How many transitions are you in the midst of right now? More often than not, when we're experiencing change in one area of our lives, there's a pretty good chance that things are shifting and moving in other places as well. Not Murphy's Law, but probably a first cousin. Even if you're keeping your head above water, I'll bet that there are all kinds of hidden gremlins (unmet needs, unresolved feelings, incomplete conversations) swimming around in the murky waters around you, waiting to grab hold when you least expect it. That's the nature of change.
And if you're a woman living in the 21st century, you're probably feeling pretty overworked and under-nourished to begin with. When the prospect of change looms with a mounting demand on your time and energy, it can simply put you over the edge.
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So here's a radical notion: maybe change isn't all that bad. Maybe it can be a vital, sometimes even pleasurable, transformative process. I know, experts say we resist it. Most of us are intimidated by it. Some of us claim we thrive on it, but we're probably lying. Who really likes change? The truth is, when you let go of what no longer fits, the result is very often a change for the better. Maybe it can actually be a life affirming, spiritually directed experience that enlivens us and ultimately brings us more joy and satisfaction. What a concept!
Cycles of Change – the 3 "R's"
I think one of the first steps in taming the stress of CHANGE is to simply understand it better. In my book, Circle of One: The Art of Becoming a SELF-Centered Woman, I propose that change can be considered as a particularly fluid, though very predictable, three-step process; the process is fluid because the stages tend to interact, overlap, and repeat. It begins, ironically, with an ending, or "release". We must take time to reflect on what we're leaving behind, whether it's a relationship (as with a divorce), a way of life (becoming a new mother), or a special place (when we sell a beloved home). Both happy and challenging changes can trigger the transition cycle and it's important to acknowledge them all.
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The next stage is a reassessment period, or "retreat". This is when the inner work is done, when what is to come can begin to reveal itself. With the loss of a loved one, it is when our deep grieving takes place. In ancient cultures, the value of this period was understood and the elders of the community prescribed rites of passage in the form of vision quests or solitary refuge. For women today, it can simply be a time of stillness, allowing our "wise self" to do its work in formulating what’s next.
Which brings us to the final stage -- the new beginning, or "rebirth". As we emerge from our retreat time, a number of things can happen. We might be paralyzed by fear … what if I'm not ready? What if this direction or person or job isn't the right one? Or maybe we're feeling overwhelmed at the possibilities available to us. Either way, things are moving again, and even if we veer off the path, it's all part of the discovery process.