenties and thirties and I certainly didn’t want to wear old ladies’ clothes! Nope! I was NOT going to accept the changes my body was going through!!!

After a while, I started getting curious about what it would be like to work with my body instead of against it. What would it be like to become aware of what my body is telling me, to acknowledge how able-bodied I am, to fully accept where I am in the moment with my fitness, health and energy?

As I have gone through this process I have discovered the freeing power of grace. Grace, for me, means accepting and being with whatever shows up. No resistance, no fear, no forcing — just being. So now I keep the picture in my mind of maturing gracefully, accepting and ‘being with’ the joys of aging. What can be joyful about that? Well, for one: I get to keep buying new clothes!

I see change as the energy that we all live with. It is the River we swim in: We can choose to swim upstream and fight against the current the entire way, we can swim quickly downstream with the current and miss all of the obstacles, we can dive underneath and try to hold onto the bottom so as not to move, or we can float on our backs, taking everything in, moving with the current and allowing change to be just what it is.

Change itself is not something you can opt out of. It is not a person or phone call you can ignore. And, no matter what you think, it is not the enemy. In fact, change is our greatest ally. Change brings about freshness in us. It moves us into the healthy tension of excitement and fear at the same time. Change is the reason that humans have survived for millions of years on this planet. What is it, then, that keeps us opposed to change?

Beside the fear of the unknown, there is the comfort of what is. Or, to be more precise, the illusion of comfort. We confuse the illusion of comfort with our human innate need for homeostasis and stability. Even our bodies crave equilibrium, as demonstrated in a balance point for body temperature (98.6 degrees). We work towards balance every day of our lives; hence the popularity of such topics as work/life balance, setting priorities, time management, change management and the list goes on.

The question really is, “how can we maintain stability while everything around us (and sometimes in us) is changing?” This is not a scientific article in the sense that I am giving you research statistics to answer this technical question. This excerpt is on shared experience. My experience has been one of discovery. When I realize what is really important to me in the midst of my resistance, that ‘core value’ becomes my stabilizer. One of my core values is health/wellness. When I was resisting where my body is at 58, I was working against this core value. In other words, the pushing and forcing were causing me more illness and injury than honoring my value of health/wellness. This is why I reconsidered my perspective. Four steps that helped:

  1. Awareness: become aware of what changes you are going through or what changes are happening in your environment.
  2. Acknowledge: Acknowledge the change to yourself and to others.
  3. Accept: Let go of the struggle, be with the change, knowing you have survived many many change experiences.
  4. Allow: Allow the change to happen. Step out of the illusion of comfort. Embrace the healthy tension of excitement and fear.

I would love to hear of your change experiences and how you have worked through them. Please comment below.