They say “change is good” and, for the most part, I agree. After all, without a healthy dose of change life would be boring and spiritless. But what happens when the force of change doesn’t knock on the door but, instead, knocks down your whole house?
When unexpected, negative change strikes out of nowhere, panic sets in and we react reflexively. We want to want to find the solution, fix the problem and get things back to normal as quickly as possible. The problem with this approach is that “normal” no longer exists. When you find yourself in a new environment, whether by choice or force, the emotional ground you’re standing on has changed as much as the surroundings. Resistance is futile, but reckless reactions and blind trail-blazing can cause even more damage.
At times of unexpected change, what’s most important is to gain understanding, and that requires bringing yourself into emotional balance when you’ve fallen out of it. To do this, you have to take your time – to assess, to mourn, to be conscious and to reflect. I dread this process; it’s uncomfortable, confusing and downright painful. You’ll be preoccupied. You might be fearful or angry. You won’t act like yourself for a while and people will be all too happy to point this out to you. The process of trying to ground yourself amidst the chaos makes you feel very much as though you’re trying to lasso a tornado, and it takes a while to realize that the idea isn’t to lasso it – it’s to find the epicenter and pull things out of it one piece at a time. You’ll want to avoid the process altogether, but if you avoid understanding your new reality how will you ever hope to navigate through it?
When negative change threatens our sense of security, it brings unwelcome emotions, pain, and anxiety. Change often robs us of the life we dreamed of and the person we were meant to be. In the end, though, I cling to the hope that the very angst of change may become the catalyst for moving on, and the pain and reflection an incentive to grow. After all, “action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change – this is the rhythm of living… Out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.” -Bruce Barton.