When change lands in your lap unexpectedly, after the initial shock of emotion, there’s often a crazy urge to get life back to normal as quickly as possible – whatever normal looks like! Maybe it’s establishing a routine, maybe it’s getting your brain to function with some ounce of energy, maybe it’s touching base with the important people in your life and ensuring your relationship is still intact.
A couple of years ago a job contract I thought was ongoing for some time came abruptly to a halt. All of a sudden I went from months (years?) of employment to a couple of weeks. The change in circumstances was a complete shock to the system, and there were a few tears as I processed the news I’d just been given. Then I pushed the tears aside and tried to gain some mental clarity so I focus on fixing the issue. I had to find a job. Knowing I was employed and had ongoing financial support was my ‘getting back to normal’, and that was my priority.
Lurking underneath though there were still emotions lurking, fumbling about, being processed. I didn’t want to look at them just though, but I knew I had to at some point.
Sudden change (of the ‘negative’ variety) can be a lot like grief – there’s a change in your relationship with your life as you know it. You may be in denial or angry about it. You might be angry at particular people, or angry with yourself. You may start bargaining with yourself, with others (real or imagined), or with the universe – that if this situation could just go back to being the way it was you would look after yourself so much better in future (or whatever your bargaining chip is). Maybe your mood slumps to depression as you feel so down on yourself, your current situation, and your feeling of lost power to do anything about your life.
All these feelings are completely normal – and it’s okay to feel them as you process what’s happened and readjust to the way your life looks. The important thing is to allow yourself to feel them so you can let them go. Blocked feelings just hang about waiting for a chance to surface. The sooner you work them through the better. That said, you can’t simply force feelings out like squeezing a pimple. They need to surface of their own accord like a buried splinter working its way to your outer layer of skin.
It may help to talk to a friend about what’s going on for you, or speak with a complete stranger like a counsellor or someone on one of those free support lines. Journaling can also help because it gets the emotions out into words, on paper – and it’s private, just for your eyes. Working the emotions through can also help to work out what ‘normal’ is meant to be for you right now. Change often happens for a reason, it’s just hard to see it in the moment. When you go inside and work through the emotions, it filters through to your perception of the world around you and your focus can become so much clearer.
In my example above, this is exactly what happened. Yes, I needed a new job – but what? I trawled the online job websites to no avail. So, in the meantime I worked through my emotions and what I loved about my current job so much, and why I was so upset about the contract ending…what was that really about for me? By understanding those things about myself, I found it easier to let that job go and be open to finding a new job that was even better suited to my skills and interests.
What emotions from a sudden life change are still hanging around inside you? How would it help to process these? How could your life be different if you gave yourself the space to sift through these emotions?
Here’s to being brave and tackling what’s on the inside!
Have a great week,
Life experience has taught me a lot about change - its messiness and my desire to circumnavigate it in a more efficient way. In this blog I share my experience so you too can survive change with a smile on your face!