Managing Unexpected Changes

Managing Unexpected Changes

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Life consists of continual change. Sometimes life is relatively easy and like a river on its journey, it ebbs and flows naturally, twisting and turning, navigating its way with a gentle rhythm. The river may at times become blocked with debris; however, the river adjusts and continues to flow; always moving forward, establishing new temporary or permanent pathways and reaching its destination. We are like the river, navigating our path in life, making adjustments as necessary, keeping up the pace and the rhythm and flow, always moving forward, mindful of what is obstructing our path and reaching our destination.
Sometimes life’s changes present unexpected difficulties and we feel out of our depth; blindsided, confused, bewildered and fighting to save ourselves, our sanity and our situation. It is like we are in the eye of the storm, aware that we are being battered and bruised, shaken and broken; frantically trying to hold on with every ounce of strength we have within. It is in
the aftermath we are left to pick up the pieces of our shattered selves, slowly coming to terms with the fact that our hopes, dreams, desires and life goals have collided with the reality of our situation. We need to either continue down the same path, hoping for success, or learn how to manage unexpected, unwanted change.
Change is unavoidable and a very real aspect of everyday life. In nature we see the changing of the seasons, the tide, sunrise and the sunset and the unpredictable and extreme elements of our weather. Animals adjust to change, needing to find new places to find food, adjust their habits to cater to the environment and changing weather conditions; mindful and responsive to danger. When we are born we are completely dependent on our mother for everything. Over time we grow; we learn, we change; we move through our milestones from infancy to adulthood, mastering competencies along the way and by the time we reach adulthood we are somewhat prepared for life and yet somehow not prepared at all.
Our core beliefs and values are formed from influences of our family of origin and as we approach adulthood we exhibit a host of personal qualities, integrity, goals, hopes, dreams, plans and expectations. We are brought up to believe that living life in a certain manner will produce happy, positive outcomes and we use this as our inner compass to guide us towards our goals and the challenges of life. We believe that hard work, sacrifice, integrity, decency, determination and goal setting will be rewarded by positive outcomes and then we surround these beliefs with attachment of emotions. We imagine how we will feel when we achieve our goals and our mind positively responds to these images. We expect that life will support us and deliver rewarding results.
Sometimes, life has other plans and we learn the difficult lesson that no matter how hard we try; no matter how much we invest of ourselves emotionally, behaviourally, mentally, spiritually our desired outcome will not come to fruition. It is human nature to hold on tight to what we want or need;
to dig our heels in and to explore every avenue that may deliver us what we truly desire; however, when life is closing these doors and putting continual road blocks in our path we face the full reality of our situation and the enormous pain and heartache of loss.
It is a necessary step to feel and express the pain; to feel the heartache and regret; to mourn the loss and move through the emotions. We must give ourselves time to process and adjust to the change; to move through the disbelief and the hurt; to expand our thinking based on the evidence of our situation, looking at the bigger picture with great clarity and opening up to new pathways for solution, based on the reality of “what is”. It is only after we have moved through these necessary stages that we reach full awareness and acceptance. After this process we can redirect our energies and establish a new direction with greater understanding of ourselves, others and life. It takes great courage to let go of a dream and create and embrace a new one. “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”. Socrates said.
Imagine you are a tree standing in the forest. Your trunk is deeply rooted in the soil below, safe and strong. Nature supports you and your roots stretch out deep into the earth below and your roots grounded in the earth hold your values, beliefs and integrity. Your leaves stretch up to the expansive sky and bend and sway with the forces of nature and the conditions of life. Just like the tree, you can be true to your values and beliefs, deeply rooted in your integrity, yet bend and sway to the changes of life. In doing so, you discover a more adaptable way to weather the storms and to bask in the sunshine. You discover how to live in harmony with the laws of nature, congruent to your values and adaptable to life.

Kathy Brennan
Counsellor, Supervisor,
Child Educator,
Mothercraft Nurse

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